Most inspirational cycle routes

We all need a little natural inspiration from time to time. Try a refreshing, beautiful ride along the coast or lose yourself in history with these rides.

Whether you’re looking to head out on a day trip or a longer tour, the UK has hundreds of fantastic cycle routes for you to explore. Fancy a route with plenty of historic sites along the way? How about a refreshing and visually-stunning coastal ride? Or maybe you want to get away from it all and get out into the middle of nowhere? Then the UK is your oyster.

Whether you’re looking to head out on a day trip or a longer tour, the UK has hundreds of fantastic cycle routes for you to explore. Fancy a route with plenty of historic sites along the way? How about a refreshing and visually-stunning coastal ride? Or maybe you want to get away from it all and get out into the middle of nowhere? Then the UK is your oyster.

It’s often not hard to find a pre-made route either, as Steven Rittey from Wheel2Wheel Holidays explains. “Most routes you think you’d like to cycle – such as London to Brighton, or even London to Paris – have been covered by someone else, so you can find the routes online. Often the hardest routes to find are more local ones.”

While using our suggestions for inspirational cycle routes to help plan future trips, you could also find your own by getting out on the bike around your local area and the mapping your routes for others to use. Why not share this page with them?


The Isle of Wight Red Squirrel Trail

Bicycle Island – or the Isle of Wight, as it’s more commonly known – is one of the most ideal cycling locations you could find. Incredible coastal views, dense and relaxing woodland paths, plenty of history and things to see; it really has it all. The Red Squirrel Trail takes you down through the centre of the island, before veering off to the seawall path from Sandown to Shanklin.

It’s one of Steven’s favourites too. “I grew up in Gosport across the water. It just goes to show that sometimes the best cycle routes are right in front of you, like the Isle of Wight was for me.”

The Classic Coast to Coast

Linking Whitehaven and Tynemouth is the Classic Coast to Coast (C2C) – a 136-mile route spanning from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. Along the way you’ll pedal through the incredible landscapes of the Lake District, along the beautiful River Tyne, and vast open moorland of the Pennines. Cycle routes don’t look much better than this one.

The Way of the Roses

Another coast to coast cycle, the Way of the Roses route links Morecombe on the north west coast of England to Bridlington in the east. Throughout the 170 miles you’ll also get to enjoy the Lake District scenery, as well as the flowing Yorkshire Dales. Along a combination of cycle paths, quiet country roads and farm tracks, you’ll also get to stop at a World Heritage Sites: Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal.

The Great Glen

Up in the Scottish Highlands, the 32-mile Great Glen cycle route awaits. Certainly one of the grandest rides on our list, here you’ll be riding along the gorgeous Caledonian Canal towpath – also a fantastic spot for Ben Nevis views – and the forest roads at Loch Lochy. It’s not always easy; there are some gruelling climbs at times. The upside is that, once you get over them, you’ll end up at the shores of the Loch Ness. It’s a wonderfully rewarding sight.

Forest of Dean

This route could be considered an off-road biker’s fantasy land. The fairytale Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire is an idyllic cycle route for bicyclists of all abilities, and at just 3 to 11 miles long you can easily see everything in a few hours. The terrain is mostly comprised of stony paths, so a mountain bike would be your best bet. It’s absolutely beautiful here.

The Bakewell, Calton Lees and Edensor circuit

Here’s another brilliant place for off-roaders to ride. The Bakewell, Calton Lees and Edensor Circuit in Derbyshire might only be a 10-mile circular route that can be completed in an hour or two, but it certainly crams a lot in. There’s the jaw-dropping Peak District scenery, Chatsworth House (at which the 2005 film Pride and Prejudice was shot), and Bakewell’s Old House Museum, to name a few. Again, there are some challenging climbs along the way, but that’s all part of the fun, isn’t it?

The Isle of Arran

It’s called the “mini Scotland” because it crams all of the nation’s best features into just 167 square miles. There’s plenty of choice here, from the Castle and Glencoy routes (considered easy/moderate in difficulty) to the Clauchlands route (hard/technical) and Classic trail (difficult/severe). You’ll need a sturdy mountain bike for the latter two treks, as they’re both very hilly and are mainly rough terrain. So what makes it inspiring? Well, for one thing the wildlife on display can be immense; dolphins, sharks, seals, otters, golden eagles and red deer can be all spotted when cycling on the Isle of Arran.

Lôn Las Cymru North

Riding from Mid Wales to Anglesey, the northern part of this route stretching through the heart of Wales is definitely the hardest, although not on the same level as Arran’s Classic trail. Although remote and challenging in spots, there’s also plenty of fun and comfort to be found as you ride through towns like Llanidloes, Machynlleth, Dolgellau and Caernarfon. Out on the mountains you’ll bike with the peaks of Snowdonia as your backdrop - beautiful.

Of course, once you’ve completed some of these inspiring UK routes, you might want to consider occasionally heading overseas.

“In Germany, towns and cities are marked out way in advance and it is possible to cycle from place to place quite easily by bike,” Steven says. “Good examples include Passau to Vienna along the Danube Cycle Path or Lake Constance in Germany/Switzerland and Austria.”

Feeling inspired? Let us know where you’re going to cycle next in the comments below!

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