The Bristol and Bath Railway Path is a 13 mile cycling route linking the cities of Bristol and Bath. The path is popular with residents and visitors alike, and is as much a home to local wildlife as it is an important commuting route.

We asked local sustainable transport charity Sustrans to give us a better understanding of how this local landmark came to exist.

Bristol and Bath Railway Path 1979

The Bristol and Bath Railway Path in 1979. Source: John Grimshaw, Sustrans

The Bristol and Bath Railway path was launched by Cyclebag in 1978, with a plan for a traffic-free route along the River Avon towpath as far as Hanham, then joining the derelict railway at Bitton. 

Works commenced in June 1979, with over 300 volunteers putting in about 800 days of labour to complete the first 8kms of the route. The path was opened by the end of that year and was an immediate success. At the time this was the only cycling provision in the whole area – there was not a single metre of cycle lane or path anywhere else in the county.

Following more volunteer-led construction and negotiations with local residents, other sections were gradually added, and the whole path was finally opened on 6 August 1985, exactly 150 years after the opening of the original railway line, and 6 years on from the start of the cycle route development at Saltford.

Bristol and Bath Railway Path opening

The opening of the Bristol and Bath Railway Path in 1985. Source: Sustrans

In the years since the first section of the path opened it has grown in popularity. Over the last few years numbers have doubled on some of the busier sections and it is estimated there are 3 million journeys on the path every year.

Popular attractions along the route include:

Bristol and Bath Railway Path today

The Bristol and Bath Railway Path today. Source: South Gloucestershire Council

The path runs through several districts in East Bristol which are worth a visit if you want to break up a long cycle ride. Read our local guides to Easton, Fishponds and Keynsham to see what there is to do in each of these neighbourhoods dotted along the route.

We've also got plenty more suggestions for things to do in East Bristol, South Gloucestershire and Bath, depending on how far you think you can cycle!

Bristol and Bath Railway Path

Sustrans is working on the One Path: BS5 project throughout 2021, which will improve a 1.7mile stretch between Clay Bottom and Trinity Street. The aim is to make the path a safer, more inclusive space – we're looking forward to seeing the results. 

Read more

Bristol and Bath Railway Path route

The present day Bristol and Bath Railway Path route. Source: Bristol & Bath Railway Path

Related

Bristol to Bath Cycle Path
Cycle Route
Bristol to Bath Cycle Path

A lovely, flat 13 mile off-road route between the cities of Bristol and Bath perfect for walkers and cyclists.