10 of the best cycling routes

Biking the Avon Canal

Cycling is the sport that the nation has fallen in love with. It’s fun, cheap, green, and good for our health and – as Bradley Wiggins, Chris Hoy et al have proved – we’re great at it. Britain is ripe with possibilities for two-wheeled adventures, so we packed our panniers and tracked down ten of the best bike routes with the Mio Cyclo (a new navigation device for cyclists).

10. Purbeck Ride, Dorset

If wonderful coastal views, beautiful rural settings and a handful of historic landmarks – including Corfe Castle – is what you’re looking for, then Purbeck is a must see. This 47-mile route is a great test for the up-and-coming rider with a challenging distance. For maps or more information, call Wareham Tourist Information on 01929 552740.

Duration: One day

Difficulty: Intermediate

Mio Cyclo post code finder: BH20 4AS (Cycle hire shop)

9. Tonbridge Castle to Penshurst Place, Kent

If you’re after a fun-filled but safe family day out, this cycling route lets you forget any worries about cars as it’s almost entirely traffic-free after you leave Tonbridge. From there onwards, you pass through Haysden Country Park and travel along the River Medway before ending up in the beautiful Penshurst Place estate. The route will take roughly an hour and is a great little ride for all the family.

Duration: One-two hours

Difficulty: Beginner (suitable for all the family)

Mio Cyclo post code finder: TN9 1BG (Tonbridge Castle Tourist Information Centre)

8. Penmaenpool, North Wales

One of the most breathtaking rides in Wales, the Mawddach Trail Circular Cycle Ride covers 22 miles of back roads through Dolgellau and Barmouth. It’s a steep, challenging ride but rewards you with some of the most amazing Welsh scenery imaginable. 

Duration: One day

Difficulty: Advanced

Mio Cyclo post code finder: LL39 1AX

7. Bath to Reading

If you’re looking for a challenging all-day trip, then this route will definitely get your heart racing. The Kennet and Avon Canalmakes its way through some of the most exquisite landscapes in the south. Starting in Bath, you then pass two bridges and the Caen Hill Locks at Devizes. Here, you briefly leave the path to follow the country lanes around the Vale of Pewsey, before reuniting with the canal at Marsh Benham for the rest of the beautiful route.

Duration: 1-2 days (10 hours to complete)

Difficulty: Intermediate

Mio Cyclo post code finder: BA1

6. Yorkshire Dales

A tough 51-mile loop, the Hawes – Tan Hill Road Circuit through the Yorkshire Dales is not for the faint hearted. The National Park offers peace and quiet with outstanding rugged scenery, and boasts some of the best pubs in Britain for when you need a break. For more information, visit www.cyclethedales.org.uk

Duration: one day

Difficulty: Advanced

Mio Cyclo post code finder: DL8

5. Round the Island Cycle Route, Isle of Wight

This 62-mile cycle route sticks to quiet country roads, with sea views and pretty villages. Although the route is reassuringly flat, it will take the average riders two to three days to complete, so makes a great way to spend a long weekend. For more information, visit Round the Island Cycle Route.

Duration: Two-three days

Difficulty: Intermediate

Mio Cyclo post code finder: PO36

4. Kennet and Avon Canal

This has got to be one of Britain’s most popular waterside cycle routes. You can pedal all 100 miles from Reading to Bristol, or you can take a gentle 27-mile trip between Marsh Benham (near Newbury) and Reading. The route is quiet, tranquil and flat, with train stations near both ends and plenty of pubs en route if you need a pit stop.For more information, visit www.waterscape.com.

Duration: Varies from 2 hours to all day

Difficulty: Varies, but includes beginner courses suitable for all the family

Mio Cyclo post code finder: FK10

3. Swinley Forest

This 2,600 acre pinewood forest has trails for all abilities. The peaceful woodland paths are ideal if you’re with the family, or if you fancy a challenge why not try out the specific ‘expert’ mountain biking area. One condition of cycling in the forest is that everyone over 16 needs a riding permit, but at just £2, this is a small price to pay for a great day out.

Duration: One day

Difficulty: Varies, but includes beginner courses suitable for all the family

Mio Cyclo post code finder: RG12 7QW

2. West London Thames Ride

If you’ve had enough of the rat race and need to escape the city, then this is the perfect trip for you. This waterside cycle route starts at Kingston and takes you along to Henry VIII’s Hampton Court Palace, before you get to the houseboats of Taggs Island. By the time you get to Hampton Court Palace the city noise feel will feel a million miles away. The route should take no more than two hours; find out more at West London Thames Ride.

Duration: Two hours

Difficulty: Beginner

Mio Cyclo post code finder: RG12 7QW

1.  Ullswater loop

This is a great ride which is long enough for the average cyclist and just right for an afternoon or a long summer evening. But don’t be fooled by the beautiful scenery, after riding this you’ll certainly know about it! There aren’t any huge climbs, but there are enough hills to give you a test. We recommend going in spring or summer as during the more wintery months sections of the track get rather wet.

Duration: Three hours

Difficulty: Intermediate

Mio Cyclo post code finder:  NE1