Cycling Cafe Stops In The South West – and a little bit further than that…
We used to base our rides around the route. Now we base them around the cafe stop, the wind and then the route in that order. I don’t know at what point this happened, or whether it was merely something that crept in over time the more and more we went out. I guess there are only so many places you can stop within a certain radius of your home and perhaps we had got close to the limits of this.
Anyway, without wanting to place these in any particular order of ranking, here is a short list of my favourite places to stop when out on the bike and the reason why.
The ‘Tractor’ Stop – Thistledown Farm
Thistledown Farm is a camp-site type stop that appeared from out of nowhere (well to us anyway) when we were out riding through South Gloucestershire one day. Since then it’s become a firm favourite with us as it ticks a lot of boxes. Great for coffee, a nice bacon sandwich on sour-dough, good views and a unique environment.
Known often as the Tractor Stop, it features a large retired tractor in the middle of the field opposite the cafe area and it makes a great photo-op for young children and childish cyclists.
Antique Shop By The Lakes
This cafe will split opinion as it’s not everyone in our group’s preferred choice. It does though come after a considerable number of miles from home. It has an almost lakeside location and is best visited when the sun is shining as there is plenty of space to sit outside and soak it up.
The food doesn’t present itself as stand-out, but they sure know how to serve up some quality bacon here (sorry to all vegetarians and vegans for my constant reference to bacon but this is not a review site just my selfish views!). Bikes are safe because you can always see them, loos are good and they also serve up a good cup of coffee too.
The Bank – Dursley
To be honest, it’s hard to say why this is a stand-out cafe stop. I mean that with no bearing on the establishment itself, but every time we have arrived here we have been freezing cold. I guess that reflects the time of year that we cycle out to Dursley. The cafe itself is very cycling friendly, although don’t confuse that with having cycling facilities. What I mean by that is that they don’t mind wet cyclists getting their floor wet or huddling around a table upsetting the numerous number of low aged children that are starring strangely at us.
The food here is really good and it’s tempting sometimes to either dive into the full English, something I have resisted so far, or to double back to the counter to order a thick slice of cake for that inevitable second cup of coffee. Bike storage is a bit hit and miss as you are left to leave them outside on the ‘High Street’ leant up against some tables, but external visibility is pretty reasonable and it feels safe.
If you do stop here, make sure you get a good rest and warm up as whichever way you leave you face a climb!
The Gateway Centre – Costswold Water Park
If you are the type of cyclist that likes a choice of salads this is the place for you. If you are like me and prefer your bacon falling out of your sandwich, then you are fine. You are greeted on arrival by a nice calm setting and after the 30 miles it takes to get here it’s a more welcome site than you think. A few bike racks exist outside and I must confess we’ve never locked our bikes at this one either. Usually there are other cyclists coming and going and I don’t know if this helps or hinders security, but it works for us. For now.
There are usually plenty of tables and most are not cyclists but like most places they are used to the Lycra visitor. I should say now, this is also a great place if you need a poo! The loos are clean and warm and there is always a nice soap and plenty of loo roll. See, you don’t get that in many cafe reviews do you? Dadonabike, giving you the stuff that matters.
Blue Zucchini, Tetbury
I’ll cut to the chase, you won’t ever visit a cafe like this. Ever. Tetbury is close to where Prince Charles lives and most of the people who walk the streets of it look like they want to be him or dine with him. So to walk into the Blue Zucchini to find two heavily tattooed owners who couldn’t be any friendlier is a pleasant surprise. The staff are on the whole young, they are very disciplined and you get the impression this is a very tightly run ship. And yet nothing ever seems too much trouble. Whether you want a blanket for your lap outside, to walk your wet and dirty bike through the cafe to the courtyard, or to even lean it up against their leather sofa, they encourage you to do all of them. The food is good, coffee great and you are aware that you are paying a bit more than the usual cafe stop, but that’s Tetbury.
The walls are covered in all sorts of pop culture memorabilia and it’s an Instagram users dream place to get the like count up. Check out some of the things on the wall inside the toilet.
Remembering that cycling is all about the riding, the social and the overall positive experience this brings, the Blue Zucchini is a great friend for an occasional treat.
The Art House Cafe, Melksham
Probably our most frequently visited cafe ever. You won’t find more accommodating people anywhere else than the Art House Cafe, a charity establishment operated by some wonderful volunteers with an excellent attitude to the customer.
How the chef manages to consistently and perfectly cook his bacon and fried eggs and both can combine into a delightful treat under the heading of Breakfast Special. Would you believe this includes a coffee for under £5.
If you are worried about your bikes you can leave these out the back in their private yard (entrance at the side) but to be honest you shouldn’t need it. Be aware this is a cafe mainly used by the older folk of Melksham and they are a friendly lot who like to ask lots of questions about how far you have been, where you are going, and what you thought of the Tour de France. But imagine if they didn’t notice you or care at all?
A big favourite and well recommended.
Jolly Nice, Frampton Mansell
The Yurt, Jolly Nice – well it’s the same place and one that is a nice round 50 mile trip on a wet day and longer if you drag it further north as we often do. Being in South Gloucestershire you need to bring your wallet to this one, but if you do you are guaranteed the best coffee and a trail bar to wash down the bacon sandwich. If you are lucky, you might get to sit alongside some Royalty too.
Either way, it’s a dead cert for any cyclist out on a Sunday and one that can’t be missed – regardless of whether it’s on route or not.
AV8 was a late development for our routes and it shouldn’t have been. The cafe has now been completely overhauled since this photograph was taken and really is a first class facility. The coffee though is crap!
To make up for this, the route into the airport is lined with wrecks of jumbo jets and other planes only recognised by Stuart and regardless of how many times one visits, it’s still a cool entrance that makes you stare. The food’s good so we can forgive them for the coffee.
Honey Street Mill Cafe
Another place that is getting more and more popular in time, particular with cyclists. The food is great, the coffee is perfect and whether you are sat by the canal outside in the sun, or inside under a blanket drinking from delicately decorated cup and saucer, it’s worth a visit all year round.
We have only been to Shirley’s Cafe once and that was pretty much by accident. It was though quite an experience. The staff were really friendly, the interior felt like it was out of the film Grease and the tables and chairs were pretty much nailed to the floor in neat little rows.
It’s odd to explain, but easy to understand why this place was full up. Definitely coming back Shirley.
Below is a montage of various cafe stops we have stopped at over the years. All of which have served there purpose, whether it’s to top up the water bottle, take a break or for Graham to lighten the load. One thing is for sure, we’ve always had coffee and never once ordered a meal that a true cyclist would. And that’s the good news – it’s all about the social stop.