As the summer draws near, there is nothing better than dusting off your bicycle and taking to one of the many beautiful bike routes around the country. Not only is cycling good fun, but it’s also excellent for your health and well-being, and the Sustrans website is keen to point out that people who regularly go cycling have the same level of fitness as someone 10 years younger.
Luckily, there are plenty of scenic and fun bike routes around Britain where you can enjoy a relaxing ride in the fresh air or challenge yourself with some more adventurous terrain, and even if none of the routes we suggest are on your doorstep, if you kit your car out with a towbar fitting you can easily take your bike wherever you want to go. There are even towbar bike carriers available that can take up to 4 bicycles, so the whole family can join in the fun. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of Britain’s top bike routes, from old railway lines to rolling countryside and family-friendly trails to inspire you to get out and about on two wheels!
The Forest of Dean – Family Cycle Trail
If you want to encourage the kids to start cycling at an early age, one of Britain’s top bike routes is the circular Family Cycle Trail in the Forest of Dean. This gentle, surfaced trail travels along the old Severn and Wye railway line for 11 miles, taking in beautiful countryside as well as interesting sights such as former stations at Speech House, Cannop Wharf and former coal mines. The circular route is easy enough for even the little ones to manage, taking only around two hours to complete.
The Isle of Wight – The Troll Trail
With a fun name and its equally fun theming, the Troll Trail on the Isle of Wight is a great family-friendly bike ride. Running from Newport to Merstone along an old railway track, this 10 mile-long route features a number of art installations inspired by local wildlife as well as hidden trolls who can be spotted along the way. There’s plenty here to entertain the kids as they get some exercise and as it’s completely traffic free you can be assured of your safety too.
Wiltshire – North Wiltshire Rivers Route
Running from Melksham to Avebury, this slightly more challenging rural route is mostly off-road and winds its way through scenic countryside and historic villages. Skirting close to the River Avon and River Marden, this trail passes the Cherhill White Horse and the famous Avebury Standing Stones making this a particularly interesting ride. Covering 25 miles from start to finish, this is a quiet yet attractive way to spend a day on two wheels.
The Lake District – The Eskdale Trail
If you’re looking for something a little different from your usual bike ride, hop on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway to Dalegarth and then pedal the 8.5 miles back down the hill! The journey from the foot of the Scafell Range down to the Irish Sea takes around 2 hours through grassy fields, stony tracks and country lanes, boasting incredible views of the Eskdale Valley. Apart from the challenging ascent up Chapel Hill, most of the route is easy pedalling and offers an excellent opportunity to spot some of the local wildlife including roe deer and red squirrels!
Yorkshire – Scarborough to Whitby Rail Trail
If you’re up for a longer bike ride, this 21 mile route along an old railway line from Scarborough to the old fishing harbour at Whitby is an ideal choice. Taking in gorgeous open countryside, the wilds of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, rocky beaches, deep valleys, attractive woodlands and stunning views of the North Sea, this slightly rough and bumpy trail is perfect for mountain bikers and represents a fun challenge.
Scotland – Ayrshire Coast Cycleway
For a fun Scottish cycling adventure head to the 19 mile long Ayrshire Coast Cycleway. It stretches from Irvine to Ayr via Troon and Prestwick. Nature lovers will enjoy this route as it passes through two wildlife reserves, and as it is traffic-free, those who worry about their safety on the open road can have peace of mind. This cycleway also boasts gorgeous views of the Isle of Arran as well as a lovely seaside landscape, and for those hoping to stop off for a drink and a snack, the lively marina at Troon is the ideal resting place!