Cycling Shakespeare's England Just as England gets ready to celebrate the 450th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare, we take a cycling tour of the Bard’s stomping grounds from Stratford-upon-Avon to London, with stops along the way. By Doug O'Neill Cycling Shakespeare's England Slideshow View Slideshow Cycling Shakespeare's England Replay This Slideshow Next Slideshow Previous Next By: Photo: © Copyright View more galleries Bath, England: 14 reasons 6 grand Budapest hotels Easter and Passover in Je The Birthplace of William Shakespeare: Stratford-upon-Avon You simply must start or end your Shakespeare’s Way cycling tour in Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare, nestled on the banks of the river Avon in rural Warwickshire. Visit Shakespeare’s birthplace on Henley Street, the childhood home of his wife, Anne Hathaway, and other sites connected to the life and works of the great Bard. Beautiful English Villages: Chipping Camden Touring the English countryside by bike means you’ll stop (and perhaps have a pint) in cute and friendly villages, such as Chipping Camden. The Carter Company, who are leaders in cycling holidays in this part of England, start some of their tours in Chipping Camden, which has been described as “the jewel of the Cotswolds.” I highly recommend The Kings Arms for a break and a bevvy. Bike-friendly routes Cycling routes throughout much of England are getting better and better. Cyclists following the route along Shakespeare’s Way can easily connect to other cycling paths. Thumbs-up to our British friends for well-marked bike and hiking trails throughout the country. Shakespeare in the Streets Cycling through Stratford-upon-Avon is an easy way to take in many of the sites connected to William Shakespeare, such as The Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre, The Swan Theatre, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage, plus the house where Shakespeare was born. Anne Hathaway’s Cottage Cycle about a kilometer from the centre of Stratford-upon-Avon and you’ll find yourself in Shottery, location of the carefully preserved thatched farmhouse where Anne Hathaway lived before her marriage to William Shakespeare. The gardens are beautiful. All the World’s a Stage Characters, in costume or not, mugging it up for the camera are common sites throughout the theatre haven of Stratford-upon-Avon. Costumed docents and performers capture just not the heart of Shakespeare’s artistry, but what it was like to live during Elizabethan times. Holy Trinity Church William Shakespeare was baptized and buried at Holy Trinity Church, on the banks of the river Avon, just a short walk from the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre. The construction of the present-day limestone edifice was started in 1210. Holy Trinity Church is by no means a museum, however, but a thriving, active parish church. Visitors are invited to attend regular church services. Shakespeare’s Birthplace Tour If you need to hop off your bike and stretch your legs for a bit, consider the No Holds Bard Walking Tour, which will take you by William Shakespeare’s birthplace at Halls Croft, a visit to Nash's House (a preserved Tudor building), the Grammar School, the theatre, and even his final resting place. The Long Walk, Windsor Castle Cyclists along Shakespeare’s Way will pass through the Great Park at Windsor Castle, which has more than 4,800 acres of grassland and forest. Bikes aren’t allowed on the nearly five-kilometre Long Walk but there are plenty of cycling paths throughout the park which provide incredible views of this amazing property. Note: mind the deer. Wildlife is abundant in Windsor Park, which happens to be the Queen’s favourite weekend retreat. Beautiful English Gardens The growing season in England is, of course, much longer than in Canada, so you’re apt to enjoy fine gardens and flowers throughout much of the year. Flowers are constantly referenced throughout the works of William Shakespeare. Remember the passage by Ophelia: “There's fennel for you, and columbines. There's rue for you, and here's some for me. We may call it herb of grace o' Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference! There's a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither'd all when my father died. They say he made a good end. In Will Shakespeare’s Footsteps Shakespeare often travelled between the Globe Theatre in London to his home in Stratford-upon-Avon. The Carter Company’s Shakespeare’s Way – 7 nights cycling tour follows alongside the River Thames in London, and heads on through the picturesque countryside of the Chilterns and the Cotswolds and, of course, Stratford-upon-Avon. You'll want to take a breather for photo ops at Hampton Court, Windsor Castle, Oxford and Blenheim Palace (birthplace of Winston Churchill). Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill I felt a little underdressed as I pulled up to the grand entrance of Blenheim Palace in my wind-breaker and cycling shorts. Standing before me was one of the most beautiful, and biggest, Baroque palaces I’ve seen in all of England. This is the home of the Dukes of Marlborough, the family of the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The art collection is staggering. Since you’ll burn calories cycling all day, treat yourself to tea in the Indian Room at Blenheim Palace. Biking the streets of Oxford, England You’ll fit right in as you cycle in and around Oxford University, the oldest university in the English-speaking world – as it’s one of the most bike-friendly campuses in the world. Everyone rides a bike. Navigating the back lanes and alley ways on a bike is a pleasant way to enjoy the history of Oxford, which was in fact a town until the creation of the See of Oxford in 1542. Remnants of the old walls are still visible. Tudor Highlights Tudor architecture, with the signature black-and-white design, is common throughout Stratford-upon-Avon and surrounding towns. Streets are lined with timber-framed Tudor houses, many of which are shops and cafes and pubs.