Here is a selection of the most popular cycling journeys in the UK as supplied by the CTC.
Tweed Cycleway, Scottish Borders
Good news: you start at 650-ft above sea level in Biggar and finish on the coast in Berwick-upon-Tweed, so this 89-mile route is downhill-ish. Piercing the heart of gorgeous Border country, it uses
quiet roads and passes fine towns, hill and forests, with rail links near the start and finish
The 80 Mile Cycle Route is not a pretty name, but this passes lovely South Somerset villages andshould on no account be rushed. A fabulous example of tranquil, English countryside.
Lôn Las Cymru Trail, Wales
Probably the greatest of all Welsh rides, from Holyhead in the north down to Cardiff (or Chepstow),covering 250 miles and three mountain ranges. A week of quiet lanes and cycle paths. The definitive
guide Lôn Las Cymru — Challenge the Dragon by Nick Cotton (£6.95) is available from Cycling Wales (www.cycling.visitwales.com).
West Country Way
This is the best possible way for a cyclist to grasp the range of scenic pleasures available in Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. The 252-mile route from Padstow to Bristol and Bath includes Bodmin Moor,
Exmoor and more. Allow eight days (www.westcountryway.co.uk ).
The C2C cycle route from Whitehaven to Sunderland is probably the UK’s most popular challenge ride, taking bikers 140 miles across the northern Lakes and the Pennines. You cross England’s roof
and touch the walls, too. Allow five good days.
This testing two-loop route, meeting in the historic village of Whalley in the Ribble Valley, offers 260 exhilarating miles and covers the rugged Bowland Hills, West Pennine Moors and fine coastal
scenery at Silverdale. Basic map downloadable from www.lancashire.gov.uk. You can also buy a £10 guide from www.cicerone.co.uk.
Devon Coast to Coast
Outstanding journey from Ilfracombe to Plymouth: 102 miles of beaches, lush valleys and looming Dartmoor views. Add viaducts and some old rail-line flattishness and you have a superb ride. Amazon sells Ultimate Devon Coast to Coast Guide by Richard Peace, from £5.95 (www.amazon.co.uk).
Mountain Biking Destinations
1 Ennerdale Water, Cumbria
The Lake District isn’t all horrendous hills. This gentle track takes you into the heart of the high fells alongside Ennerdale Water to Black Sail Hut and back.
2 Delamere Forest, Cheshire
If all you want to do is ride some cruisy forest tracks, Delamere forest delivers. There are two courses of four and seven miles, both suitable for younger riders.
3 Queen Elizabeth Country Park, Hants
Ideal for rookie riders wanting a taste of “singletrack” forest trails. Fast and hilly but not too technical, and home to an excellent tea shop.
4 Bedgebury, Kent
Everything is here – showers, a hire centre, specially adapted bikes for the disabled. Choose between family-friendly trails and a hard-core “freeride” course with jumps and duck
5 Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire
Dalby Forest offers some exquisite riding through “rigg and dale”. There’s plenty to satisfy everyone.
6 Cheddar Challenge, Somerset
The Mendips’ outstanding natural beauty takes in Britain’s largest gorge. The challenging terrain will work your suspension and lungs but the views are worth it.
7 The Quantocks, Somerset
Sweeter than honey, these hills offer a stunning range of mountain biking terrain from steep and narrow descents to rolling hillsides with amazing views across Exmoor.
Download route maps (£1.95 each) at: www.mbr.co.uk/route_maps/western/
8 Rhayader Round, Powys
Wales is to mountain biking what Alaskan rivers are to salmon fishing – the choice is overwhelming. Cwm Rhayader, valley of the waterfall, is one of the wildest.
9 Dark Peak, Derbyshire
A Peak classic that’s tough but rewarding. It requires the thighs of Sir Chris Hoy, a strong constitution but the views and descents to Ladybower reservoir more than compensate.
10 The South Downs
The 100-mile South Downs Way from Winchester to Brighton is an epic three-day ride. Get a taste of the chalk hills with a 15-miler from Amberley.
11 The Marlborough Downs
There aren’t many mountains in Wiltshire but there are plenty of ancient bridle ways weaving across the chalk hills – it’s superb mountain bike territory.
Find a route (£1.95 each) at www.mbr.co.uk/route_maps/western
12 The Brecon Beacons
The SAS carry out their legendary selection in these mountains so it’s tough. But the descents are a joy.
13 The Pennines
Feel the freedom of the wind in your face as you roll over open moorland and head to Calderdale, West Yorks, where this 24-miler awaits.
Route maps (£1.95 each) at: www.mbr.co.uk/route_maps
14 Corrieyairack Pass, Strathspey
Built by General George Wade in 1731, this road would have made the Romans proud. Traffic free, it connects Fort Augustus to Laggan. It’s only 25 miles but climbs 2,345ft.
15 Cairngorms, Scottish Highlands
You’ll spend more time looking at the views than pedalling, riding from Rothiemurchus to Loch Einich. Spectacular.
Download the route from: www.visitscotland.com/cycling
16 Aston Hill, Tring
An hour north of London, this terrain is for serious riders. Aston Hill is home to some of the fiercest downhill in the south-east.
17 Afan Forest, Swansea
Between Swansea and Cardiff just minutes from the M4, this is one of the most accessible Welsh bike centres yet home to two of Britain’s most demanding descents.
18 Coed y Brenin, Snowdonia
Wales’s premier bike park, with some of the best singletrack in the world. Six hard-core circuits but the Yr Afon trail is a mellow ride.
19 Coed Llandegla, Wrexham
The newly opened park has everything – a range of spectacular trails, scenic location and it’s just seven miles from Wrexham.
20 Whinlatter Forest Park, Keswick
Home to the longest purpose-built trail in the Lake District. Ideal for riders new to the “north shore” scene.
21 Grizedale North Face Trail, Cumbria
A 10-mile trail with some adrenalin-pumping singletrack and features that riders love and dread – berms, jumps, boardwalks, all within the spectacular setting of oak and conifer
22 Deadwater Trail, Kielder Forest
This trails ascends the 1,900ft summit of Deadwater Fell which straddles the border and provides 360° views from coast to coast.
23 Fort William
To ride Fort William is like saying you have driven Monte Carlo’s Grand Prix track and it’s just as lethal.
Mountain bike heaven. One of seven bike centres across southern Scotland and famed for its great trails from beginner “green” to fearsome top-level “black” runs.
25 Cannock Chase, Staffordshire
A mix of terrain to keep everyone happy, whether hard-core downhill riders or families looking for an afternoon freewheel. There is even some open heathland and forest for cross-country riders.
Most popular European Routes
London to Paris