10 of the UK’s finest cycle trails for household days out | Biking holidays
The ritual of driving bikes collectively was a saving grace for our household throughout lockdown. We began biking to offer our sons some train within the absence of college playtime or a correct backyard, nevertheless it grew to become a lot greater than that. The meditative features of pedalling, of heading someplace in the identical path, introduced a way of unity and calm to us all.
Some days we rode via woods, others by the ocean; some days we chatted, others we stayed silent. However we at all times returned dwelling feeling higher.
Ballater to Aboyne, Deeside Approach, Aberdeenshire
This mellow, traffic-free part of the Deeside Approach runs alongside the outdated railway route that when transported the royals to Balmoral, so you possibly can thank Queen Victoria for the very fact it’s good and flat and conducive to household biking. This experience begins at Ballater, on the japanese aspect of the Cairngorms national park, and runs via forest and heathland which are particularly enticing in autumn. Look out for the historic Cambus O’Might suspension bridge, which was broken by floods in 2015 – the restoration is because of be completed this 12 months. And in case your kids like spooky tales, present them the watchtowers constructed to discourage grave robbers at Banchory. That is an out-and-back route relatively than a loop, so if the total experience to Aboyne appears too lengthy, merely flip round earlier to make it a shorter experience.
• Distance 22 miles return. Bike rent £20 a day grownup, £10 baby, £25 guided tour, from Bike Station Ballater. Eat Bridge House Cafe in Ballater. Route deesideway.org
Callander to Strathyre, the Trossachs
The Trossachs could also be best-known for his or her most well-known resident, Rob Roy MacGregor, however the nationwide park – usually described because the Highlands in miniature – can be an excellent place for household biking with a wild and distant really feel, despite the fact that it’s lower than an hour’s drive from Glasgow. Sustrans Nationwide Route 7 runs on the outdated railway line to Oban, alongside the scenic River Leny (inform youngsters to look out for the Falls of Leny en route), earlier than heading via the forest to Loch Lubnaig. Right here, the views of the Loch and Ben Ledi are breathtaking. The observe is a mixture of clean concrete and gravel, so it’s finest suited to hybrids or mountain bikes, and it’s principally flat with some small hills as you strategy Strathyre.
• Distance 20 miles return. Bike rent £20 a day grownup, £10 baby, from Wheels Cycling Centre. Eat The Broch Cafe in Strathyre. Route scottish-cycling.com
Kennet & Avon Cycle Route, Somerset-Wiltshire
The traffic-free stretch of the historic Kennet & Avon Canal between Bathtub and Bradford-on-Avon is as tranquil as it’s picturesque. The trail is shared with walkers, which retains the tempo of driving sluggish, matching that of the gorgeous painted narrowboats moseying alongside this canal constructed to hyperlink London to Bristol. This makes the route completely suited to relaxed household biking – and like all towpaths, it’s principally flat. Highlights embody Claverton Pumping Station and the restored limestone aqueducts at Avoncliff and Dundas, that are undoubtedly beautiful, however youngsters may also love the barge that sells ice-cream at Dundas and the various rope swings arrange by different households alongside the way in which.
• Distance 17.6 miles return. Bike rent £18 a day grownup, £15 baby, from Bath Narrowboats. Eat The Cross Guns at Avoncliff Route sustrans.org.uk
The Photo voltaic System Greenway, York
Do you know you possibly can experience to the solar, Saturn and the opposite planets of the photo voltaic system only a brief, traffic-free means from the centre of York? Assured to fireplace kids’s imaginations, this superb out of doors astronomy mannequin, constructed to scale, was created by the College of York. It sits in a nature reserve on the route of the outdated East Coast mainline, a inexperienced hall with protected bee and butterfly habitats throughout. Make sure you present youngsters the wire sculpture of a fisherman sitting on the Naburn bridge – his wayward canine will make them snicker. Get Biking, a neighborhood non-profit that promotes inclusive biking, runs guided excursions of the route.
• Distance 12.8 miles return. Bike rent £18 a day grownup, £8baby, £40 specialist bikes together with Dutch field cycles and wheelchair tandems, from Get Cycling. Eat The community-run Brunswick Organic Nursery. Route astrocampus.york.ac.uk
Mawddach Path, Snowdonia
The scenic Mawddach Path from Dolgellau to Barmouth lies within the shadow of Cadair Idris, the best mountain in southern Snowdonia. However don’t be postpone: that is a simple, flat, coastal route, with no severe climbs. It follows the trail of the outdated Victorian railway, which used to ferry trendy holidaymakers to the resort of Barmouth. Children will love the quirky picket bridges and wetlands, that are wealthy in birdlife, together with siskins and long-tailed tits, together with an enormous number of butterflies and dragonflies. It’s additionally grass snake nation, which could possibly be a helpful reality to maintain in your again pocket for while you need them to pedal somewhat tougher.
