As it’s Bicycle Day, we’ve looked at some of the UK’s best bike routes, from daunting hill climbs to off-road family trails. When you’re planning your next cycling adventure we recommend using our handy route planner.
Bealach Na Ba, Applecross Scotland (Rating – Hard)
Steep bends at Bealach Na Ba
Not for the faint-hearted, this famous road twists through the Scottish Highlands with the greatest ascent of any road climb in the UK. Bealach Na Ba translates to Pass of the Cattle in Gaelic and features gradients that approach 20%; at its highest point it’s 2,054 ft above sea level. As you can imagine, the views are breathtaking. If you’re looking for a challenging bike route, look no further!
Marine Drive (Great Orme), Llandudno, Wales (Rating – Easy)
Costal roads twist under the cliff faces at Marine Drive
This is a much smaller and manageable route. The Marine Drive is situated at the base of the Great Orme headland in Llandudno. The route is around 4 miles long and it’s worth stopping regularly to take in the fantastic sights, from views of Anglesey and Snowdonia in the distance, to the Saint Tudno Church situated just above the road. The remains of Gogarth Abbey and the Royal Artillery Coastal Gunnery School are visible along the route.
Dartmoor National Park (Bovey Tracey – Haytor), Devon, England (Rating – Moderate)
The Tour of Britain in action through Dartmoor National Park
Haytor is a regular feature on the Tour of Britain contest. In 2013, it was the first ever summit finish to feature in the modern Tour. This route takes in some beautiful sites in Dartmoor National Park, but be prepared for some rolling hills (average gradient of 4.7%). Be sure to take some time to admire the spectacular rock formations at Haytor.
Hardknott Pass, Cumbria, England (Rating – Hard)
Stunning views from the top of Hardknott Pass
Another challenging ride, the Hardknott Pass is located in the Esk Valley, West Lake District. It has an average gradient of 12%, rising from a low of 126ft all the way up to 1,033ft above sea level. The final section includes twisting 30% gradient hairpins (when travelling West to East from Eskdale). The site was originally a Roman fort and some of its remains can still be seen today.
The South Downs Way, Hants (Rating – Moderate)
Blue skies stretching over the South Downs National Park
This route is a great way to see the beautiful English countryside. There’s a 100-mile off-road trail that stretches the entire length of South Downs National Park, from Winchester to the White Cliffs of Eastbourne. There’s a number of ways to approach the ride:
- the route can be broken up into mini bike rides, no more than a few hours
- the whole route can be done over a few days, stopping off at multiple points
- or more advanced cyclists can complete the distance in a day
You can expect to find an abundance of wildlife, numerous breath-taking views, a pleasant relaxing ride and lots of fresh countryside air!
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire (Rating – Easy to Hard)
Forest of Dean’s beautiful colours
The Forest of Dean’s mountain bike tracks are suitable for novices and experienced mountain bikers; distances range from 3 to 11 miles. You can use the colour system to help identify the Family Cycle Trail (easy – green), the Verderer Trail (moderate – blue) and the Freeminer’s Trail (difficult – red). There are also a number of challenging trails for those dare devils, including; Ski Run, Corckscrew and the aptly name The Good The Bad and The Ugly!
For those looking to perfect their off-road cycling skills, there’s two skills loops that offer you the chance to get some practice.
Enjoy your trip and make sure you don’t forget your helmet!