For most of us trapped in the 9-5 rat race, we’re already living our lives in patterns that could be easily described as loops. If we also have to spend our free-time cycling the same circuits every weekend, life’s going to start getting dull quickly. Luckily, Cycle SOS have put together this listicle of the ten most beautiful cycle routes in the United Kingdom – hopefully, you’ll be able to get out there and explore them!
10. Box Hill Olympic Circuit – London, England
Box Hill’s Olympic Circuit stretches out over 19kms of winding country roads, offering easy access to some of South-East England’s most striking countryside. Furthermore, the route was cycled by some of the world’s best cyclists during the UK’s 2012 Olympic Games – meaning if you’re up for it, there’s a challenge to be had!
Reaching the top of Box Hill itself is no easy task, but tackling the 2.5 km ascent awards cyclists with stunning views of the surrounding Surrey Hills. Furthermore, with views overlooking the meandering River Mole and the splendid Surrey countryside, the ride can also be a relaxing day out rather than an emulation of the peloton.
9. Richmond Park – London, England
It’s rare to find such a fantastic cycling route in such a notoriously developed city, so it’s no wonder that Richmond Park is one of London’s most loved cycling spots. Richmond Park itself stretches over 2,500 acres, and the 12km route is full of beautiful scenery, herds of deer and flocks of parakeets (they escaped from the set of The African Queen in 1951).
Richmond Park is an ideal cycling route for novice riders, especially as both ways around the route offer riders’ different challenges. If you decide to take the route clockwise, you’ll face a challenging climb when you reach Broomfield Hill; however, if you decide to take the anti-clockwise route, you’ll face the longer and slightly more moderate climb at Dark Hill. However, the key to the route is managing your laps as Richmond Park is brilliant for both a one-lap ride in tranquil settings or a multi-lapped intense training session.
8. Elan Valley – Powys, Wales
This beautiful Welsh cycling route will have you following the old Birmingham Corporation Railway line. The route starts at Llansantffraed-Cwmdeuddwr and winds through the beautiful Elan Valley, in which you’ll journey over the Rhayader Tunnel and through a wildlife reserve home to a multitude of rare bat species.
As the route continues, you’ll be blessed with extraordinary views of the beautiful Welsh woodlands and countryside. Although it’s not all flat and easy-going, you’ll have to make some considerable climbs if you want to reach the Garreg Ddu Reservoir and the Craig Goch Dam. Additionally, if you’re looking for an additional challenge, you’ll be able to choose to cycle on of the seven mountain bike routes available in the Elan Valley.
7. Assynt Achiltibuie Circuit – Highlands, Scotland
If you’re looking for a more isolated cycling experience, Assynt Achiltibuile Circuit in the Scottish Highlands might be the cycling route you’ve been waiting for. Although rapidly rising in popularity, Scotland’s swathes of relatively deserted highland roads are surrounded by some of Britain’s most staggering natural beauty.
The route begins in the tiny village of Achiltibuie and is surrounded by the imposing mountains of Sula Bheinn, Cùl Mòr and Stac Pollaidh. Make sure you take in the stunning views from the coastal roads and keep your eyes peeled for Loch Assynt and the ruined Ardvreck Castle.
6. The Lakeland Loop – Lake District, England
This one’s a challenge, but the outstanding rural views are its rewards. Although this cycling route has already made it to first place on many lists, we believe its difficulty and accessibility has to knock it down ours slightly. Nevertheless, this route is a must-visit.
The opening stretches of the route tightly hug the shore of the beautiful Lake Coniston, an idyllic start to the gruelling 65km circuit. However, what makes the Lakeland Loop such a fantastic course is its exhausting difficulty. In fact, merely mentioning ‘Wrynose Pass’ to those who’ve experienced the 30% gradient climbs may induce severe leg trembles.
Nevertheless, this difficulty isn’t without reward as the significant climbs offer cyclists some of the most stunning views available of the region’s dramatic landscape.
5. The Camel Trail – Cornwall, England
The Camel Trail in Cornwall is the ideal cycling route if you want a day of carefree solo cycling or family fun; this accessible cycling trail seriously has something for cyclists of all abilities. The course runs the entire length of an abandoned railway line, spanning over 29km of the splendid Cornish countryside. Furthermore, the route is almost mostly traffic-free, making it perfect for children and inexperienced cyclists.
The route starts in the small town of Padstow and follows the Cornish coastline to Wadebridge. If you’re tired at this point, you can call it a day, however, if you’re up for a challenge you can carry on to Bodmin. This inland route will take you through some of Cornwall’s best woodland areas as well as some of the most amazing landscapes the South West has to offer.
4. The Settle Circular – Yorkshire, England
Ever since the Tour de France passed through the county in 2014, the secret’s been out that Yorkshire is one of the world’s most fabulous cycling destinations. There’s a multitude of cycling routes for you to experience in Yorkshire, so it was difficult to narrow it down to the Settle Circular.
However, you won’t be at all disappointed cycling the Settle Circular! On the route, you’ll pass through the idyllic villages of Arncliffe, Grassington and Kilnsey. The course is punctuated with numerous short but intense climbs, followed by exciting fast descents. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for the stunning views of Pen-y-Ghent and Pendle Hill available on this cycling route.
3. The Haldon Forest Ridge Ride Trail – Dartmoor, England
Distance: 9.6 km
A fantastic trail in the heart of Dartmoor National Park, this relatively easy trail explores some of the most beautiful parts of Haldon forest. In fact, Dartmoor National Park is the 4th most Instagrammed cycling spot in the United Kingdom.
Dartmoor is home to expansive moorlands, dense forests, fast-flowing rivers and lazy wetlands, and the national park’s abundance of high-quality on-road and off-road cycling routes reflect the diversity of the park.
The Haldon Forest Ridge Ride Trail, in particular, is a technical route, which offers cyclists plenty of tight corners and rapid descents to test their reflexes. For those who are braver, this route also provides access to the Ridge Ride Extreme Trail which is considered one of the most challenging cycling routes in Dartmoor.
2. Hadrian’s Cycleway – Northern England
This cycling route is more of a cycling vacation, as the whole journey will take you roughly around three days to complete. The course affords cyclists magnificent coastal views as well as stunning countryside scenery and is well recommended for anyone which a penchant for history as well as cycling.
Hadrian’s Cycleway starts at the Glannaventa Roman Bathhouse, near Ravenglass on the North-Western coast of the United Kingdom, and follows the ruins of Hadrian’s Wall finishing in Newcastle Upon Tyne. Over this incredible journey, you’ll see some of Britain’s most staggering scenery, as well as stop off overnight to experience several small sleepy English villages.
Most of the route is set off busy-roads, instead following winding country rivers and railway lines. A pleasant cycling route if you want to take it easy over several days, but also a potentially gruelling challenge the quicker you intend to complete it.
1. Applecross via Bealach na Bà – Applecross Peninsula, Scotland
The North Coast 500, the road which hosts much of the Applecross via Bealach na Bà, has been voted one of the world’s best roads numerous times. It’s even been lauded as Scotland’s answer to the legendary Route 66 in the United States.
Everything the other cycling routes have, the Applecross via Bealach na Bà has more of it. Whether you’re looking for the country’s best coastal roads, mountainous landscapes and empty roads, you’ll find them on this cycling route.
Although perhaps the stand-out feature of this cycling route is the climb of Bealach na Bà, a jutting mountain that rises from the sea to a height of 626m – your legs will be hurting after that climb we assure you. Nevertheless, those who make the climb are handsomely rewarded with some of the best available views of the Isle of Skye.