As we’ve come to learn in recent years, Great Britain is a fantastic country to explore by bike. Whether you enjoy riding through the urban jungle of London city centre or prefer to get out and about in the countryside around Kent, Sussex or Cornwall, there are plenty of places to enjoy a bike ride in the south of the country. However, the north also plays host to some of the most breathtaking cycle trails in the world. The Lake District, Yorkshire National Parks and Scotland offer beautiful landscapes to cycle through and are very welcoming to bike enthusiasts.
Before embarking on any length of bike ride, however, you must be sure that you are well prepared. As well as amassing all the necessary practical kit – helmet, appropriate clothing, lights, GPS tracker and, of course, the bike itself – make sure you give some thought to the less obvious essentials. A decent water bottle or hydration pack can make the different between a good ride and a great one, as can the perfect pair of sunglasses. You will, of course, remember to pack your mobile phone, but what about making sure it’s updated before you set off? Being able to check the weather through the Met Office is important and using Maps.me to pinpoint your location can prove vital. But don’t forget the fun stuff too – accessing games through online platforms means that you can teach yourself how to play roulette or how to win a battle royale when you’re waiting out a rain shower or have turned in for an early night. You could also download plenty of podcast episodes and cycling playlists to listen to as you ride.
Now, onto those gorgeous routes…
Scenic Northern Routes
Water Rail Way
This fairly flat 33 mile route takes you from the picturesque cathedral town of Lincoln through to Boston, which sits by the east coast. Calling at Washingborough, Bardney and Southrey along the way, it’s a great one for exploring the fabulous Lincolnshire countryside. One of the best aspects to this ride is the artwork you’ll find along the way. Artists and architects have had their work incorporated into the landscape, giving cyclists the perfect excuse to stop off every so often and admire their efforts.
Pocklington Big Skies Bike Ride
The Big Skies Bike Rides came about in 2010, taking their title from famed local artist David Hockney and offering the perfect way to take a look around some of Yorkshire’s most beautiful areas. The Pocklington route starts out by taking you through the quaint village of Millington before moving on to some lovely smooth descents into the waiting valleys. Pressing onwards, eager riders will discover the famous Yorkshire Wolds up near Warter before returning through the cute little village of Burnby. Covering under 20 miles in total, this is a great route for catching a glimpse of the county’s famed allure.
If you’re looking for something a little longer in length, then you can’t go far wrong with the Lakeland Loop. Not only is it set in some of the most spectacular views to be found in Britain, it’s also just over 40 miles. Starting and finishing at Broughton in Furness, it’s even been voted Britain’s best bike ride in its time. This is one for dedicated cyclists; not only is it quite a distance, but it also incorporates one of the toughest climbs in England, the Wrynose Pass. Gradients can be as high as 30% on this punishing path so make sure you’ve had your Weetabix before setting off!
Another circular route for those keen cyclists looking for something to fill the whole day, the Settle Circular gives you the very best that Yorkshire has to offer. Spanning about 40 miles in length, this route takes you up hill and down dale quite literally, throwing in a few picturesque villages along the way. You’ll also see the famous Pen-y-Ghent and Pendle Hill on your travels. This path doesn’t have quite the climb that the Lakeland Loop boasts, but it is still reasonably hilly and requires a certain level of willpower to complete.
The Big One
North Coast 500
Now for something a wee bit different… The North Coast 500 does exactly what it says on the tin, covering 500 miles of coastal pathways in the north of Scotland. Exploring the Black Isle peninsula, regal Caithness and cultural Inverness-shire, amongst others, it promises to be the trip of a lifetime whether you do it all in one go or spread it out over several years. Covering an average of 65 miles a day, you’ll take in key locations like John o’ Groats and Inverness Castle whilst hugging the breathtaking Scottish coastline. Along the way there are plenty of whisky distilleries, quaint seaside towns and stunning landscapes to keep you occupied, as well as ancient ruins and fairy tale castles to explore.