Family cargo bike adventure from Bath to Chepstow

When most lockdown restrictions were lifted in July 2020, we were keen to visit places beyond those on our doorstep but didn’t fancy going on a bus or train yet. As a family without a car, we found ourselves looking at our cargo bike and thinking 'hey, there's an idea'!

We were in a 'bubble' with a family who also own a cargo bike, so a plan for a multi-day cargo bike holiday was soon hatched.

We decided against camping to make the trip easier for everyone involved. Carrying four kids on two cargo bikes seemed plenty adventuorus for us!

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Family: 4 adults and 4 children aged between 3 and 6 years old

Method of transport: 1 hybrid bike, 1 road bike, 1 electric longtail bike, 1 electric box bike

Bikes: Tern GSD longtail (with two Yepp Maxi seats), Urban Arrow box bike (with two benches)

Time of year: Summer holidays

Start point: Bath

Destination: Chepstow and Tintern

Route: see the route on Komoot

Two families on four bikes, including 1 longtail bike, 1 box bike.

Planning the route from Bath to Wales

As the person in charge of planning the trip, I used Cycle.Travel's excellent route planning website to plan a 4-day cycling trip from Bath to Wales. I was inspired with my planning at the prospect of crossing a border, and what better way than via a bridge, so this was my starting point for my route planning.

My partner and I had done a couple of cycling holidays before we had children, including on the Isle of Arran in Scotland and the Dartmoor Way in the South West.

We did these trips on our old-school hybrid bikes and maxed out on 35 miles a day, so this gave us a very rough idea of how much would be possible with kids added to the mix.

Screenshot of route from Chipping Sodbury to Chepstow

I plotted this cargo bike trip by looking for a combination of ideal trip length for the day (20 to 35 miles) and family-friendly accommodation.

I also made sure to mark good places to stop for breaks, including playgrounds and cafes for lunch, with some outdoor space so the kids could run around.

Since this was our first cycling trip with kids, it was reassuring to know that we were with four adults and never more than 35 miles from home. We didn’t have a formal contingency plan, but if needed, we were always close to public transport to return home in case of an emergency.

(Cargo) bike set up for our family adventure

Cargo bikes cross the railway near Bitton on the way from Bath to Bristol

We had one box bike and one longtail bike to our disposal, so our children ranging between 3 and 6 years old could pick and choose where to sit and who to sit with. The little ones usually opted for the box bike while the bigger ones sat on the rear of the longtail, singing songs and making jokes (so much giggling!).

We packed the rain canopy for our box bike, just in case the kids wanted to be sheltered from rain or wind - the box bike could technically seat all four children, but it would have been a bit of a squeeze.

The canopy can be folded, although not very neatly, but we had space in the box bike to carry it with us and we were glad we did.

It was a bit damp on the day we set off, but the weather forecast looked ok for the rest of the trip. We brought waterproofs for everyone, just in case.

The dads cycled on the electric cargo bikes, while the mums used their own superpowers to pedal up the hills. I have to admit, I was often the last one to arrive at the top of a hill with my upright Dutch hybrid bike and two fully-packed panniers.

Our friend had a phone holder on their longtail bike, so they were in charge of directions, using the gpx files I downloaded from Cycle.Travel.

We brought one charger with us to charge the batteries of our Bosch e-bike batteries in the evenings.

Bath to Chepstow, Wales

On day 1, we cycled 24 miles from Bath to Chipping Sodbury, where we stayed in a lovely B&B and took over the entire place by booking all four rooms.

The cycle on the first day was very easy and mostly flat, with the first part on a familiar railway path between Bath and Bristol. On arrival, we had a nice meal in the garden of the pub - adults rested up and kids ran around so everyone was happy!

On day 2, we ventured to Wales, taking in bits of the National Cycle Network route 4. This section included a bit more riding on main roads than expected, especially close to the bridge over the Severn.

We were very happy that our 6 and 7 year olds weren't on their own bikes for this bit.

Chepstow Castle in Wales
Crossing the Severn Bridge by cargo bike

One of the highlights of the trip was cycling over the Severn Bridge. There's something magical about crossing a massive bridge on a modest (cargo) bike.

The kids loved seeing the estuary from high up on the bridge and were very keen to cross the border. Having children of reading age and seeing road signs with two languages added to the excitement of course.

We covered about 26 miles from Chipping Sodbury to Chepstow, giving us some time in the afternoon to visit Chepstow Castle. Another highlight!

We stayed the night in Chepstow, which is a small, touristy town and we stayed in a cheap and cheerful hotel with large family rooms.

Day trip to Tintern Abbey by cargo bike

On day 3, we left our luggage in the hotel and cycled from Chepstow to Tintern for the day, which was only 7 miles. The short journey included a climb over a fairly big hill.

Not a mean feat, but once we were up the hill, we cycled down a lovely winding road through the forest, to arrive at the magical Tintern Abbey.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring Tintern and the banks of the River Wye and then cycled back (over that hill again!) to our hotel in Chepstow.

In 2021, a 5-mile greenway running along the former Wye Valley Railway was opened offering a shorter, flatter and traffic-free route from Chepstow and Tintern, via a railway tunnel.

Tintern Abbey in the Wye Valley in Wales

Returning home

On the last day, we cycled all the way back to Bath. It was the furthest we’d ever ridden with the kids - 30 miles, but very doable because we knew we'd be home and back in our own beds by the end of the day.

We made sure to get the miles in earlier in the day and then visit a couple of playgrounds once we were very close to home to keep everyone's morale high despite the adult's tired legs!

My top tips for (cargo) bike holidays:

  • be prepared to stop at (nearly) every playground, and be prepared for this to take up a fair amount of time
  • try to get your miles in when your kids are happy on the bike, this might be in the morning before they get bored, or over nap times
  • bring snacks, lots of them, but also remember that you can buy snacks in most places
  • if you’re cycling through a rural, make sure you bring food and water with you, or plan a detour to a pub or cafe (check opening hours!)
  • pack everything in waterproof bags, or cover with bin bags, in case of rain
  • bring waterproofs for kids or a rain canopy
  • the box bike was much more comfortable for the 3-year olds than the longtail and they sometimes had a nap in there
  • bring paper, pencils and picture books for meals out

Like the sound of our Wales cargo bike holiday?

We have added our route, and favourite places along the way into our Komoot profile.

Komoot is a brilliant platform for discovering, planning and sharing bike rides, and we are building up some exciting collections to inspire your next cycling holiday or day out.


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