Many people think that the red routes around Milton Keynes are there just to get you from A-B without the need of the car, maybe beat the rush hour traffic or give you a more direct route home – but they are so much more than that, writes Saffron Wilson.
If you are looking for something to do at the weekend to get you out in the fresh air and find the hidden gems of MK, then take a cycle across the leisure routes from Caldecotte Lake to Willen Lake.
Starting off at Caldecotte Lake, you can choose to cycle on one of the surrounding red routes, but the Parks Trust have taken the trail through the middle of the parks so you can enjoy some peace and serenity in the middle of Milton Keynes.
Here, you won’t want to miss Caldecotte’s very own windmill, and nearby, just off the edge of the lake is The Caldecotte Pub and Grill.
The team at City Stay apartments used this route to train for their London to Brighton charity bike ride.
Lauren Phillips, one of the colleagues that undertook the challenge said: “The Caldecotte [pub and grill] draws a real crowd and gets really buzzy. It’s a wonderfully lively place to stop when you’ve been cycling.”
You can follow the leisure trail through MK and which runs right by the River Ouse. This goes up through parks with more places to stop on the way.
Lauren took the leisure route up past the Pub and Grill and up through to Woolstone. She said: “We didn’t have a chance to stop anywhere up here, but we did get stuck in a herd of cows!”
But if you don’t come across a wandering cow, why not take a few minutes to refresh at the Cross Keys pub?
The pub uses fresh local ingredients for its food, and if you don’t fancy anything too heavy on your cycle, there is a wide range of coffees to choose from too.
Willen Lake sits at the top of the circuit. If you decide to cycle right up to Willen Lake, then take some time to visit the Peace Pagoda.
The Pagoda shows the story of Buddha from birth until his death 2,500 years ago, and is a popular place for spiritual events and somewhat of a landmark in Willen Park.
Hannah Bodley, Head of Marketing, Events and Community Engagement at The Parks Trust said: “We are lucky to have such an amazing network of connected leisure and Redway paths in Milton Keynes. The city has been specifically designed to make it easy for people to travel around without using a car which means cycling around can be traffic free and is often through the acres of beautiful parkland Milton Keynes has to offer.
“The Parks Trust is an independent, self-financing charity in Milton Keynes, and we love caring for the parkland and seeing people out enjoying their parks.
“This is a particularly lovely cycle route as it offers the opportunity to take in Willen Lake with its activities ranging from watersports to Treetop Extreme high ropes course as well as iconic landmarks such as the Peace Pagoda through to Caldecotte Lake with its peaceful haven for wildlife and stunning views.
“There are also lots of hidden gems to discover along the way such as the medieval village earthworks at Woughton and the Orchard, the viewpoint by Oakgrove, the Poplar Plantation and beautiful Tree Cathedral. You will even find yourself passing our brand new 111 berth marina in the heart of Milton Keynes and in parts you will be cycling alongside the Grand Union Canal.
“There are lots of opportunities to refuel along the way with both The Barge and The Cross Keys pubs at Woolstone and The Caldecotte Arms at Caldecotte Lake. There are also facilities and a pub and café at Willen Lake. We hope this will inspire people to get out on their bikes and explore the redways and leisure routes – cycling is a really enjoyable way to discover all that Milton Keynes has to offer.
“You can find out more about leisure activities and parks in Milton Keynes at http://www.theparkstrust.com.”