This route offers a bit of everything and an amazing variety of scenery over such a small area. From the highest point at Cronk ny Aree Laa (Manx Gaelic for hill of the rising sun) to the west the Mountains of Mourne can be seen rising from the Irish sea. On clear days further south, also of Ireland are the Wicklow Mountains. Looking north is Scotland, and the peninsula of Whithorn and the Mull of Galloway, which is not to mention the great views of the Isle of Man’s own hills with their distinctive checkerboard fields and purple tops.
The terrain on this ride varies from tarmac roads to tricky off road singletrack. After the cycle out of Peel along the road to Glen Maye a well surfaced track leads through the thickly wooded Glen Rushen valley. A tricky technical ascent out of the valley awaits, then a section of relatively gentle road cycling gives some chance to recover before the exhilarating, yet technical green way track that traverses the steep slate slabs before Dalby (pronounced Dauby by the true Manx) which will test even the best off-road skills. On the route you will pass the lonely remains of lead mines in Glen Rushen and a short detour at Dalby will lead you down to the spectacular coastal scenery at Niarbyl (Manx for tail, think of the rocks here and you’ll see why) and a well earned cuppa at the café here before hitting the road back to Peel.
Serious roadies could cover the 70 miles in under four hours but why rush round this Lochinver-Drumrunie-Ledmore Junction-Kylesku-Drumbeg loop when it can be a leisurely day ride soaking up the stunning landscape with some great out-of-the-saddle climbs. Added bonus is that for the most part, you’re cycling on some of the quietest roads in the UK. Poet Norman MacCaig was inspired by this area. You will be too.
Google map: bit.ly/HgLnSr
Starting from the compact but surprisingly busy seaside resort of Talacre, park up at the bottom of Station Road, and cycle towards Prestatyn, along the boardwalk bordering the dunes and the beach, taking in the warrens' site of special scientific interest (where you might also see huge numbers of wild rabbits if you're there at dusk). Pass through the neat and tidy caravan park at Presthaven Sands and just as you reach Prestatyn, (just before Pontins), turn left off the coastal path and cycle through the town centre towards Dyserth. Head toward the waterfalls, taking a bridle path that takes you up to a pub and thereafter to the waterfalls and its waterside cafe. After a break for sandwiches and welsh cakes, continue in the direction of Rhuddlan, taking a break at the castle there. Then take the road to Kinmel Bay, turning right to return to Talacre via Rhyl and Prestatyn and more sea views. Recommended for blowing away the cobwebs and getting a great fix of coast, countryside and traditional seaside resort action. Lots of opportunities to stop and refuel as well!
Google map: bit.ly/HjuaTx
Starting in Fleckney cycling along the footpaths going over the fields, passing over the canal and then through the wood. After carrying on the footpath, crossing over the road and folling the footpath still for a few miles, you end up in a beautiful area of countryside called Gumley. There are many routes to make for yourself around there and just watch the stunning scenery go by. There are hills and flat areas, farm land and land left for the wildlife. There are so many areas to take a break and watch the birds of prey that live and hunt in the local area. It's nice sometimes to take some food along and enjoy a picnic before heading home. It's a beautifully quiet part of the country and liked by walkers and cyclists. I love sitting after a ride and just enjoy the peace, relaxing in the sun when its shining. It's nice to come across people to talk to and their dogs, and the lambs in spring make it even better. The route to Gumley takes you through a lovely wood planted 11 years ago which is full of bird life, and all sorts of other wildlife now. When the trees are in full leaf it's a gorgeous place to be. The countryside on the whole route is great, and when not cycling I walk my dog there everyday.
The road where the entrance to the field is is Kibworth Road, and the footpaths are obviously signed.
Google map: bit.ly/Hlfp4C
Join the canal at Carnforth or Bolton-le-Sands. Family friendly flat cycling south, with spectacular views across Morecambe Bay, brings you to Hest Bank where the Hest Bank Inn does Guardian recommended budget eats. After Hest Bank take the cycle path to Morecambe which joins the wide flat prom (after a short descent). You can ride along this for 3 miles, taking you down to the Art Deco Midland Hotel and Stone Jetty with it's bird themed art works. Return by retracing your steps or the more adventurous can take the cycle path into Lancaster and then rejoin the canal taking in the newly restored aquaduct.
Arrive by train at Carnforth or free parking between Bolton le Sands and Carnforth.