• Distance 18 miles return. Bike rent £20 a day grownup, £10 baby, from Dolgellau Cycles. Eat The George III, round two miles from the top of your experience . Route sustrans.org.uk
Forest of Dean Household Path, Gloucestershire
This well-surfaced round loop follows the tracks of an outdated mining railway via the Cannop valley and deep into the type of gnarled historic oak forest that may make all the pieces on this planet appear proper. The route is well-signposted and huge sufficient for side-by-side biking in components, and whereas there’s some mild climbing in sections, a lot of the route is flattish, so it’s an incredible introductory household experience. Extra adventurous older youngsters will take pleasure in driving the mini-forest detours subsequent to the principle observe, and in the event that they nonetheless have energy of their legs on the finish, they’ll have a roll on the bumps and berms of the pump observe and even the blue-grade Verderer’s downhill mountain bike path.
• Distance 10.5 miles loop.Bike rent £19 a day grownup, £14 baby, from Pedal A Bike Away. Eat Mallards Cafe by the lake. Route pedalabikeaway.co.uk
Pink Squirrel Path, Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is likely one of the final UK strongholds for the crimson squirrel, which supplies this principally traffic-free path its title. Making an attempt to identify glimpses of crimson fur amid dense autumn woodland might be simply the distraction youngsters have to maintain pedalling on a experience. The total 32-mile route, a lot of it alongside disused railway tracks, begins in East Cowes – however there are many shorter choices and the gradient is pretty variety all through, with the odd hill to get dad and mom puffing, particularly if pulling youthful kids in a trailer or tagalong. The experience takes in great sandy seashores, sweeping estuaries, and forest which at occasions is so thick it feels such as you’re driving via a magical tree tunnel.
• Distance 32 miles, with choices of a 20-mile loop and five-mile routes. Bike rent £18 a day grownup, £10 baby, from Route Fifty 7. Eat Pedallers Cafe at Newchurch. Route redsquirreltrail.org.uk
Shepherd Path, Thetford Forest
The Shepherd Trail at High Lodge in Thetford Forest is a dream household route in a gorgeous woodland setting. Designated a inexperienced (newbie) path, the trail is quiet, comparatively flat, huge sufficient for cyclists to experience two abreast and brief sufficient to be manageable for even probably the most out-of-practice or novice cyclists. The floor is a mixture of forest tracks and gravel and is appropriate for many bike sorts, together with trailers and tagalongs. Children who’ve mastered the Shepherd Path will benefit from the rolling bumps and tight corners of the pump observe, whereas extra skilled riders can tackle the only observe that snakes via the bushes on the blue-graded Beater Path.
• Distance 5-mile loop. Bike rent £36 a day grownup, £29 baby, from Bike Art (e-book parking at High Lodge upfront, £12.50 a automobile). Eat The cafe at Excessive Lodge. Route forestryengland.uk
Leicester to King Lear’s Lake at Watermead Park
Wending its means from Leicester metropolis centre, this principally traffic-free experience follows the trail of the River Soar via Abbey park, previous the historic stays of town’s 12th-century abbey and the futuristic rocket tower of the National Space Centre (price a go to you probably have the power in your means again) earlier than reaching the character reserve at Watermead. The park was initially a sand and gravel pit, and when it was repurposed within the Nineteen Eighties the stays of a mammoth had been discovered, which impressed the Jurassic Play Path and sculpture, which can enchantment to youthful kids.
Watermead has two flat, brief and well-surfaced cycle loops amongst wildflower meadows, ponds, reed beds and splendidly plentiful wildlife. One stretch of the experience borders the Grand Union Canal, and far of it runs alongside the shore of the most important lake within the park, King Lear’s Lake, which is called after the legendary native king who impressed Shakespeare and is alleged to be buried in a chamber below the Soar.
• Distance 15.4 miles return. Bike rent £22.99 a day grownup, £9.99 baby, from Rutland Cycling. Eat The White Horse at Birstall, which backs on to Watermead Park. Route sustrans.org.uk
Swansea Bike Path
This sweeping coastal route tracks the shore from Swansea to Mumbles, the gateway to the Gower peninsula, with spectacular views throughout the bay to the lighthouse and, on a transparent day, the north coast of Devon. Operating alongside the road of the outdated Mumbles tramway, which carried the world’s first railway passengers, the bike path is asphalt, flat and traffic-free all through, so it’s an incredible alternative for households and new or lapsed cyclists. Journey highlights embody the Nationwide Waterfront Museum and the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea (the poet was born within the metropolis); youngsters may also love the pier and rocky swimming pools at Mumbles. The route might be prolonged by way of a woodland observe within the Clyne Valley nation park in direction of Gowerton.
• Distance 11.6 miles return. Bike rent £16 a day grownup, £14 baby, from Bikeability Wales. Eat The Junction cafe in Mumbles. Route sustrans.org.uk