Somerset Family Adventures

Posts

Cycling the Strawberry line with kids

A Guide to Cycling the Strawberry Line with Kids

If you’re looking for a great route for a family bike ride in Somerset, The Strawberry Line is perfect for a family day out.

The Strawberry Line is one of the best Somerset cycle routes for families as it’s mainly traffic-free, with no steep gradients for the most part (the exception is at Axbridge), and is ideal for all ages.

The route takes you through the stunning Somerset countryside and is the perfect way to see Somerset by bike.

What is The Strawberry Line

The Strawberry Line is the former Cheddar Valley Great Western Railway branch line, that has been transformed into a walking and cycling route by volunteers. The line was well used for nearly a century until its closure in 1965 and since then a wealth of wildlife habitats have been allowed to flourish. The route is on the National Cycle Network, No. 26 and is popular with walkers, cyclists (and horse riders on certain sections).

Known as ‘a traffic-free route from the Mendips to the sea’ it passes through a variety of landscapes in North and mid-Somerset.

Congresbury Station

Where is The Strawberry Line?

The Strawberry Line cycle route currently runs from Yatton in North Somerset to Cheddar in mid-Somerset.

New sections of the route are currently under construction to extend the path. Click here for progress.

Once completed, the Strawberry Line path will run 30 miles from Shepton Mallet to Clevedon, incorporating the Cheddar Valley Line track bed wherever possible, as well as much of the disused Clevedon branch line.

How long is The Strawberry Line cycle track?

The route between Yatton and Cheddar is about 10.7 Miles (17.3 km).

There are currently five sections:

Yatton to Congresbury – 1.75 Miles

Congresbury to Sandford – 3.25 Miles

Sandford to Winscombe – 1.25 Miles

Winscombe to Axbridge 2.35 Miles

Axbridge to Cheddar – 2.1 Miles

Where does The Strawberry Line start and finish?

The Strawberry line starts in Yatton. The route is accessed from the car park at Yatton station. The start is marked with a large metal arch over the path, of a train.

Start of the Strawberry Line at Yatton

The Strawberry Line track currently finishes in Cheddar, at the side of the former station, about a mile from Cheddar Gorge.

Where can you access The Strawberry Line path?

Winscombe

The beauty of the Strawberry line is that you don’t have to cycle the whole route in one go. As it’s a linear route, a twenty mile trip there and back might be too far, particularly if you have children with you. Fortunately, the Strawberry Line can be accessed from numerous points along its route and you can chose which section you want to explore. We usually cycle half the route at a time.

The main access points are:

  • Yatton Station (Yatton Station and Biddle Street)
  • Congresbury (A370 and Dolemoor Lane)
  • Sandford (Carditch Drove, Nye Road, Station Road)
  • Winscombe ((Ilex Lane, A371, Recreation Ground, Fullers Lane, King’s Wood, A38)
  • Axbridge (A371, Cheddar Road)
  • Cheddar Reservoir
  • Chedddar (Valley Line Industrial Estate)

Where can you park for The Strawberry Line?

There are several parking options for the Strawberry Line. It depends which part of the route you want to cycle or walk, and which direction you are coming from. You can find residential streets to leave your car but please park considerately. The main car parking areas are:

  • Yatton Station car park (pay), Station Approach, Yatton, North Somerset, BS49 4FF (W3W///outermost.pampering.speeds)
  • Winscombe Recreation Ground car park is free of charge.
  • Axbridge Hill picnic area (W3W///logbook.known.fabricate)
  • Cheddar Reservoir (W3W///mini.posts.screen)

How long does it take to cycle or walk The Strawberry Line?

It obviously depends how fast you cycle and whether you have children with you. The Sustrans estimate the cycle time to be 54 minutes between Yatton and Cheddar (based on an average cycle speed of 12 mph). We find that with children in tow it takes us just under an hour to cycle half way. There are plenty of things to look at on the route.

Strawberry Line

The Sustrans estimate the walking time to be about 3 hours 25 minutes (based on an average walking speed of 3 mph).

Why is it called The Strawberry Line?

The Cheddar Valley Line, which ran from Yatton railway station through Cheddar, Wells, Shepton Mallet to Witham Junction became known as the “Strawberry Line” because of the volume of locally grown strawberries that it carried from the fields of Cheddar to London and Birmingham markets. Cheddar is still famous for its strawberries and it is well worth stopping off at one of the numerous roadside stalls in Cheddar or Draycott to purchase a punnet.

