Cycle routes

​There are a number of promoted, longer distance cycle routes around Northamptonshire which are fantastic places to take leisure rides, in most cases suitable for the whole family. Many of them also run near to, or through, town centres providing easy links for commuting to work or school.


Norbital (route 539) is an 18 mile (29 km) circular cycle route around Northampton, which connects residential areas with areas of employment and education such as the University of Northampton, Brackmills and Moulton Park.  It is also a great way of exploring parts of the town you may not have visited before.

Norbital Map

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​Ways through Waterside

Ways Through Waterside (route 536) was a National Lottery funded project, developed with the assistance of sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

It runs on 3 miles of purpose-built off-road cycle-way along a picturesque area of the River Nene, joining Beckets Park and the town centre with Upton, and linking to:

  • Nene Valley Retail Park       
  • St James Mill Road
  • Sixfields       
  • Briar Hill      
  • Norbital
  • Northampton Arm Canal Towpaths

See the Norbital Map link above for a map of the Ways Through Waterside.

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​Fineshade Wood

Situated in the very north of the county, a 5 mile circular Forestry Commission cycle trail takes you through beautiful woodland at Fineshade, suitable for the whole family.  With 7 alternative ‘blue graded’ mountain bike taster sections, there is also something for the more adventurous.

Bike hire is available on site from Rutland Cycling’s Fineshade store.

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National cycle network

Two major National Cycle Network routes run through Northamptonshire, both of which can be used to explore parts of the county or can be followed in part as helpful utility routes into towns and surrounding villages.

Route 6 - passes through the centre of Northampton utilising a mixture of on and off-road facilities and linking Milton Keynes to the south of the county with Market Harborough to the north. The main attraction of this route within Northamptonshire is the Brampton Valley Way.

Route 50– runs from Buckingham northwards through the county, linking with route 6 just south of Leicester. Within Northamptonshire the route links together a number of villages in the west of the county, passing through Daventry using part of the old Daventry-Braunston rail-line.

Visit the Sustrans website for full details of these routes and further National Cycle Network information:

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The East Northants Greenway

The East Northants Greenway is a mainly traffic-free walking and cycling route that currently links together Rushden and Higham Ferrers along a former rail line with a further link across the Nene Valley into Irthlingborough through the beautiful Irthlingborough Lakes and Meadows Nature Reserve. 

See the East Northants Cycle Map for Rushden and Higham Ferrers on our cycle maps page for details of the route.

There are plans in the near future to extend the Greenway to link up with Stanwick Lakes just to the east and also west along the Nene Valley to Wellingborough.

The long term vision for the Greenway is to create a high quality walking and cycling route that will link Wellingborough to Peterborough. Further details, including the Greenway Forward Plan and a map showing proposed future phases can be found on the East Northamptonshire Council website.

​The National Byway

The National Byway is a distinct, signed national cycle route 3,300 miles in length running through England, Scotland and Wales.  The route enters Northamptonshire in the north of the county and forms a 29 mile loop near to Oundle.  The loop is sign-posted along its length, providing the ideal route for a self-led road ride through quiet country lanes set in some stunning countryside.

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Stanwick Lakes

​Stanwick Lakes boasts a network of trails and cycle tracks set in the beauty of the Nene Valley. The main spine through the park follows the former Nene Valley rail line for more than 6 miles leading towards Thrapston (a bridleway can then be followed for the last mile into the town). Visit the Nene Valley website for further details of cycling in the area and to download the ‘Boots and Bikes’ map of walking and cycling routes.

Bicycle hire facilities are also available at Stanwick Lakes.

Salcey Forest

Set in lovely South Northants countryside, just to the south of Northampton, this Forestry Commission managed woodland boasts a 5 mile circular cycle trail that is suitable for the whole family. Salcey Forest also lies on the National Cycle network route 6 as it heads toward Milton Keynes, so it can be easily reached by bike from Northampton (there are some busy road sections).

Full details of what Salcey Forest has to offer are available below.