If you live in London and only have time for a half-day ride, take a train down to Petersfield and get out on the South Downs Way. A 15 minute ride from the station to Buriton and your tyres will be rolling along the undulating tracks of the latest National Park. Ride from Buriton to South Harting and back for a 10 mile route with spectacular views all the way to the North Downs. Pedal on to Cocking and loop back for a brilliant 25 mile ride through woodland and the chalk-white tracks of the downland fields before catching the train home from Petersfield. Don't forget a camera for the views, some lights just in case and some zip ties for every mechanical eventuality.
For some Bristol dwellers, cycling along the Bristol – Bath Railway Path is the first thought on waking up to a glorious summer day. This 13 mile route has a rather unpromising start, found by passing through an industrial and slightly insalubrious area of Bristol. However, once on it you’re soon away, leaving the city behind as you pass through the cool and dark Staple Hill Tunnel and emerge into the picturesque countryside of South Gloucestershire.
Along the way there are plenty of idyllic picnic spots and opportunities to cool off in the River Avon. You can also take a ride on a heritage steam train at Bitton, or just enjoy watching it puff past. A couple of decent pubs provide refreshments; it’s worth taking the turning for Saltford and heading to the Jolly Sailor to sit in the garden overlooking Saltford Lock supping a local ale. This can be a destination in itself, located 9 miles from Bristol. Otherwise, continue on to Bath and spend a few hours wandering around this pretty spa town. For those who feel this is quite enough exercise for one day, trains run frequently back to Bristol, taking just 10 minutes.
The path can get busy but never unpleasantly so as it remains at a comfortable three metre width for the duration. There are also no significant hills to contend with, meaning it has all the makings of a fun, free and active day out, suitable for all ages and levels – the perfect way to celebrate the arrival of longer days.
www.bristolbathrailwaypath.org.uk contains all the information about the route, history and attractions.
www.avonvalleyrailway.org has information about the heritage railway
www.jollysailorpub.com has menus and photos
Google map: bit.ly/GYAGhT
The Wirral Way is a disused railway line from Hooton to West Kirby which provides a flat, car-free and scenic 12 mile cycle route for all abilities and ages. This route has the added advantage of having a Merseyrail station at either end, with regular trains to Chester or Liverpool and offering designated areas for bicycles, which are welcome outside peak hours. In my experience if you are intending to cycle the 12 miles only, the best starting place is Hooton. This option allows you to finish in the bustling seaside centre of West Kirby with shops, cafes, marina and beach. The route runs parallel to the river Dee with stunning panoramic views of the sweeping estuary, Hilbre Islands and the hills and hazy mountains of Wales beyond. On the way you will pass Hadlow Road Station, closed in 1955 but now returned to its original state. The village of Parkgate is a good stop for local ice cream and estuary bird watching. As you tootle along there are ample opportunities to unpack a picnic on the cliff side or at the Wirral Country Park visitors centre at Thurstaston. If you are still feeling fresh and frisky on reaching West Kirby you can add on another eight miles, following the coastline of the peninsula through Hoylake to New Brighton. Here you will be hard pressed not to be impressed by the view across the River Mersey of Liverpool's World Heritage Waterfront.
For the perfect overview of northern England, not to mention 140 miles of great biking, do the C2C. Set off from the beautiful harbour of Georgian Whitehaven, in West Cumbria, meander through the lovely lakes. Head up and over the picturesque Pennines, across Northumbria and into the industrial north east, ending up in Tynemouth. Do it in three, fun-filled days or, for those after something a bit more challenging, try it in one (long) day.
This 170 mile circular route dips in and out of the lovely Chiltern Hills, home to chalk downs, red kites and the ancient Ridgeway. What I love about this trail is that you can do a little or the whole lot if you feeling up to it. Hilly, but with wonderful fast downhills, the scenery is lovely, so take a picnic or refuel at one of the many pubs on route.
Mostly on-road, but there are plenty of off-roads tracks to tempt you if you fancy playing under the beech trees.
Leaving the beautiful cathedral city of Canterbury the 'Crab and Winkle' cycle route mostly follows an old disused railway line. George Stephenson and his son Robert built the Invicta, the locomotive which ran on this line. The route passes through the ancient woodland of the Blean, and the fascinating 'Winding Pond'. The pond was built in 1829 to store the water that the steam winding engines needed to pull the passenger carriages up the hill out of Whitstable where Thomas Telford built the harbour. Isambard Kingdom Brunel inspected the route's railway tunnel, which is now closed off, the first in the world to take passenger trains.
Whitstable, with its working harbour, strange alleyways and quirky shops has restaurants galore to sustain you for the return trip. Yes, there is a hill up/down from the town at each end, but the main part of the route is fairly flat and wonderfully relaxing.
