The UK has no shortage of epic bike rides. From the gentle rolling hills of the South Downs to the majestic peaks around Fort William, you are in for a treat when you head to Britain on your bike. To help you in your planning, we’ve selected some of the most epic (epicist?) bike rides in the UK. So let’s get started!
The Camel Trail – Cornwall
We shall start with the Camel Trail in Cornwall. As a popular tourist destination, Cornwall has surfing, hiking, extreme sports and amazing cream teas (an absolute must if you visit). The incredible scenery of this county brings people back year after year.
The Camel Trail is perfect for solo riding, riding with children, or just a bunch of mates going out for a day’s ride. Stretching 29 kilometres, it starts in Padstow (the home of chef Rick Stein), winds its way alongside the estuary to Wadebridge, a picturesque Cornish village. This might be enough for young children, who will love the scenery and the incredible food. If you’re up for a bit more, you can push on towards Bodmin. This beautiful town is nestled in some of the most breath taking scenery in the UK, with standing stones and stone circles only a short ride away.
An easy ride through the incredible countryside with the promise of a cream tea at the end. It doesn’t get better.
The Settle Circular – Yorkshire
Yorkshire has evolved into one of Europe’s go-to destinations for cyclists for very good reasons. The Settle Circular has all those reasons packed into its 28 kilometre route. Starting out in the Yorkshire mill town of Settle, you head out towards Little Stainforth, cross the River Ribble (aren’t the names great?), head up a big climb to Dale Head and cruise along the ridge road to Halton Gill, then drop down into the valley.
From there, you head into the Wharfedale via the Kilnsey Crag, an incredible piece of Yorkshire limestone. Then it’s along the road to Consistone and then to Grassington. From there to Airton and finally up to Attermere Scar, which is going to take your breath away. From there, it’s a leisurely drop back into Settle for a well deserved pint of fine Yorkshire ale.
The route is well marked and dotted with tea shops and pretty towns, you’ll be spoiled for choice when you’re figuring out where to stop for a cuppa. Older children can manage this route, but it can be quite demanding at times, so make sure you’re prepared!
Elan Valley – Wales
The Elan Valley is one of the finest hidden gems in a country full of hidden gems. Wales is outrageously beautiful and the Elan Valley trail is one of the best ways to experience it for yourself. Don’t worry about the place names, the locals will only laugh when you inevitably mangle them.
Starting in the impressively titled Cwmdauddwr (parking available), most people go west into the valley. This direction has the Rhayader Tunnel, a Wildlife Trust Reserve famed for its many species of bat. Following the well marked trail, you then head up the valley and cycle past some incredible reservoirs, woods, and rolling hills. Alternatively, drop down into the valley to go to the Visitor Centre, where you can get a drink and a bite to eat before heading out again.
As you head north towards Garreg Ddu Reservoir, you’ll find yourself able to see four separate reservoirs and some of the prettiest scenery in Wales. The trail ends at Craig Goch Dam. Have your packed lunch and enjoy the freewheeling route home. The whole route is 29 kilometres and suitable for children, although the northern end of the trail runs out of tarmac.
Assynt Achiltibuie Circular
If you’re looking for something a little tougher to sink your teeth into, the Assynt Achiltibuie Circular is perfect. It’s a tough route through some of the most impressively windswept landscape. From the mountains of Sula Bheinn and Cúl Mór to the incredible coastline, you are in for a challenging but immensely rewarding ride.
On A roads or single tracks, you’ll be heading out from Achilitibuie along the coast road to Lochinver, then on to Drumbeg, and then Newton. Then head out to Ledmore via Inchanadamph. Then a climb to Drumrunie and a descent to Achilitibuie. In all, it’s a 70 kilometre ride with lots of hard climbs and difficult terrain to navigate.
For the experienced bicyclists only, the Assynt Achiltibuie Circular is worth every drop of sweat. There is no more intimate way of discovering the astounding beauty of the Scottish countryside, and if you’re lucky enough to get a clear day, the views are world class. You’ll love the deserted beaches and picturesque Scottish villages on the way.