Bernwood Jubilee Way trail

Bernwood Forest by bike

Six routes - 135 miles of cycling.

The six routes

The Bernwood area has a network of cycling routes with part of the Buckinghamshire section of The National Byway. The 6 routes provide cycling outings in the Bernwood Forest area, and help raise awareness and develop enjoyment of the forest.

They guide you to some of the most interesting aspects within and around the former forest’s ancient boundary. The route starts at west of Woburn and finishes at west of Boarstall. It covers sections of Route 51 of the National Cycle Network between Bicester and Milton Keynes.

The routes range from 12 to 34 miles in length and are sign-posted.

A county of contrasts

Buckinghamshire is a county of contrasts. Its southern boundary on the banks of the River Thames is a world away from the wooded Chiltern hills, and the limestone towns and villages to the north.

Bernwood Forest, once situated in the rural Vale of Aylesbury, was named and used for hunting by the Anglo-Saxon kings.

The forest entered written history in the early 11th century when King Edward the Confessor established a royal palace within its boundaries at Brill. At its peak during the reign of Henry II, the forest covered an area of about 50 parishes in modern day Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

It fell within the boundaries of:

  • the River Great Ouse
  • Padbury Brook
  • Claydon Brook
  • River Thame

The forest reached as far north as Buckingham, west towards Oxford and south to Aylesbury.

Bernwood history

Bernwood was not only a place of trees, it was a rich mosaic of pastures, arable fields, meadows, heathland, busy settlements and woodland.

Harsh forest laws protected the land for the sole purpose of the King’s hunt.

In the early 17th century, disafforestation (abolishment of the legal status of the Forest) took place and Bernwood as a legal entity was no more. Yet it had played a critical part in the shaping of the landscape as it is today.

Six of the best-preserved open field systems in Middle England still exist, as well as the earthworks of abandoned medieval villages.

Floodplain meadows and ancient semi-natural woodlands can still be seen. A rich network of hedgerows and historic parklands also survive. Many historic villages remain, with listed buildings and rural way of life.

To guide you along your way, we have designed a series of circular loop routes of various distances.

Printed maps of these routes are included in the Bernwood Jubilee Way guidebook. Details on how to request a copy can be found on the introduction page.

Safety first

Before you set off on any journey remember:

  • check your bicycle regularly including tyre pressures, or have it done by a reputable cycle dealer
  • be visible to other road users: bright-coloured or reflective clothing should be worn
  • always wear a cycle helmet
  • follow the Highway Code
  • be courteous to other road users as you expect them to be to you
  • ride positively and decisively
  • ride in single file when the road is narrow
  • keep ears as well as eyes alert