There are innumerable books written on bike rides in the UK. But for the five million people living in South London there is a secret corridor into winding, empty country lanes, villages and a place that feels far from London.
Dropping down from Crystal Palace to Elmers End and through West Wickham you arrive at Corkscrew Lane, and suddenly its woods, valleys and rolling fields. The Lane takes you right to the top of the majestic North Downs and on a good day you can see 30 miles. You might touch 40 mph on the exhilarating drop to Westerham. Turn left to follow the ancient Pilgrims way as it winds through vineyards on its way to Canterbury, 70 miles away. Then it’s the big cogs to climb the elegantly named Hogtrough Hill (15%), heading north through Cudham and the pretty Downe to Keston. Cutting left down the steep hill by the Norman church takes you past fields and stables until suddenly you arrive back at West Wickham again. The last push up Anerley hill is helped by the thought of the amazing double expresso at Café Paradou on Crystal Palace Parade – the perfect place to nod to the other riders who meet there.
Begin in Crystal Palace, South London
Cafe Paradou: 10 Crystal Palace Parade
London SE19 1UA
+44(0)20 8670 7600
Google map: bit.ly/GSITc8
Take a short and sweet bike ride from Exeter Quay to where a colony of swans rule the water, along the canal past the cows, the wildlife reserve and the bird-filled marshes. I recommend this bike ride because The Turf pub awaits at the end of the canal where you can rest with a lovely long view of the Exe River Estuary. The food is simple and tasty with a hint of exotic and the atmosphere is always friendly and welcoming. You can continue your bike ride along the river to Dawlish and even get a ferry over to Exmouth and extend the ride back up the river to Topsham. From here (Ferry Road) there is a small ferry which crosses the river again to take you back on the trail to Exeter Quay.
An immensely popular, 102 mile national trail, that takes you from Winchester in Hampshire to Eastbourne in East Sussex, via the most stunning countryside that the UK has to offer.
We took a three-day cycle on mountain bikes (with front suspension), though the route is suitable for any bike. A mixture of flat country-lanes and more difficult mountain slopes takes in a route used by traders for centuries. If the water-taps along the way do not suit your tastes, there are a number of rider-friendly pubs. Likewise, there are at least six bed and breakfast's for you to choose from before you finish at Beachy Head, which overlooks the English Channel.
The Forest of Dean is a beautiful, wild, and ancient forest. Weaving through the commercial trees and the ancient reminders of the mining past are some of the friendliest and some the most exciting ‘blue’ and ‘red’ bike rides in the country. Bring your own bike or hire. You can go native in the 42 sq mile Forest’s miles of hard tracks and paths or follow some outstanding dedicated bike rides. The 20km family route is a doddle for the kids and follows way marked routes along the old miner’s tramway-tracks past rare skew-bridges and unique egg-shaped railway tunnels. There are lakes, blue bell woods, wild deer and boar, and strategic ice-cream stalls. Leave the family behind and launch a mountain bike onto the 4.5km Freeminer’s single track ‘red’ trail which thrills with rooty drops and hairpin bends. Or take-off on the Verderer’s 11km ‘blue’ cross-country route. Only the tough should tackle the aptly named downhill tracks. Smack in the centre of this wild paradise is the Pedalabikeaway Cycle Centre with cycle hire, maps, advice and a smart café to recover in.
Foulness Island is steeped in mystery and intrigue. Situated off the east coast of Essex, it is owned by the Ministry of Defence, so non-residents must obtain a pass to visit-except during the annual cycle event run by the local Rotary Club. On this day, cyclists who have applied for tickets can ride around the flat, isolated island roads and see the amazing birdlife who make these wetlands their home (the name "Foulness" means "Birds Nest.") Just offshore are colonies of seals and there is a huge population of avocets. A small pub serves the villagers, who number fewer than 200. It is an oddly peaceful place despite the testing ranges where ammunition is fired into Maplin Sands. Military satellite dishes, weather stations and old air raid shelters sit inconguously amid wind-whipped fields of crops and the odd cow or two. There is an eerie sense of desolation, in contrast with lively Southend-on-Sea just a few miles down the road. With the highest point on the island at just 6 feet, and with few vehicles on the roads, this is a cycling experience not to be missed.
This must be one of the most beautiful, varied and satisfying of all cycle routes in Britain. Moderately challenging (at 46.5miles, taking 5-8 hours) for most to be able give it a go, the dramatic seascapes on route are as exhilarating as they are soothing for the soul. There are many opportunities for fuel stops; independent cafe’s, bars with sea views, country pubs, farms selling their wares via an honesty box, are all plentiful on route.
