One reason we all love cycling is that it allows us to get places faster than walking, while still enjoying the scenery. Let’s face it, Britain at its most beautiful in Summer is hard to beat, the greenery, the rivers, canals, lakes, hills, mountains and country roads.
Britain has also made it pretty easy to get about by bike, with 14,000 miles of National Cycle Network paths and routes, many of which are traffic-free. So what’s stopping you?
Here’s a few hand-selected trails from some of the best cycle routes in Britain, all of which have been selected from the Sustrans website which is provided to promote cycling in Britain.
The Cuckoo Trail – Traffic Free South East England
On Route 21 of the National Cycle Network
Length: 14 miles
Difficulty: Family Friendly
In the South East of England, the Cuckoo Trail is one of the most popular cycling routes, suitable for families because most of it is off-road on relatively flat easy trails. It traverses a range of Britains greatest backdrops with leafy woodlands, open grassland, arable farmland, pastures and fields filled with wildflowers. Take a picnic, as there are stopping points along the trail where you can sit on wooden benches to take in the scenery.
It’s named the Cuckoo trail because it is on the former ‘Cuckoo Line’ railway track from Heathfield to Eastbourne Park. It passes through Horam, Hailsham and Polegate.
Along the route, there are sculptures in wood and steel and other artwork. Another feature is the Victorian brick arch bridges between Hellingly and Horam, with the most impressive bridge being the Heathfield Tunnel.
A full map of the trail with further information can be downloaded here.
The Camel Trail – Picturesque Cornwall for Bird Lover
On Route 32 of the National Cycle Network
Length: 18 miles
Difficulty: Family Friendly, great for Bird Watchers
The Camel Trail is rightly one of the most popular family-friendly cycle routes in Britain because of its location in Cornwall close to mainly holiday resorts, and its enviable trek alongside the Camel Estuary which is renowned for the birds that frequent it. The trail runs 18 miles from Padstow through Wadebridge, Bodmin and then ending in Poley’s Bridge, or vice versa of course.
The trail is mainly old railway path so is even and in good condition, suitable for most bikes, and certainly no problem for an electric bike. The route is mainly traffic free, so great for children too.
The countryside is varied, including woodland in the Upper Camel Valley, and the views across the estuary, before skimming the edges of Bodmin Moor.
A leaflet with a map of the trail and other information can be downloaded here.
Consett & Sunderland Railway Path – 19th Century North East England
On Route 7 of the National Cycle Network
Length: 26 miles
Difficulty: Family Friendly sections, but long full trail
The Beamish Open Air Museum is a unique and popular attraction in the North East, housing a working 19th Century village, with villagers and all. It’s one of the stops along the Consett & Sunderland Railway path. At 26 miles the trail is probably too long for a full day ride there and back so most people pick a section of the ride such as Consett to Beamish (10.5 miles each way), Beamish to Washington (7.5 miles) or Washington to Sunderland (8 miles). However, an electric bike does make the full journey possible, especially if you have an ebike that does 50+ miles per charge like the E-xplorer.
Along the route, you’ll discover Hell Hole Wood, and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre at Washington. A variety of landscapes is ready to be discovered while remaining for most of the journey on stable gravel and tarmac paths wide enough for passing walkers and other cyclists.