What Are the Best Cycling Routes for Family Outings in the UK Countryside?

April 16, 2024

When the hustle and bustle of city life becomes overbearing, it’s time to strap on your helmets, gather your kids, and embrace the great outdoors. Cycling is not just a sport; it’s a family-friendly activity that promotes fitness and bonding while introducing younger generations to the beauty of nature. The UK, with its varied landscape and well-maintained cycling trails, offers many fantastic routes for family outings. From coastal views to national parks, these routes offer an escape from traffic and the chance to savour the scenic countryside while cycling at your own pace. Let’s dive into some of the best cycling routes for families in the UK.

1. The Tissington Trail, Derbyshire

The Tissington Trail, located in the heart of Derbyshire, is an excellent cycling route for families. This 13-mile trail, mostly traffic-free and relatively flat, follows the route of a former railway line. It’s a great route for children and beginners as it offers a gentle ride and a good distance to help them build up their cycling stamina.

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The trail starts at Parsley Hay and takes you through Ashbourne, a charming market town. Along the way, you’ll encounter beautiful open countryside, historical landmarks, and traditional English tea rooms – perfect for a family picnic.

2. The Camel Trail, Cornwall

The Camel Trail in Cornwall has been a favourite among cyclists for many years. This 18-mile trail follows the River Camel from Padstow to Bodmin via Wadebridge, offering breathtaking views of the coastline and estuary. It’s an entirely car-free route, which makes it ideal for a family bike ride.

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One of the highlights of the Camel Trail is the old railway bridge crossing the river at Wadebridge. Here, your family can take in the fantastic views of the river and the surrounding countryside. The trail is also well-served by cafes and ice cream vendors, ensuring that nobody goes hungry during the ride.

3. The New Forest National Park, Hampshire

New Forest National Park in Hampshire is a haven for cyclists. With over 100 miles of car-free trails, this national park offers a variety of routes for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Whether you prefer a short, leisurely ride or a more challenging route, New Forest National Park has something to offer everyone.

The park is known for its diverse landscape, featuring ancient woods, heathlands, and enchanting villages. It’s also home to a variety of wildlife, including ponies, deer, and many bird species. So, while your family pedals through the park, be sure to take some time to appreciate the nature and wildlife around you.

4. The Monsal Trail, Peak District

The Monsal Trail in the Peak District offers some of the best views in the UK. This 8.5-mile trail follows the path of an old railway line and features tunnels, viaducts, and stunning views of the River Wye and Monsal Dale.

The trail is flat and traffic-free, making it suitable for children and beginners. Along the trail, you’ll find picnic spots, cafes, and historical landmarks, providing plenty of entertainment for the whole family. The trail also passes through several picturesque villages, where you can take a break and explore the local shops and eateries.

5. The Cuckoo Trail, East Sussex

The Cuckoo Trail in East Sussex is named after the old ‘Cuckoo Line’ railway track it follows. This 14-mile route runs from Heathfield to Eastbourne Park, passing through beautiful countryside, woodlands, and open fields.

The trail is renowned for its wildlife and wildflowers, making it perfect for nature enthusiasts. It’s also mostly flat and car-free, ensuring a safe and enjoyable ride for all family members. Along the way, there are plenty of benches and picnic areas where you can rest, snack, and soak in the views.

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or a beginner, these family-friendly cycling routes in the UK offer a fantastic way to enjoy the countryside and spend quality time with your loved ones. Remember, the journey is just as important as the destination, so take your time, soak up the views, and enjoy the ride.

6. The Great Glen Way, Scottish Highlands

The Great Glen Way is a compelling long distance cycle route in the Scottish Highlands that traverses from coast to coast. This 79-mile trail stretches from Fort William, nestled in the shadow of Ben Nevis, to the bustling city of Inverness. The route passes through some of the most spectacular landscapes in the UK, offering stunning views of lochs, forests, and mountains.

The Great Glen Way is a mixture of quiet roads, forest tracks, and purpose-built paths. While some sections can be challenging, the majority of the route is well-surfaced and suitable for families who are up for an adventure. One of the highlights of the trail is the legendary Loch Ness, where you can take a break from cycling and try to spot the infamous Loch Ness Monster!

Along the way, you’ll encounter historical landmarks, local eateries, and picturesque picnic spots. Keep in mind, this is a longer route, so it might be best for families with older children or experienced young cyclists.

7. The Lake District National Park, Cumbria

The Lake District National Park in Cumbria is renowned for its astonishing natural beauty and extensive network of family-friendly cycling routes. This national park offers a range of terrain, from gentle lakeside paths to challenging mountain trails.

The 10-mile long Windermere Western Shore trail runs parallel to Lake Windermere, the largest lake in England. The route is traffic-free, offering families a safe space to cycle while enjoying the stunning views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. This trail is flat and well-surfaced, making it suitable for cyclists of all ages and abilities.

The Keswick Railway Path, another popular family cycle route, is a leisurely 3.5-mile ride that takes you from Keswick to Threlkeld. The trail follows the route of the old Cockermouth, Keswick, and Penrith railway line. Along the way, you’ll pass by the beautiful River Greta, cross old railway bridges, and spot diverse wildlife.

Conclusion

The UK countryside offers an abundance of family-friendly cycling routes that provide the perfect combination of exercise, adventure, and stunning views. From scenic coastal trails in Cornwall to rugged mountain paths in the Scottish Highlands, these routes offer a unique way to explore the UK’s diverse landscapes.

Remember, cycling is not just about the destination, but also about the journey. Whether you choose a short, leisurely ride in a national park, or a longer distance challenge across beautiful landscapes, the aim is to enjoy the ride, savour the views, and make lasting memories with your family.

So grab those helmets, pump up those tyres, and get ready for your family cycling adventure in the beautiful UK countryside. Happy cycling!