Popular UK cycling destinations
The staycation grows ever stronger as the the weak British pound makes it more expensive to travel.It’s true for cyclists, too. Although the UK doesn’t have any climbs to match an Alpine stage of the Tour de France, you can find an incredible variety of landscapes and cycling terrain right here at home.
Whether you’re looking to beat your personal best or just enjoy some beautiful scenery from the saddle, you’re sure to find the ride for you at one of these destinations.
The Lakes and the Peaks
Stunning scenery? Check. Steep climbs? Check. With hundreds of miles of footpaths, designated cycle paths and protected land, the Lake and Peak Districts offer a wide range of options for adventurous cyclists.
The Lakeland Loop is regarded by many cyclists as the UK’s best ride. The 65kms take you along the shores of Coniston Water and up spectacular Wrynose Pass. Be warned, though, the Loop is not for weekend cyclists. It has gradients of up to 30%,which represent some of the toughest climbs in the UK.
For slightly less adventurous cyclists, the village of Hartington in the Peak District is a great base to explore several shorter routes, including the High Peak Trail which is 28km. Despite its name, the High Peak trail sticks mainly to cuttings, meaning it’s fairly flat, but you can still enjoy some amazing scenery.
Scotland, north and south
If you want to push yourself to your limits in the UK, the Highlands of Scotland are the place to do it. This vast region of unspoilt countryside offers stunning vistas, crisp, clean mountain air and some killer climbs.
The Bealach Na Ba circuit in the northwest of the Highlands offers the only UK climb comparable to an Alpine climb. The Bealach Na Ba pass rises to a height of more than 2000ft in less than five miles, with the road taking a series of hairpin bends. A sign at the bottom of the road advises learner drivers to take the long way round instead.
If that doesn’t sound tough enough for you, the Assynt Achiltibuie Circular takes you round 120km of gorgeous scenery, including mountains, lochs and beaches, with a total ascent of around 1500m.
For more leisurely cyclists, Scotland has some gorgeous rides such as The Hebridean Way. Heading south to north over 10 islands of the Outer Hebrides, the route offers up to a week of spectacular cycling.
If you fancy off-road cycling, the Devilla Forest in Fife offers miles of unpaved tracks through a pine forest, and the Cairngorms National Park provides more wild open space than you can explore in a lifetime. Of course, there is also the 7stanes netwwrk, spread across the Scottish Borders.
The Yorkshire Dales
The introduction of the Yorkshire stage of the Tour de France in 2014 drew the world’s attention to the stunning scenery and challenging terrain of God’s Own County.
Fleet Moss in the Dales is Yorkshire’s highest road, and you can build this climb into any number of exploratory road routes through this wild landscape.
The Buttertubs Pass is another must for those who like a challenge. A popular but challenging route is the 62km Settle Circular, which starts in the picturesque village of Settle and takes in some great views over Malham Moor. For off-road enthusiasts, the Dales incorporate more than 900km of paths and tracks – and don’t worry, they’re not all uphill.
This year, the Yorkshire Dales’ tourist authority has introduced the Swale Trail, which covers just 20km but with plenty of stopping points along the way. It’s perfect for families with older children, or adults just getting into cycling. If you’re a history buff, you can take the Viking Challenge, which invites you to solve ancient riddles and find out about the Viking history of the area.
The South Downs
For those who like a long cycle but prefer to avoid roads, the South Downs Way is hard to beat. It’s nearly 160km of off-road track through the beautiful chalk hills of the Downs. While it’s not as challenging as some of the other destinations on this list, the Downs Way does include some decent ascents and you’ll need to be fit to complete the whole distance, which takes about three days. Of course, it can also be broken down into smaller lengths if you’re a beginner or cycling with the family.
The South Downs Way is one of the easier trails to navigate, and there’s lots to see along the way, including some prehistoric sites. It finishes in Winchester, the ancient capital of England.
The Marine Drive road route up the Great Orme in North Wales is one of the UK’s most spectacular routes, with a 3km ascent cut into the cliff-face and views of Snowdonia and Puffin Island waiting for you at the top of the Orme.
Snowdonia itself offers miles of off-road routes through mountains and forest, as well as more family-friendly routes along light-traffic roads. Sir Dave Brailsford, the man who masterminded the success of Team GB’s cyclists at the 2012 Olympics, grew up in Snowdonia and two new cycling routes, collectively known as the Ffordd Brailsford Way, give you the opportunity to follow the paths he cycled as a boy.
Stay safe wherever you go
If you’re not used to steep climbs, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. Big increases in distance or difficulty are the most common causes of serious injury. Many of the best cycling routes in the UK are found in remote areas where it may be difficult for the emergency services to come to your aid if you get into difficulties.
Cycling isn’t dangerous, but it does carry a risk of injury. Legally speaking, when you get on your bike, you are deemed to have accepted a certain amount of risk. However, if you are injured through someone else’s negligence or recklessness, you may be entitled to compensation. If you think you might be in this situation, head over to accidentclaims.co.uk for further guidance.