Our favourite UK cycling routes

Our favourite UK cycling routes

Here in the UK we have incredible countryside and diverse landscapes, which make for brilliant cycle routes. From the stunning coastal views of Devon to the wild Highlands of Scotland there are many amazing places to ride your bike. We have picked our favourite and best cycle routes from all across the UK to share with you.

Traffic free and easy

Tarka Cycle Trail

Stretching for over 52km/32 miles, the Tarka Cycle Trail in Devon is completely traffic free. It got its name as it follows the journey of Tarka the Otter in the classic tale written by Henry Williamson, from Braunton to Barnstaple, then to Instow, Bideford, Great Torrington and on to Meeth. It is part of the longer ‘Devon Coast to Coast’ National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 27. The complete 102-mile route runs between Ilfracombe on the north Devon coast to Plymouth on the south coast.

With no traffic, very easy terrain and beautiful views across the estuary, woodlands and the edge of Dartmoor this is a really relaxing place to ride. It’s great for children or newcomers to cycling as the route can be broken up into smaller chunks by stopping off at the towns and villages along the way. There are bridges to cross, sculptures to look at and a café in an old railway carriage to keep young cyclists entertained.

For more information visit www.exploredevon.info

Wild and remote

Assynt Achiltibuie, Highlands

Picking just one route in Scotland is difficult. With its stunning coastlines, dramatic mountains, wild open expanses of land and sky and quiet roads it is one of the best places to go for a cycle touring holiday. But for a single day ride this challenging loop in the north west of Scotland offers a taste of some of the country’s wildest and most idyllic landscapes. You can see famous mountains such as Sula Bheinn, Cùl Mòr and Stac Pollaidh, and visit tranquil beaches and ride alongside lochs.

It is a tough 70 miles, though you can cut it shorter if you need to by turning inland after Lochinver, which takes you toward Ardvreck Castle, alongside Loch Assynt. There are loads of things to see along the way but you need to make sure you carry plenty of food and drink with you because for long sections there’s nowhere to restock – but that isolation is all part of the charm! It’s certainly a ride you won’t forget.

For more information visit www.visitscotland.com

Hilly and challenging

Sedbergh, Yorkshire Dales

If you love hills there are plenty of places to stretch your legs in the UK but one of our favourites is in the Yorkshire Dales. Starting and finishing in the market town of Sedbergh it is a tour of three dales, Barbondale, Dentdale and Mallerstang. Starting with the long but relatively gentle climb of Barbondale, you get your first taste of Dales scenery and the dramatic steep sided valley with a river running along the bottom. At the top you plunge down into Dentdale and begin to slowly wind your way upwards to the foot of ‘The Coal Road’, which takes you to Dent Station, the highest station in England.

It’s a challenging but very manageable 50-mile loop, with coffee shops in Barbon and Dent to break it up. The Fat Lamb at Ravenstonedale is just 11 miles from the finish in Sedbergh, and the last part is all downhill so you can relax with a drink and a bite to eat knowing the hard work is over.

For more information visit www.sedbergh.org.uk

Easy by rail

London rail loops

There is something really enjoyable about riding one way and then taking the train back. It feels like more of an adventure than a regular loop ride. Plus, while sitting on the train with aching legs, you can look out the window and see just how far you cycled.

For South Londoners the classic route is to Brighton. On this ride you cross both the North and South Downs to arrive at the beach for fish and chips, followed by a short journey on the mainline back to Clapham.

For North and East Londoners, the 60-mile route to Cambridge is a great option. It isn’t a particularly tough ride as it starts with a really flat section through the Lee Valley before taking in the undulating countryside of Essex and Hertfordshire. Despite the proximity to London you can use quieter roads, making it possible to relax and enjoy the scenery. At the end of the ride it is just an hour back to London King’s Cross station, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy exploring the narrow, historic streets of Cambridge.

For more information visit www.beeline.co/blogs/cycling/london-to-cambridge

Sea to Sea

Irish Sea and North Sea

Known as the Sea to Sea or C2C, this is a coast-to-coast route between the Irish Sea and the North Sea in northern England. It crosses through the northern part of the Lake District and the Pennines so you get to tick off some classic climbs, like Whinlatter Pass in Keswick and Hartside in the Peninnes, along the way. The final part is along the old Consett and Sunderland railway line – so pretty much flat, which your legs will thank you for!

This is one of the most ridden routes in the UK, but like all classics it is popular for good reason. It’s nearly 140 miles so it makes a (very) challenging single-day ride, or a pleasurable one- or two-day cycle tour. There are several guiding and baggage transfer companies operating on the route so you can enjoy a point-to-point tour without carrying all your gear or worrying about the logistics.

For more information visit www.sustrans.org.uk

So much more

These are our favourite rides but there are many places we won’t yet have experienced. So help us out – if you have ridden somewhere amazing let us know. We’d love to hear your suggestions on where our next cycling trip should be.