Top 10 UK bike rides: readers’ tips

Top 10 UK bike rides: readers’ tips

Cycle rides in the UK can range from 100-mile adventures to mountain or coastal routes and city-friendly spins. Here Guardian readers select their favourite routes
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Ravenglass and Eskdale narrow gauge railway

After cycling the Eskdale trail take the narrow gauge railway back to the Cumbria coast. Photograph: Alamy

Winning tip: Eskdale cycle trail, Lake District

It may only be nine miles but the Eskdale cycle trail is a sea-to-mountain spectacular, with a steam engine ride thrown in. Leaving the sea behind at Ravenglass, cycle along woodland tracks and banks of the river Esk. Look out for red squirrels and savour a pint or lunch at the four pubs en route. Get to Dalegarth station ( and put your bike on the Ratty steam train and relax for the 40-minute trip back to the coast.
Craig Stangroom

Way of the Roses

The Way of the Roses.

The Way of the Roses. Photograph: Tony West

This coast-to-coast ride starts in Morecambe, Lancashire, and weaves through countryside to Bridlington, East Yorkshire, via the Lune valley, Yorkshire Dales, and Yorkshire Wolds. The route uses cycle paths as well as on-road cycle lanes. There are plenty of B&Bs and country pubs en route, so you can choose to spread your journey over a few days or a week.

Brighton circle, South Downs Way

Brighton circle, South Downs Way

Brighton circle, South Downs Way. Photograph: CarolinM1978/Guardian Witness

A beautiful off-road cycle trip leaving Brighton, on Lewes Road, and heading towards the University of Sussex. You ride through Stanmer Park, heading towards the South Downs Way (SDW) where the view is spectacular. Keep on the SDW passing Saddlescombe Farm and either stop here for refreshments or keep going up to Devil’s Dyke. If you still have energy keep on heading west towards the antennas on top of the hill, which will bring you to Shoreham. Follow the coastal cycle path and from there it’s a straight and quiet ride back to Brighton.

A circuit of the Cotswolds

Chipping Camden

Chipping Camden, Cotswolds. Photograph: Alamy

This 100-mile tour of the Cotswolds offers bucolic beauty and thigh-burning climbs. It begins in Stratford-on-Avon, passes through market towns such as Chipping Campden, then continues towards Cheltenham. Carry on to Witney, before heading back north. Just before you get back, stop at The Fuzzy Duck in Armscote for classic pub grub.

Redways, Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes cycle track. Photograph: SharonLHenry/Guardian Witness

Milton Keynes is a brilliant cycling destination. A network of Redways, which are pathways and tracks, run throughout the city and these are dedicated to walkers and cyclists. Maps of the Redway network can be found online to reveal parks, canal and riverside paths, lakes and other picturesque routes. There are interesting sights such as the Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake, and also many sculptures along these routes.

Trough of Bowland, Lancashire

This circular cycle is centred on the Trough of Bowland in a little inhabited region north east of Preston. The ride takes in wide open moorland, panoramas, picturesque pastoral valleys and the wild and beautiful Trough itself. There are pretty villages along the way with cyclist friendly accommodation, and the route is about 36 miles on quiet roads. Ride it clockwise to avoid some steep hills.

Lôn Las Cymru, Machynlleth to Rhayader

Hafren Forest, Powys

Hafren Forest, Powys. Photograph: Alamy

You can cycle most of the length of Wales – from Cardiff all the way to Holyhead – on Lôn Las Cymru (national cycle route 8) but the high point is the section south of Machynlleth where the route ascends to over 500m on quiet roads. The cycling is tough but the views of the mountain ranges and rolling hills make it worthwhile. From the top, there’s a thrilling descent into Hafren Forest and on to Llanidloes for a well-earned lunch.

Bealach na Bà and Applecross peninsula,

Bealach na Ba

Bealach na Ba. Photograph: Michael Carver/Getty Images/Flickr Open

Start at Lochcarron village and take the A896 to Tornapress then prepare yourself for cycling over the Bealach na Bà (pass of the cattle). It’s 626 metres of single-track road to the viewpoint, with vistas across the Inner Sound to the isles of Raasay and Skye. The road continues to Applecross, then hugs the coast for the length of the peninsula giving you the opportunity to absorb the wild beauty of the landscape.

The Golden Road, Isle of Harris

​As you leave Leverburgh you travel back in time swooping through untouched fishing villages. Be prepared for the climb out of the village but the reward is a lunar-like landscape. Take a dip in a loch if you need a break – you won’t be disturbed. Refuel on homemade cakes from the Skoon art cafe and gaze across the sea to Skye. End your journey at the N°5 hostel in Drinishader.
Adam Young


Antrim coast road

White Rocks on the North Antrim coast

White Rocks on the North Antrim coast. Photograph: Alamy

For a taste of sea salt and the sound of surf mingling with the spin of the wheel, take the A2 from Cushendall to Larne. Cycling along the flat Antrim coast road with the sea on your left, it’s as if you’re riding the waves on an ocean-going bicycle. The road hugs the shoreline for 40km. Zip past glens, tiny harbours, lava flows and shingle coves, squeezing between basalt and chalk cliffs and the ocean.
Helen Moat