10 of the best cycling trails in the UK | Travel

Viking Coastal Trail, Kent

The Viking Trail runs for 51 km around the Isle of Thanet and can be divided into shorter, family-friendly day tours, while the entire route makes a wonderful two-day trek, combining long stretches of coast and the vibrant coastal towns including Margate and Ramsgate with quiet inland villages, 7th century Minster Abbey and the stunning chalk piles of Botany Bay, this is a varied excursion. Start in Margate and stop for a swim in Minnis Bay, before turning inside and spending the night at the Corner House in Minster. On the second day, the Kent coast exits from Ramsgate around the far eastern end, until you reach Margate.
My husband from £110 for bed and breakfast; Cornerhouserestaurants.co.uk;Explorekent.org

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, South Wales

Photo: Blue Loft Photo Library / Alami

Flat, quiet and exquisitely beautiful, the Monmouthshire Pass and Brecon Channel offer a glimpse into the area’s industrial history along with plenty of natural wildlife: navigators and red kites are often spotted above the water. The stretch from Llangynidr to Brecon is ideal for a daytime ride (28km) with a night in Brecon before heading back the next day. There are some lovely canal-side pubs on the way, including the Royal Oak at Pencelli and the Star Inn at Talybont-on-Usk. Stay at the Grange Guest House, an elegant bed and breakfast in the heart of Brecon.
My husband from £75 for bed and breakfast; thegrange-brecon.co.uk; breconbeacons.org

Leaving Trail, Devon

Young cyclists on the Tarka Trail National Cycle Route 27 in Braunton, North Devon, UK Location Brownton, North Devon, UK Pickup date May 31, 2010
Photography: Nick Turner/Almy

The Tarka Trail runs for 180 km and is a great route for long distances, but the section between Braunton and Meeth (49 km) is ideal for a relaxing weekend as this entire section of the trail is traffic-free. The route begins with a lovely waterside ride around the mouth of the River Tau to Barnstable and then passes through the rolling Devonshire countryside on quiet lanes. To shorten the route a bit, stop for the night at Great Torrington, where Smytham Manor offers stately antlers and lodges in a rustic country park located directly on the Tarka Trail.
pods from £35 per night; smytham.co.uk; tarkatrail.org.uk

Mud Trails, St Austell, Cornwall

Mud Trails, St Austell, Cornwall
Photography: David Hastellow/Almy

An ideal choice for younger families and novice cyclists, or those who want to combine shorter rides with other activities, Clay Trails derives its name from the area’s history as a clay mining area. Routes range from challenging hill rides with beautiful views of St Austell Bay to gentle, flat trails that can easily be completed in under an hour. Three of the eight cycle paths, with routes through forests and wastelands, as well as a 7-kilometer trail to the Eden Project. Cornwall is an excellent family option just outside St Austell, with self-catering inns combined with classic hotel rooms and a full-service spa.
Doubles from £103.50 for bed and breakfast; thecornwall.com; claytrails.co.uk

Family Cycle Path, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire

Family Cycle Path, Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Photography: Stephen Dore / Alami

A great family activity, this 15 km loop through the forest is accessible for all ages and levels of cyclists, with a range of former railroad tracks, trails and trails linking some of the forest’s highlights, including the Sculpture Trail at Beechenhurst and Mallards Pike Lake . The Forest of Dean Cycle Center in Cannop provides an excellent start/end point, with bike rentals, maps, and refreshments. Stay at Speech House, a former coaching inn in the nearby village of Coleford.
My husband from £76 for bed and breakfast; thespeechhouse.co.uk; visitdeanwye.co.uk

Burford East Circle, Cotswolds

Burford East Circle, Cotswolds
Photography: Nick Turner/Almy

This beautiful 52km trail through the Windrush Valley is a great way to see some of the biggest sights in the East Cotswolds, without having to get in a car. The trail begins and ends in picturesque Burford, and the trail connects Blenheim Palace, Minster Lovell Hall, and Einsham Park, along with hamlets and pristine villages, with classic Cotswold stone houses. Charlbury Village is the perfect midway point. Soothe weary ends of the saddle with a hearty dinner and a relaxing night at the charming Bull Inn, before finishing off the circuit the next day.
My husband from £102 for bed and breakfast; cotswolds.com

The Settle Circular, Yorkshire Dales

The Settle Circular, Yorkshire
Photography: Jon Sparks/Almy

This scenic 28 km trail begins and ends in Seattle, and takes the southwest tip of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with contrasting views of Riplesdale, the Boland Forest and the Western Dales Hills. All the hard work at first, with a steady climb up to Swarth Moor, before an easy slope stretch to Clapham Village. Here, the New Inn provides a comfortable place to stay, with quick breakfasts to fuel the second half of the journey through Eldroth Village and across Penny Bridge to Settle.
My husband from £110 for bed and breakfast; newinnclapham.com; cyclethedales.org.uk

Cromer Loeb, Norfolk

Cromer Loeb, Norfolk
Photography: Kieron Tofel

This 38 km route offers a wonderful mix of coastal start and finish, passing time along quiet Norfolk country lanes, discovering historic churches and quaint, pristine villages. The trip also takes in the rural Mannington estate – famous for its beautiful gardens – Walterton; Saracen’s Head at Wolterton is a great place to break the trip, with elegant rooms and an upscale restaurant. On the second day, drift slowly into Cromer for a sea snorkel and a crab sandwich as a reward after the ride.
My husband from £110 for bed and breakfast; saracenshead-norfolk.co.uk; norfolkcoastaonb.org.uk

Red Squirrel Trail, Isle of Wight

Red Squirrel Trail, Isle of Wight

Named after one of the island’s most famous wildlife species, this 51-kilometer trail is ideal for families, as most of the trail is traffic-free and pleasantly flat. Beginning in East Cowes, the route follows the Old Railroad to Newport, runs along the Medina River and then joins a second rail line all the way to Sandown and Shanklin on the east coast. Stay the night at the Clifton, a friendly little hotel perched on the picturesque Shanklin Cliff with fantastic sea views, before the next day’s trek through Godshill and Wroxall and back to Cowes.
My husband from £99 for bed and breakfast; thecliftonshanklin.co.uk, redsquirreltrail.org.uk

Four Monasteries Road, Scottish Borders

Four Monasteries Road, Scottish Borders
Photography: Ian Masterton/Almy

A challenging trek with two tax climbs, this 90-kilometre route connects four of Scotland’s most beautiful monasteries: Melrose – famous as the burial site of Robert the Bruce’s heart – Kelso and Dryburg and the astonishing 12th century Jedburg, still complete, apart from its roof . There are two long and difficult ascents, with the Eldon Hills rising around the pass, and the Teviot and Tweed rivers sparkling in the distance. Plan the route to allow for an overnight stop in Kelso, where the Queen’s Head Inn offers comfortable lodging and classic pub food.
My husband from £100 for bed and breakfast; queensheadhotelkelso.com.

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