Begin at Penzance train station and head straight along the seafront following signs for Newlyn/Mousehole/Lands End. Climb up through the harbour town of Newlyn (with perfect views across Penzance from here). Through the next harbour town of Mousehole and into the picturesque Lamorna Cove.
Climbing out of Lamorna Cove you head inland turning left at the T junction for Lands End/Porthcurno/St Buryan. As you ride through Boskenna on the B3115 look out for the Tregiffian burial chamber and the perfectly formed Merry Maiden’s stone circle in a passing field. Then turn right, signposted St Buryan. Then turn left, signpost for Logan Rock/Porthcurno/Land’s End.
Climbing out of the valley around Crean you make for Lands End. The visit to the last stop in England is an optional detour. Alternatively, follow signs for Sennan, surfers paradise and one of the loveliest beaches in Britain with dramatic, rugged cliff tops in the backdrop.
The climb out of Sennan and towards St Just is practically a straight road where you can lock out and pick up some real speed. The sea breeze as you whizz along, as refreshing as supping a citron presse on a summer’s day on the banks of the Seine. You're heading for St Just now, passing through the town itself following the B3306 towards Pendeen and Zennor. On route you will pass the now symbolic tin miles dotting the landscape, the Geevor Tin Mine is worthy of a stop.
Pass through Pendeen, continuing on the B3306 straight onto Zennor. Turn right just before Zennor towards Newmill and Penzance. Heading inland following signs for Trythall, Tredinnick/Bodrifty/Ding. The journey has more rural feel to it now as you pass farms, derelict buildings and idyllic Cornish homesteads. The narrow country lanes invite you to slow down and take a more reflective, ponderous tone with your bike. Turn right at the signpost for Tredinnick/Bodrifty, entering moorland and rocky paths. You pass on old engine house close to the road on the right, take a grassy track here. Continue pass houses on the right and onto a well defined track, passing a mine shaft warning sign post. Continue along this track as it swings left in front of another engine house to rejoin the tarmac next to Bosiliack Farm.
Turn left at next T junction, and then head for Newbridge. Then turn right onto the A3071, following signs for St Just/Newbridge. Stay on the road for a mile or so before turning left onto a bridleway just past Jericho Farm on your right. Continue on the bridleway as it descends through farms back onto tarmac. You’ll pass the Carn Euny settlement (inhabited 500BC to 300AD) which contains the best preserved underground chamber in Britain. Admission free and generally open all year.
Turn left at bottom of road (effectively straight on).
Turn right at T junction and on towards Penzance, signposted all the way for the next 5.5 miles home. The final stretch is a chance to unwind along the harbour, St Michael’s Mount visible in the distance, and if you're lucky, the spray from the waves adding to the gentle breeze cooling and refreshing you as you look forward to that well deserved pint to celebrate what has been the most delightful bike ride in a long time.
Begin at Penzance train station, all day parking available and reasonably priced.
Fancy an adventure? Don’t have the time or money to go abroad? You don’t have to. Just get on your bike.
We cycled from Manchester up the Rochdale canal on the Sustrans Route 66 and continued until we met the Route 68, which goes from Derby all the way to Berwick upon Tweed, and we went all the way to Edinburgh.
Mine was a spur of the moment holiday my kit was not ideal. I had a single speed bike, so don’t worry if you think you need perfect equipment, you don’t. What you may lack in bike you can make up for in spirit.
The views throughout the route were always beautiful with ever changing scenery but my favourite areas were the lovely Yorkshire Dales and the wonderfully pretty Northumberland National Park. The route is mostly on quiet roads but also includes towpaths, old railway lines and other 'no car' tracks.
We chose to wild camp the whole way and always found a spot, careful to leave the area as we found it. We treated ourselves to a hot shower in a hostel and a cold beer in a pub in Edinburgh and then got the train back to Manchester. A fantastic adventure for not a lot of money and back at home in seven days.
It is clearly marked with signs all the way or you can buy a map. Of course you don’t have to do it all, just pick a section and start pedalling.
Although the Crab and Winkle line (Canterbury to Whitstable) is a lovely route, I much prefer the mainly traffic-free and flat Viking Way along the coast. Join it at Herne Bay and cycle all the way to Margate, passing through marsh land, having a sandwich on one of the sweeping sandy beaches, and finishing with a cup of tea at the amazing Shell Grotto – NB there’s no cycle parking directly outside the Grotto. Both Herne Bay and Margate are on the same train line - perfect for a linear route like this.
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