Cheddar Valley Strawberry stall in Draycott
Cheddar Valley Strawberries

Where can you stop for refreshments near the Strawberry Line?

There are many places to stop for lunch or a cup of tea and cake along the route.

  • Visit The Strawberry Line Cafe at Yatton Station for a sandwich, home-made cake and a hot or cold drink.
  • We like to stop half-way along the route at Sandford and visit the Thatcher’s cider pub, The Railway Inn. Pop into the Thatcher’s Farm shop for take-away refreshments. There is also a cafe at the old station and heritage centre selling hot and cold drinks, home-made cakes and ice cream.
  • In Winscombe, there are several refreshment options at The Pantry, Charlotte’s Tea Rooms and The Woodborough pub.
  • In the centre of Axbridge you’ll find The Lamb pub, The Crown Inn and The Almshouse Teashop.
  • In Cheddar, you’ll find The Bath Arms on Bath Street or one of the many cafes and food shops in the town.

Map of the Strawberry Line

The Strawberry Line Map
Strawberry Line route (The Strawberry Line Society)

What can you see along the Strawberry Line route?

The Strawberry Line crosses open countryside, farmland, cider orchards, wildlife-rich wetlands, nature reserve valleys and woods. You can also explore the villages of Yatton, Congresbury, Winscombe, Axbridge and the town of Cheddar along the way. There are information boards along the route to inform you of resident wildlife and points of historical interest.

There are various interesting features along the route from the railway, not least of which are the old station platforms which have been preserved and can be seen at Winscombe and Sandford.

Cycling the Strawberry Line route and what to expect

Between Yatton and Congresbury:

Start of the Strawberry Line cycle and walking route

From Yatton Station car park (next to platform one), head under the metal train arch which celebrates the railway heritage and the diverse wildlife.

Cycling the Strawberry Line path

You’ll head across the ancient Northmarsh (otherwise known as the North Somerset Levels). The track is raised due to the surrounding low lying marshy land, to form an embankment. This was partly made of local clay that was dug from pits along the route. These days the pits have become deep ponds and are important wildlife habitats. The rhynes at this end of the line are designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the national importance of the aquatic plant communities they support. Tall hedgerows, rough grassland and ditches, make up the Biddle Street Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on your right-hand side. The area is visited by otters, toads, newts, grass snakes and many varieties of butterflies, birds and bats. You’ll see farmland and the outskirts of Yatton on your left.

You will pass a special wildlife seat designed by children of Yatton junior school to celebrate Roman remains found nearby in 2000.

Wildlife Seat

Continue straight, passing over rhynes, ignoring any footpaths to your left and right. There will be a couple of benches along the way. The path veers right over a little footbridge and left onto a track.

Cross over the River Yeo and follow the path alongside the river for a short time which will bring you down onto the road. Carefully cross over the busy A370 at the lights and continue along the Strawberry line to the right of the crossing on the other side of the road.

Between Congresbury and Sandford:

In Congresbury, you will see a beautifully carved sign made by Somerset Wood Recycling. The gravel track is a bit wider here and you can see the old platform.

Wooden Strawberry Line sign

The route continues over the North Somerset Levels and soon you’ll reach Congresbury Station Reedbed on your right. This important habitat for birds supports both native species and those migrating.

Strawberry Line Cycle path

Continue on along this flat section with fields either side until you see the putting greens of Mendip Spring Golf Club on your left and a farmhouse on your right-hand side. Further on you’ll pass a solar farm on your left and then the path narrows as it takes you past the orchards of the Thatcher’s cider factory. Continue to the end of the track and go right onto a wider track which takes you to Nye road. Take the first left, over a stone bridge where you’ll see a water treatment works on your left-hand side. Continue downhill, and turn right where it’s signposted Katy Way and cycle route 26. This takes you through the Thatcher’s cider orchards, the gravel track goes uphill slightly to a gate. Go through the gate, turn left and you’ll come out onto Station Road in Sandford.

The Railway Inn at Sandford (on the Strawberry Line)

Further up Station Road is The Railway Inn, an ideal pit stop for refreshments.

