Britain has many established long-distance cycle rides, in part thanks to the national cycle route charity Sustrans, a great resource for maps, books, information, route guidance and more. The Cyclists Touring Club is another charity that focuses on making cycling safe and welcoming for all. Here we have listed some of Britain’s best long-distance cycle rides supported by both organisations:
Scotland’s 750 mile route, out of the total 3,750 mile route that includes eight countries, includes some of Britain’s finest scenery in Eastern Scotland. Starting from Scrabster you visit Crask Inn, Tain, Inverness, Elgin, Portsoy, Ellon, Stonehaven, Carnoustie, Auchtermuchty, Edinburgh and Rosyth. Allow a fortnight for your trip if you wish to stop in Edinburgh for a few days.
Based in East Anglia, this 163 mile route is one of the flattest long-distance National Cycle Network routes in Britain. It touches some of the loveliest East Anglian scenery, including villages, cathedrals and country estates. This long-distance route takes you through the historic town of Norwich and ends up in the pretty seaside town of Harwich on the Essex coast. The shorter cycle rides, at 114 miles, takes you via Felixstowe, but uses 3 ferry crossings.
The North West Trail is another of Britain’s long-distance cycle routes, being a 326km circular cycle route through counties Donegal, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Leitrim, and Sligo in the North West of Ireland.
The most northerly of our top long-distance cycle rides in Britain is the Aberdeen to the Shetlands cycle route passing through wild mountains and along rugged coastlines via Banff, Inverness, Lairg, Tongue and Thurso. The 150 mile route between Aberdeen to Inverness also forms part of EuroVelo 1.
Starting in Kendal and making its way around the Cumbrian coast via Barrow-in-Furness and Whitehaven to South Shields, this 176 mile route makes its way around the Cumbrian coast via Barrow-in-Furness and Whitehaven to Silloth. From Silloth the route heads along the Solway Firth to Carlisle and across Northumberland to South Shields via Haltwhistle, roughly following Hadrian’s Wall.
Spanning the length of mainland Britain from the gorgeous beaches of Cornwall to the stunning countryside of northern Scotland. There is no official route for this most iconic of long-distance cycle rides. It is approximately 1,200 miles for the most direct route. In January 2017 Sustrans published its official guide to riding the route using the National Cycle Network. This guide details an 1173-mile signposted route that is traffic-free or on quiet roads.
Probably the greatest of all Welsh long-distance cycle rides, the route connects Holyhead and Anglesey to the Wye Valley in the heart of Wales using minor roads, railway paths, forestry tracks and ancient coach roads. There are some tough challenges as the route crosses the Snowdonia National Park and the range of the Cambrian Mountains. The southern section connects Llanidloes to the finishing points of Cardiff or Chepstow. This part of the route passes through Hay on Wye to Abergavenny and Chepstow via the Black Mountains, with mostly traffic-free trails between Brecon and Cardiff.
Covering 338 miles, this is the best possible of cycle rides to grasp the range of scenic pleasures available from Lands End in Cornwall and then Devon and Somerset. The 252-mile section from Padstow to Bristol and Bath includes Bodmin Moor, Exmoor and more.
Near Truro the Cornish Way splits with the southern option crossing the River Fal on the King Harry Ferry and taking in Mevagissey, St. Austell, The Eden Project and Bodmin where the route options rejoin. On the way to Bristol you cycle through Glastonbury, and Wells.
Oban to Campbeltown in Scotland is a 48 mile route on traffic-free paths, with a few sections on minor roads. Much of the path between Oban and Ballachulish is built along the former railway line which ran from Connel to the slate quarries near Ballachulish. The path has great views, hugging the coast for much of the way and has very few gradients.