With Summer merely months away, the Easter holiday already upon us, and the cost of holidays abroad skyrocketing to heights that few young families can logistically afford, the idea of getting away for a long weekend (or even a whole week) for a relaxing break in the great British countryside might very well be on many minds. Even without travelling abroad though, holiday activities can be expensive, and though the odd trip to the cinema might not hurt, it’s hardly the most energetic, healthy and rewarding of activities.
A bike ride however, is the perfect, free and convenient activity that people of all ages and from all walks of life can enjoy, and we are privileged in the UK, to possess some of the finest bike trails in the world! Here we’ll be taking through a selection of 5 of these trails, underlining as we go exactly why you should consider each route and what It has to offer riders of all skill levels.
So saddle up and get your helmets on!
Tissington Trail, Peak District National Park
Even though the Peak District is wealthy with some of the most challenging trails known to cyclists (indeed, a leg of this year’s Tour de France is set to be run over 2 hills in the Peak District, which organisers think might be the toughest section of the tour!), there are more than enough routes fit for a more relaxed ride. The Tissington Trail overs a solid 13 miles over a disused railway line, and you don’t even need to bring your own bike, as there are stations at Ashbourne and Parsley Hay where they can be hired for a fair fee. The route is also packed with things to see, and there are many snack stops, cafes and public toilets scattered throughout. You could also visit the beautiful, historic Tissington village whilst you’re in the area.
Old Logging Way, Cairngorms National Park
Though the Cairngorms, located in the eastern Highlands of Scotland, is a mountain range famous for its sharp peaks and rugged landscapes, tucked between these lofty mountains are numerous trails perfect for easy cycling. There is plenty of eclectic scenery to choose from; soft, undulating moorlands share space with beautiful farmland and the UK’s most wealthy Caledonian pine forests. A perfect place to start for the inexperienced cyclist would be the ‘Old Logging Way’, a recently openeing trail between Aviemore and Glenmore which is around 3 and a half miles long and completely free of traffic. You’ll be taken through lochs, forests and more with the stunning views of the Cairngorms framing your journey.
Exmoor Cycle Route, Exmoor National Park
Though it’s quite long (60 miles of circular trail), the Exmoor Cycle Route is a perfect trail for more experienced riders who are not quite yet ready to tackle the more challenging mountain bike trails. The sparse, undulating scenery and steep (but not too steep) climbs were used as the South West stage of the 2007 Tour of Britain, and moves through the gorgeous national park, with the trails most challenging sections bing counterbalanced by some truly spectacular views. Indeed, on a clear day, from the highest peak you might be able to see all the way to Wales!
South Downs Way, South Downs National Park
Another national park route, the south downs way trail is almost completely off-road, which means if the weather is a little sour you can expect to get very muddy indeed (Sunday bests are not advised). The trail starts at the ancient city of Winchester (England’s first capital) and takes riders past the infamous Beachy Head. At 100 miles, it’s a trail that should only be tackled in one go by the very experienced, but less enthusiastic riders can take it in sections for a more relaxed ride.
Penmachno Trail, Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia is renowned amongst the cycling community as not only the best location in Wales or the UK for riding, but in the world. As well as being some of the most beautiful and exciting trails, they are also some of the toughest, and few amongst them are as tough as the bone-rattling Penmachno trail. Over 18 miles of track you’ll bolt over pitched stone, dazzling descents and climbs that will keep you in first gear for so long you might struggle to feel your legs when you reach their peaks. It’ll be more than worth it as long as you pack a few pain killers and your hardest helmet though, as you’ll be treated to some of the most stunning views the famously gorgeous Welsh countryside has to offer. And you can cap it all off with a well earned pint at the Eagles pub, which has become a famous finish-line haunt for brave bikers.
Reivers Route, Northumberland National Park
An epic ride in every sense of the terms, Reivers Route is a world famous trail that runs the entire breadth of Northern England. The coast-to-coast journey is around 170 miles from Tynemouth to Whitehaven, so it’s almost impossible to tackle the beast in a single day. Truly the trail to take when you feel everything else in beneath you and NOT for the faint hearted! Just remember to bring food, drink and a tent!
What are some of your favourite cycle trails? We’d love to hear from you and see your pictures too!