11 of the best UK long-distance bike rides
I asked Richard Peace, a cycling journalist and publisher who runs Excellent Books and the website richardpeacecycling.com to tell me 10 of his favourite British long-distance bike rides. He came up with 11 in the end!
Lochs and Glens North
Glasgow to Inverness
Grade: Moderate, occasionally difficult
More than 40 of the 214 miles are traffic free (some railpath, some forestry roads, some tracks) and rest are on mostly extremely quiet and very scenic minor roads (some old military roads and some drovers roads). Although there is some climbing it tends to be gradual, not abrupt, along the length of the valleys and lochs.
Highlights: Loch Lomond, riding along Loch Venacher, Falls of Lenny, Glen Ogle railpath and the falls of Dochart, the scenery of two national parks, Loch Lomond & The trossachs and Cairngorm.
Devon Coast to Coast
Ilfracombe to Plymouth.
A great family challenge, this route starts with a stiff test as you climb out of the lovely harbour town of Ilfracombe. Three of the UK’s finest traffic-free rides – Tarka Trail, Granite Way and Drake’s Trail – are interspersed with typically Devon rollercoaster country lanes.
Highlights: Woolacombe’s beach, Meldon viaduct, Devon’s ancient hedgerows, Gem Bridge, Plymouth Hoe.
Wirral and North Wales Coast
Liverpool to Bangor
Grade: Easy to Moderate
Take the Seacombe ferry from near the Liver buildings and follow bike paths around the edge of the Wirral then on to to some near deserted roads across the foot of the Clwydian range of hills in north Wales. Join the coastal traffic-free route at Prestatyn, detouring off it for a magnificent ride through Llandudno and around the Great Orme before a further classic coastal ride through Deganwy to Conwy. Then use the NCN minor road route into Bangor.
Hightlights: Ferry across the Mersey, Wirral estuary views, Llandudno’s Great Orme ride and the pier, Conwy castle.
See Sustrans for various routes.
London To Oxford
Putney Bridge to Oxford
Another great family choice, following the Thames for much of the way on the National Cycle Network route from the edge of central London to Folly Bridge in Oxford. Classic Thameside views and riverside paths give way to the gentle countryside of south Oxfordshire and some fine minor road riding before a finish in the city of dreaming spires.
Highlights: Hampton Court, Thames ferry, Windsor Great Park and Windsor, classic English villages, Oxford
A C2C route
Richard loves C2C bike rides and has suggested a total of seven.
- The original C2C route 140-mile Whitehaven or Workington to Tynemouth (or Sunderland) route was founded in 1997 and kicked off the C2C craze in the north of England. A slew of similar routes followed, all catering for many tens of thousands of cyclists each year for whom the idea of going sea to sea across some of the north’s finest scenery has captured the imagination.
- The Reivers: 172 miles from Tynemouth to Whitehaven
- Walney to Wear: 151 miles from Walney Island to Sunderland or Whitby
- Hadrians Cycleway: 174 miles from Ravenglass to South Shields
- The Trans Pennine Trail: 208 Miles from Southport to Hornsea
- Way of the Roses: 170 miles from Morecambe to Bridlington.
- The new Scottish C2C: 122 miles from Annan to The Forth Bridge.
Richard also publishes the Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner.