Green, cheap and great exercise, not to mention enormous fun, cycling is becoming ever more popular. London has just launched its own cycle hire scheme and more of us than ever are exploring Britain by bike. We’ve got hundreds of cycle routes to choose from but here are 10 of our favourites.
Millennium Coastal Path, Llanelli, Wales
The Millennium Coastal Park is a 12-mile stretch of coastline on the Burry Estuary which features a purpose-built, traffic-free path following the coastline along the park's entire length. Previously an area of industrial wasteland, the park has been transformed into a tranquil green corridor offering superb views of the Gower Peninsula and a variety of attractions both natural and man-made.
Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland
For a unique cycling experience complete a circuit of Lough Neagh, the largest inland water in Britain and Ireland. The 113-mile, bi-directional Loughshore Trail (Route 94 of the National Cycle Network) is ideal for enthusiasts, novices and families alike. The route mainly follows quiet, country roads close to the lough’s shoreline and consists of mostly flat terrain – apart from a couple of short hilly sections which provide fantastic views over this huge expanse of water.
Richmond to Hampton Court, London, England
Wind your way along this photogenic section of the Thames from villagey Richmond to the glorious Tudor palace, Hampton Court. There are some great pubs along the way and even a sandy beach or two. For more information and other routes along the River Thames check out the Waterscape website.
Limehouse to Little Venice, London, England
London’s network of canals makes for great traffic-free cycling and a scoot from riverside Limehouse in the east to Little Venice along the Regent’s Canal is a great way to see London from a new perspective. Explore Limehouse, once the centre of London’s working docks and now home to upmarket flats and yachts, cruise through cool Camden and check out some of London Zoo’s inhabitants en route. At eight miles it’s easily achievable in a few hours.
Chocolate Tour, Birmingham, England
The crucible of the Industrial Revolution is famous for many things – canals, engineering, curries but most mouth-wateringly, chocolate. Cycle along the Rea Valley out from Birmingham city centre along the towpath of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. If you’re hungry take a detour to Cadbury World, the factory and interactive experience dedicated to the world’s best-loved chocolate.
Wastwater, Lake District, England
The 12-mile cycle from Wastwater to Santon Bridge via Gosforth is said to have the best view in the Lake District. Wastwater is the deepest lake in England and it’s surrounded by some glorious scenery including Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.
Bristol and Bath Railway Path, West Country, England
Linking the twin West Country jewels of Bath and Bristol, this 13-mile stretch of disused railway track begins in the historic port of Bristol and passes via Mangotsfield, Warmley and Saltford before arriving in the heart of Bath.
Marin Trail, Conwy, Wales
This mountain bike trail near Llanrwst has big climbs, steep descents and truly awesome scenery. Long challenging climbs lead to miles of technical singletrack weaving through trees and boulders, across streams and down tricky gullies. Have a break for a moment to take in the views across Snowdonia National Park.
Crab and Winkle Way, Kent, England
The Crab and Winkle Way links the cathedral city of Canterbury with the harbour in Whitstable. On the way you travel through Blean Woods, one of the largest areas of ancient broadleaved woodland in southern Britain, where you can find the rare heath fritillary butterfly. Don’t forget to pop into Canterbury’s magnificent cathedral, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The uplands of Scotland are famed for their rugged beauty and these days, their excellent mountain biking terrain. Trails in the Cairngorms National Park are rarely waymarked - instead, bring a map (there are good mountain biking route maps available locally) and go and explore.