5 of the best cycling routes in the UK

Read our guide to the most challenging and picturesque cycle routes in the UK!

Maybe you’ve just taken up cycling for fitness, or maybe you’re a seasoned pro eagerly anticipating their next challenge. Either way, Britain offers thousands of varied, beautiful and thrilling cycling routes all across the country. Not only is cycling a fantastic way to keep fit and push your limits, but it is also an incredible way to see the UK’s most picturesque landscapes, from mountain trails to coastal overlooks. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, our top 5 routes offer something for everyone to enjoy. From the north of England to the south of England, Scotland and Wales, here’s our guide to the best cycling routes in the UK.

The Camel Trail - Cornwall

To start with, we’ll begin with an easier, more relaxing ride that can be enjoyed by all. The Camel Trail in Cornwall is a great choice for a family day out, providing lots of pleasant cycling, and fun sights to keep the whole family entertained along the way. Although this track may be less about the physical challenge, it will certainly keep you fit and happy!

The trail runs through a disused railway line, beginning in Padstow and taking you on a beguiling ride through the Cornish countryside. The entire trail is 29 kilometres long, but you can shorten the route according to your needs. One of the best parts of this ride is that it is almost entirely free of any traffic, providing a tranquil and reflective day of exploration.

Box Hill Olympic Circuit - Surrey

For beginners and experts alike who are wanting to try their hand at a professional circuit, it doesn’t get much better than the Box Hill Olympic Circuit. This track is a great physical challenge while also including some stunning scenery, taking you on 19 kilometres of meandering rural roads throughout south-east England.

Surrey Hills is one of the most popular ride locations in the UK, and this circuit makes it easy to see why! View the lush green scenery and quaint buildings up close and pass over the picturesque River Mole. This loop may seem short, especially for riders looking for a greater challenge. However, once you’ve got to know the area and been tested by the great 2.5 kilometre Box Hill, there are plenty of opportunities to expand your ride and explore the area further.

Box Hill cycling

Box Hill just outside of Dorking featured in the 2012 Olympics / Image: Jamie Street, Unsplash.

The Settle Circular - Yorkshire

The Settle Circular is a track the more seasoned rider will appreciate, consisting of 62 kilometres beginning in Settle, Yorkshire. Yorkshire is a location that has long been popular with cyclists, especially after the Tour de France sped through the region over three days in 2014. The area has so much to attract cyclists, from the challenging climbs as you dip in and out of hills and valleys, to lots of quaint villages that will pique your interest along the way. This loop passes through Kilnsey and Arncliffe, great places for a quick pit stop. While the views of Pen-y-Ghent and Pendle Hill will make the tired legs feel all the more worthwhile.

Elan Valley - Powys

A ride that's great for all abilities. Easily manageable for those looking to shorten their route, or a real adrenaline-surge for those looking to challenge themselves further. The Elan Valley route consists of 29 kilometres of brisk cycling through the winding Welsh valleys, passing through unique wildlife reserves, the dramatic Garreg Ddu Reservoir, and the distinctive Craig Goch Dam.

The track follows the old Birmingham Corporation Railway line, lending itself to remote landscapes and quiet roads. Riders thirsty for a challenge can choose to branch off to one of the seven mountain cycling routes, the toughest being the 60-kilometre Epic Elan.

Elan Valley cycling

For scenery, it's hard to compete with the Welsh Valleys / Image: Chris Kendall, Unsplash.

Assynt Achiltibuie Circuit - Highlands

Not one for the faint-hearted, the great Assynt Achiltibule Circuit will generally take up a full-day of cycling. As cycling continues to be one of the most popular forms of fitness, tracks across the UK are becoming busier and busier. However, if you want to experience the feeling of riding a road that feels like it is just for you, this circuit is one of the quietest and most tranquil roads. The peaceful highland road is surrounded by stunning natural beauty and a spectacular mountainous backdrop. The track offers glimpses of the coast and the great landmark, Ardvreck Castle.

All of these tracks are worth travelling to, but if you can’t tick them all off your list, pick the one closest to you and be pleasantly surprised at the hidden gems and incredible natural landscapes on your doorstep!