There are some great opportunities for cycling in the UK, with a huge variety of terrains, from the quiet rolling countryside of the south, the Peak District Moorlands, Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales to the tougher mountainous areas of Wales and Scotland. There are coasts lined with dramatic sand dunes, or vast rugged cliffs, ancient roman ruins and imposing castles, idyllic villages with picture postcard cottages and ducks on the green, and wide, rushing rivers.
Designated cycle paths run for more than 12,000 miles, giving you plenty of options for designing the perfect all year round cycling holidays in the UK. Away from busy, bustling cities and monotonous stretches of motorway, the UK roads are very cycle friendly, and can take you to all corners of the country. The gentle workout that a leisure cycling holiday provides is ideal for all ages, and there is nothing like seeing the countryside via the peaceful, near silent roll of bike tyres.
There are a whole range of routes that allow you to experience the best and most beautiful parts of the UK. Here is just a small sample of the most popular routes for your dream cycle holiday:
The Cornish Way
The Cornish Way is a 180 mile cycle route that stretches from the westernmost point of Cornwall – appropriately named Land’s End, to Bude on the Devon border. Like most cycle routes, there are plenty of short, or long, cuts, along the way. Using quiet back lanes and green trails, you’ll enjoy the unspoilt atmosphere and charm of rural Cornwall, cycling through historic towns, traditional fishing villages, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), moorland and along dramatic coastlines. The route also takes in sites important to Cornwall’s mining past, along with the futuristic glass domed Eden Project.
Devon Coast to Coast
The Devon Coast to Coast runs through some absolutely stunning countryside around the edge of the mythic, often mist-swept Dartmoor, creating a safe and family friendly cycling tour. It includes the picturesque Plym Valley, along with sites rich in history and local heritage.
From stunning coastal paths, to magnificent stately homes, the Devon Coast to Coast is a popular and well maintained route.
With an abundance of quiet country lanes and bridleways, the Cotswolds is the perfect destination for a cycling holiday. In fact, the Cotswolds cycle routes were recently ranked as among the most beautiful in the UK by www.bikecation.co.uk. With stunning views, chocolate box cottages built from the local golden sandstone, and unspoilt villages, you’ll have the perfect excuse to indulge in a guilt-free drink and bite to eat in one of the many pubs that line the way.
Not too hilly and with great scenery along the way – from the wild coast to the wild moorland beauty of Northumberland – it’s the ideal route for a cycling holiday.
Broadly following the line of the world famous Hadrian’s Wall, it starts near Carlisle and heads across the country for 80 miles to Tynemouth, crossing heather covered glens and crystal clear waterways. You gain a real sense of rugged, ruthless Roman Britain visiting the Roman forts of Birdoswald and Vindolanda, and the market towns of Brampton and Haltwhistle are perfect places to stop and soak up the atmosphere.
Coat and Castles Cycleway
This route has it all – coast, castles, rural fishing villages, and minimal hill work, making it perfect for a family cycling holiday.
The most popular part of the route takes you from Newcastle to Berwick on Tweed. With traditional little harbour ports, including Alnmouth, Craster and Seahouses, making the ideal stopping places, if you time your journey right you can cross the tidal causeway to the magical Lindisfarne and its ancient monastery. Now a bird sanctuary, this tiny island feels peaceful and contemplative.
Along the way, why not visit the impressive ruins of Dunstanburgh castle. It’s also well worth taking a break for Warkworth Castle and the imposing Bamburgh Castle.
The Borders Cycleway
The once-contentious border between Scotland and England, stretches 250 miles from one side of the UK to the other, is one of the oldest cycle routes in the country, snaking back and forth across the Border itself.
Starting in the lush Tweed valley, the route is sparsely populated, with few vehicles, but the small villages that you do pass through belie the centuries old Border tensions with their genuine warmth, hospitality and home baked cakes. The towns, many with their defensive walls still well preserved, are full of cafes, restaurants and interesting historic sites. Ideal stopping off points, the picturesque Border towns of Melrose and Kelso are steeped in the region’s history. Take the opportunity to experience times gone by in their museums and visitor attractions.
The Border landscape is very varied. From barren windswept moorland and sheltered glens, to vast jaw dropping panoramas as you crest the few uphill stretches. This area is unique for flora and fauna, with some species, such as the shy, beautiful red squirrel, not found anywhere else in the British Isles.
The Lochs and Glens Cycle Route
Starting in Glasgow, this popular route runs for nearly 220 miles to Inverness on the north east coast of Scotland. It passes through two national parks – Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, and some of the most exhilarating landscapes in the whole UK, including the world famous Cairngorms.
Cycling on a mix of off road trails, and quiet lanes, the route takes you past six stunning lochs, numerous castles and smaller keeps, and over Glen Ogle, via the heart-in-mouth viaduct. There are some testing hill climbs along the way, the longests being over the dramatic Drumochter Pass, which, at 460 m, is the highest point of the national cycle network in Scotland.
A cycling holiday in the UK has something for everyone – castles, coasts, countryside, and mountains, whatever floats your boat – or pushes your pedals. Don’t forget to do your research before you set off, and if you’re looking for even more inspiration, visit British Cycling.