The Best Cycling Routes in the UK

Cycling is a great way to keep fit and healthy, and since the start of the pandemic sales of bikes have skyrocketed with Brits looking for new ways to get some exercise and explore the best of the British countryside.

This summer many of us will be getting in the saddle and enjoying a scenic bike ride – and we are here to provide some cycling inspiration if you want to try a new route to take in the sights from two wheels.

Read on to discover our pick of the best cycling routes in the UK:

Rutland Water – 8 Miles

If you’re a novice or prefer a shorter ride, then this reservoir in the heart of the UK’s smallest county is a great place to start.

This circular cycle route takes you through Rutland’s rolling countryside, where you have the opportunity to spot birds, including cormorants and enjoy the calming views across Western Europe’s largest man-made lake.

The family-friendly trail is a flat, tarmac path that takes place off-road, making it ideal for little ones as well. Bike hire is available from Rutland Cycling, and includes free helmet hire to keep your family safe.

The route starts and ends at the Normanton area of the lake, and after your bike ride you can stop off at the Normanton Waterside Café (open daily between 8 am and 5 pm through the summer holidays) and enjoy a refreshing drink – and maybe a well-deserved sweet treat too!

Cranborne Chaser Cycle Ride – 12 Miles

Cycling through Dorset guarantees great scenery and the Cranbourne Chaser Cycle Ride which starts at the Verwood Heathland Heritage Centre doesn’t disappoint. The terrain is a mix of on and off-road tracks, hills and bridleways – some of which can be a little muddy!

There is one hill to navigate, but otherwise, the route is fairly flat, taking you past Dorset Heavy Horse Centre and Stephen’s Castle Nature Reserve, which is a hidden gem where you might just spot several species of dragonfly and damselfly as you cycle through.

If you need refreshments along the way, hop off your bike at The Fleur De Lys Inn in Cranbourne, where you can enjoy a drink and a wide menu to fuel you up for the rest of your journey.

Llanberis Path, Snowdon – 4 Miles

Experienced mountain bikers who are looking for their next challenge should consider tackling the Llanberis Path that leads to the summit of Snowdon.

It’s not a trail for the faint-hearted, as the route will test the mettle of riders over steep boulder pathways, with an average gradient of 13% as you pedal towards the summit.  The rewards once you reach the peak though are well worthwhile, with picture-perfect views over the Welsh countryside.

If you’re an early bird, we recommend arriving at the summit in time for sunrise to witness a breathtaking spectacle – and when you’ve got your breath back the 1085m descent is much easier than the climb up!

The route might only cover 4 miles, but they are tough ones, even the top mountain bikers find this hard going, with the fastest rider to complete the Llanberis Path clocking in at 47 minutes and 13 seconds.

East Neuk 50 – 50 Miles

This rewarding 50-mile route starts and ends at railway stations in Kirkaldy and Dundee and is one of the most scenic cycle paths in Scotland.

The East Neuk route is off-road for much of its length, following the path of the disused railway as closely as possible allowing you to pedal past picturesque fishing villages and harbours, and the remains of HMS Jackdaw, an abandoned Fleet Air Arm station.

You’ll also cycle through the pretty village of Crail, with its beach and harbour that was an important port in the 18th and 19th centuries for herring and white fish. These days the catch is likely to be shellfish and dressed crab and fresh lobster can be purchased from a hut beside the harbour.

The final section of the route takes you past the Scottish Fisheries Museum, and if time permits, we recommend a visit to see the reconstructed fisherman’s cottage and model boats from the port’s heyday as the hub of the Scottish herring industry.

Of course, no stop off in a fishing village would be complete without a fish and chip supper. Crail is the home of the Anstruther Fish Bar and winner of Scotland’s Fish & Chip Shop of the year. The beef dripping fried chips and battered fish is a real treat – and can be enjoyed guilt-free as you’ll burn off the calories as you continue your bike ride.

The Trans Pennine Trail – 215 Miles

The full coast-to-coast Trans Pennine Trail is over 200 miles in length, connecting Southport in the west with Hornsea in the east.

Each section of the trail offers dramatic scenery from canalside towpaths to the expansive mountains of the Pennines. Despite the location of this cycle route, the path is surprisingly flat, with gradual gradients and tarmac paths over many sections of the trail.

Experienced cyclists may want to tackle the entire 215 miles, but for those who want to take it more sedately, there are cycle hire shops dotted along the route where you can hire a bike for a day or just a couple of hours.

If you’re looking for an easy section of the trail, the 3 mile stretch from Doncaster to the New Junction Canal is a well-surfaced, traffic-free route alongside the towpath, where you can pedal past canal boats before making the return journey via the village of Fishlake, where there is a pub and shops. View the route map here.