From beautiful scenery to serene roads, a lot goes into a great cycling route. However, on roads that often feel like they’re catered to no other transportation but cars, buses and trucks, it can feel like glorious cycling routes in the UK are few and far between.
However, the UK has much to offer for cyclists – you’d struggle to find somewhere abroad that provides the geographical diversity that we have. On top of that, we have the perfect climate for cycling as – for the most part – we don’t suffer from extreme weather. With that in mind, here’s our pick of the best cycling routes in the UK – where will you be riding next?
The Settle Circular – Yorkshire
It won’t be a surprise to anyone that a route in Yorkshire has made this list. With the success of the Tour de Yorkshire and it being the host county to the 2019 Road World Championships, Yorkshire is finally getting the recognition it deserves at the UK’s cycling mecca.
While you won’t be short of picturesque places to pedal in God’s Own County, the Settle Circular in the Yorkshire Dales is undoubtedly up there as one of the most beautiful. If your legs are up to this 38-mile ride, you’ll be rewarded with chocolate-box villages and breath-taking backdrops.
Monsal Trail – Peak District
As we know all too well, sometimes what’s meant to be a relaxing ride can turn into the opposite if traffic gets in the way. You won’t have to worry about motorists on the Monsal Train in the heart of the Peak District – it’s a traffic-free route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders that runs along the former Midland Railway line.
The trail is 8.5-miles and runs between Blackwell Mill, Chee Dale and Coombs Road, Bakewell. Along the way, you can enjoy views of the River Wye in places such as Water-cum-Jolly Dale and navigate through the six old railway tunnels on the route.
Lakeland Loop – Lake District
In terms of beauty, you’ll struggle to find a route that’ll beat the Lakeland Loop. This route certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. With two of the UK’s most infamous climbs – Hardknott Pass and Wrynose Pass – included in the route, with a gradient of 33% in some places, we’d recommend taking on the loop with fresh legs!
If you think you’re up to the 69-mile challenge, you’ll be more than rewarded for all that hard work with some of the finest views the Lake District has to offer. When you catch your breath, be sure to take a picture – both for the stunning scenery and as proof that you made it!
Box Hill Olympic Circuit – Surrey
What better way to improve your cycling game then to follow in the footsteps (or tracks) of Olympians? Rising to fame in the London 2012 Olympics as the most testing section of the road race, it’s no surprise the Box Hill circuit has planted itself on many cyclists’ bucket list.
The good thing about this 8-mile route is that you can make it as easy or difficult as you like, depending on how many laps you do, meaning you’ll see people of all sorts of abilities along the way. What’s even better is the lovely selection of pubs that are nearby – you’ll certainly have earned that roast!
The Loch Rannoch Circular – Perthshire, Scotland
Sometimes you want a route that’ll allow you to take in your surroundings without making your legs scream for a break. For those days, this route is ideal. The Loch Rannoch Circular is around 23-miles long and – you’ll be glad to hear – is smooth and mostly flat.
As you leisurely pedal along, you’ll be cycling along the shore of Loch Rannoch that’s fringed by sandy beaches and dense forests. We particularly recommend riding this circuit in the Autumn – the trees turn magnificent shades of gold and make the loch look even more beautiful.
Causeway Coast Cycle Route – Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland
We can’t leave Northern Ireland out on our list of the UK’s best cycling routes, especially as its dramatic, coastal landscape has so much to offer. The Causeway Coast Cycle Route is one of Northern Ireland’s most popular cycling destinations, and with its striking views of the North Atlantic and the inclusion of the world-famous Giant’s Causeway, it’s easy to see why.
What’s even better is that the route is mostly traffic free so that you can enjoy riding at your own pace. Make sure you dismount when you make it to the Causeway – those bumps are too much even for the most robust bike!
The Camel Trail, Cornwall
If you have a family of cycling enthusiasts, the Camel Trail in Padstow Cornwall is the perfect place to share your love of cycling with them. You can stock up for ride supplies in Padstow (we recommend Rick Stein’s famous bakery) and then embark on your Cornish 18-mile adventure.
Like many other entrants on our list of the UK’s best cycling routes, the Camel Trail is also mostly traffic-free due to the use of a disused railway line. You’ll certainly have earned a pasty or two once you’ve finished pedalling!
Did any of these heavenly cycling locations take your fancy? If they did, make sure you take out specialist cycling insurance so you can take in the scenic views without unnecessary worries.