Henley-on-Thames is a wonderful place to start and finish a bike ride. Not only is it a beautiful place to walk along the river or cycle around the black and white buildings, but it is full to the brim with restaurants and cafes to feed you up for a bike ride. It is also has a train station in the very heart of it.
Once you’ve cycled out from Henley-on-Thames, it doesn’t take long before you’re out of traffic and surrounded by countryside. The roads are reasonably quiet and tend to meander around cottages and farmland.
The route can run in either direction, however I suggest trying anti-clockwise first, as this allows you to follow the Chilterns Cycleway signs all the way from the centre of Henley to the quaint village of Frieth and it is blessed with many pubs along the way if you need a rest.
The route is rather hilly and may not be the best for novice riders, however, electric bicycles are now available to hire from Henley Cycles and Swiss Farm Touring and Camp site, both of which are en-route. These bikes will make light work of hills and will allow even the most laid back riders the opportunity to fly around the loop.
The scenery here is stunning, and Turville was actually host to the popular TV show, 'The Vicar of Dibley'
Once you’ve passed through Frieth, you leave the Chilterns Cycleway signs and follow the roads to Fingest and Turville Heath. The scenery here is stunning, and Turville was actually host to the popular TV show, 'The Vicar of Dibley'. Villages slowly become replaced with woodland and views over the valley.
Turville Heath offers two options to get back to Henley; the route on the map takes you near to Gussetts Woods and rolling back down the climbs you started your ride on. The Alternative Route (marked on the map) takes you through the valley with more tourist attractions to visit. This route is more level and has wider roads than the Main Route, but it can be a tad busier in rush hour.
Lower Assendon marks the final stretch home, which can be achieved on a shared usage cycle path alongside the main road. This will lead you straight back to the town centre, right outside Henley Cycles.
Fit and fast riders should be able to tackle the hills in a couple of hours, with plenty of time to soak up some sunshine by the river or warm up with a coffee in a shop back in Henley.
At 18 miles, this will take the average person half a day to complete with a good lunch stop. Fit and fast riders should be able to tackle the hills in a couple of hours, with plenty of time to soak up some sunshine by the river or warm up with a coffee in a shop back in Henley. Either way, both options are pleasant and peaceful riding experiences.
A map of the route plus further information about attractions and places to stop for food along the way can be found on the Chilterns AONB website.  I strongly recommend The Chocolate Theatre Café in Henley-on-Thames for either a pre-ride sugar rush or a post-ride recovery hot chocolate and cake!