Sandford to Winscombe

Cross Station Road and head to the restored Sandford Railway Station and Heritage Centre. Here, you can see:

  • A historic station restored to its former glory.
  • Step inside the vintage carriage, complete with compartments and guards van.
  • Browse the authentic railway artefacts.
  • Restored 1940’s Sentinel shunting engine.
  • The Gauge One Model Railway
  • Refreshments from the cafe

Open weekends and Bank Holidays April to October from 11 am until 4pm.

Sandford Station

To get back onto the Strawberry Line follow the signs down a slope to join the path. Turn left and continue on to Winscombe.

Path to Winscombe

This part of the line enters The Mendip Hills and the route is straight along this part of the track.

Several of the original railway bridges where blown up, including the one at Sandford, but not the Woodborough bridge, which has still survived. (The station was opened as “Woodborough” in 1869 but renamed Winscombe a few months later.) You’ll pass underneath this stone bridge just before you approach Winscombe Station.

Bridge on the Strawberry Line

Winscombe’s old station has been turned into a village green with intact platform and original Great Western Railway seats and railings.

Winscombe station

Right next to the Millennium green, you will find Winscombe’s village centre which has two pubs, shops and cafes.

Winscombe to Axbridge

On leaving Winscombe, the track passes underneath another stone bridge then passes an embankment, hills and rock on either side. It then heads into a deep wooded cutting. This leads to Shute Shelve Tunnel, an interesting part of the route.

The Strawberry Line cycle path at Shute Shelve

Shute Shelve Tunnel is 165 metres long and it’s a good idea to have lights or a torch with you. There are cats eyes in the tunnel but it’s pretty dark in the middle. If you have a torch, you may spot cave spiders, various species of bat, calcite formations and Victorian brickwork.

Shute Shelve Tunnel under Shute Shelve Hill

The tunnel goes under Shute Shelve Hill and continues to Axbridge Hill You’ll eventually come out on the busy A38 road.

Sign on the Strawberry Line cycle path

Carefully cross over using the island and you’ll be rewarded with great views over the Cheddar Valley.

Axbridge to Cheddar

Follow signs to Axbridge, unfortunately, this part of the route is on the road.

There is a steep gradient on the quiet lane of Racurium Cottage at Axbridge Hill, as well as either side of the A38 crossing near Cross.

As you approach Axbridge Market Square, West Street is very narrow with terrace houses on each side.

King John's Hunting Lodge in Axbridge

The highlights of the picturesque medieval square are the half-timbered King John’s Hunting Lodge on the corner that houses the town museum, the old Axbridge Drug Stores, and the Church of St John the Baptist that dates from the 13th century. The Lamb pub has tables out in the square and The Almshouse Tea Shop are ideal places to take a break from your bike ride in the village.

The Drug Store in Axbridge

The original railway track passed to the north of the village which the A38 road now runs along.

Continue on through the village square, following cycle route 26 along St. Mary’s Street towards Cheddar Reservoir. If you want to stop here, you’ll need to turn right, off Cheddar Road down a driveway to the reservoir. It’s a nice place to stop for a picnic with a view across the water.

Cheddar Reservoir

Otherwise, continue along Cheddar Road and turn right to continue Cycle Route 26 along the Strawberry Line track. The route ends in the former station yard which is now an industrial estate.

Take time to look around Cheddar, famous for it’s cheese-making, spectacular gorge and show caves. There are also more options for food: a bakery, pubs and tea rooms.

See our blog post on Walking Cheddar Gorge

Is the Strawberry line suitable for road bikes?

The Strawberry Line track is suitable for road bikes, but be aware it isn’t a tarmacked surface. The entire path has a limestone dust, which is like a fine gravel.

Scooters can also be used on most of the track, it just isn’t as smooth as a pavement!

Where can I hire a bike to cycle the Strawberry Line?

You can hire a bike from The Strawberry Line Cycle Project based at Yatton Station. This not-for-profit community-run cycle hire is based in the car park by platform one. Click here to book a bike and view prices.

Strawberry Cycle Hire

***************************************************

Please note, care is needed when crossing and using short sections of busy roads at Congresbury, Sandford and Axbridge.

Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.

Pin for later!

Somerset Family Adventures is a free online resource. If you enjoyed this bike ride and found it helpful, you can show your support by buying me a coffee. Thanks so much! You can also leave us a comment and sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear of our new walks and days out. You may also want to share your own photos from our walks/bike rides to your social media and don’t forget to tag me in.

If you’re looking for an outdoor activity with the kids, why not check out one of our walks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top