Today was one of those incredible days when you’re just engulfed by this feelgood wave of joy and contentment. We took advantage of the beautiful weather to head out on our first proper family bike ride. Ez’s confidence on her bike has rocketed in the last month and so we felt we could tackle a longer outing. I checked out the National Cycle Network, and discovered that there’s a highly-rated family-friendly route that follows the Kennet and Avon canal, less than 30 minutes drive from our house.
We parked at a picnic site next to the canal in Theale and cycled the 7.8km to Froudes Bridge, just past Aldermaston Wharf. To say the route is stunning really doesn’t do it justice. We rode along the tow path next to the gorgeous canal (spotting swans and ducks along the way), through open fields and past woodland. We had the path largely to ourselves – I couldn’t believe how peaceful it was in the middle of the school holidays. We stopped to watch the canal boats go through the locks and one boating couple even encouraged the twins to help push open the sluice gates, which they loved.
The beauty of cycling along a canal is that the route is flat (which was a total joy). The paths were all more than wide enough, and although we had to cross a few (extremely quiet) roads, we didn’t have to ride along the road at any point.
We stopped for a picnic by the water just before Aldermaston Wharf and then continued on a little bit further, before turning round and heading back to the Wharf to treat ourselves to ice-creams at the Aldermaston tea room (it also doubles as an information centre for the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust, plus it offers a great loo stop). Next time I fancy stopping there for lunch because the sandwiches looked blooming awesome.
We rode back the way we came, and even though you’re riding along the same path, going the opposite direction means you notice new things and it still feels interesting. The kids were (quite rightly), super-proud of themselves for riding such a distance, and we headed home feeling tired and happy. I have a feeling we’ll get to know this stretch of canal pretty well over the next few years and I’m really excited to see how it changes throughout the seasons.