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Round the UK on two wheels – Top 10 cycling routes

The United Kingdom is blessed with picturesque coast lines, winding valleys, ancient rivers, spectacular hills and historic castles.

So, what better way to explore such a beautiful varied landscape than to jump on two wheels? Whether you’re a strong, experienced cyclist or a family looking for an active holiday, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

Purbeck Ride, Dorset

purbeck.gov.uk
Tel: 01929 552740

This trail is packed full of wonderful coastal views and rural scenery. For those looking for more than just a challenging ride, the route also boasts a bagful of historic landmarks including Corfe Castle. At 47 miles, the ride around Purbeck is a test for the up-and-coming rider.

St Andrews, Fife

visitscotland.com/cycling
 

Known as the “East Neuk” route, this 37-mile circular trail around the eastern peninsular of Fife is perfect for those who love a coastal adventure. The route takes in lovely natural harbours and fishing villages, with sea views even as you head inland. Once in Anstruther, riders can enjoy the fisheries museum, bike shop and selection of great places to eat.

Rutland Water, Leicestershire

leics.gov.uk
 

The 25-mile Rutland Water Cycleway is 95 per cent off-road and mostly flat, making it a perfect ride for a novice group. Along the way, you’ll find great views of the largest lowland man-made lake in Western Europe (3,100 acres). Rather conveniently, you’ll end up back at the start. An easy day’s ride for the whole family.

Viking Coastal Trail, Kent

vikingcoastaltrail.co.uk
 

Riding along the picturesque Isle of Thanet peninsula past the resorts of Ramsgate, Margate and Broadstairs, this 29-mile circle is one of the most striking trails in Kent, with a lovely mix of rural beauty and scenic coastal views. The journey is mostly flat but for those looking to push themselves, the route also includes some short, steep sections.

Longniddry, East Lothian

visitscotland.com/cycling
 

A charming, quiet and easy 33-mile ride reachable by road or rail from Edinburgh. If you don’t fancy completing the journey in a day, it’s well worth staying for the weekend given its attractive sights. They include several castles, a water mill and the Museum of Flight. Riders pass through East Fortune and North Berwick.

Pendle, Lancashire

forestofbowland.com
 

Starting at Colne Railway Station, The Grand Tour of Pendle is a magnificently daunting circular route. Although it sounds easy, at 32-miles, it can be extremely challenging even for the fittest, most experienced riders. Moorland, rollercoaster hills and fantastic views are what riders can expect.

Yorkshire Dales

cyclethedales.org.uk
 

This Hawes to Tan Hill Road circuit through the Yorkshire Dales National Park is one of picturesque beauty, but it’s not easy! The tough 51-mile loop is outstanding for winding hills, rugged scenery, peacefulness and perhaps most importantly, the highest pub in Britain, The Tan Hill Inn. Riders start and finish at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Visitor Centre.

Kennet and Avon Canal

waterscape.com
 

This route is arguably Britain’s most popular waterside cycle journey. Eager riders can pedal all 100-miles from Reading to Bristol. Alternately, more novice types can take a gentle 27-mile slice between Marsh Benham, near Newbury and Reading. Quiet, flat, tranquil and sweet, this cycle route has something for everyone. For those wanting more of a social ride, you’ll pass several pubs along the way.

Moor to Sea Cycle Route, North York Moors

northyorkmoors.org.uk
 

Challenging but unlikely to push riders to their limits, the North York Moors is arguably the most picturesque landscape for experienced cyclists. This 110-mile route roams over moorland before descending to the coastal towns of Whitby and Scarborough. For those looking to fully appreciate the journey, take the weekend to soak it all in.

Grand Départ, Leeds to Harrogate

letour.yorkshire.com
 

For Tour de France lovers, this is the ride for you. Following the same route as the Grand Départ 2014 Tour, riders begin at the historic Harewood House to Ilkley and its famous moor, the bustling market town of Skipton and on to Kettlewell, Aysgarth, Hawes, Reeth, Leyburn and Ripon, finishing in the famous spa town of Harrogate. A picturesque ride but not for the faint-hearted.

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