Great UK Destinations for Cycling Vacations and Holidays
North Wales in the UK, is a popular destination with holidaymakers from across the UK. With the Lonely Planet awarding it 4th place for Best in Travel 2017 – Top Regions, it is popular with hikers, mountaineers, cyclists and families – it’s a bit like a huge adventure play ground with stunning mountainous regions, beautiful unspoilt woodlands and beautiful beaches. Accommodation in the region is varied and affordable, with a number of travel operators specialising in cycling breaks and retreats.
A great location for both mountain bikers and road cyclists, the Wales Coastal Path is part of the National Cycle Network. The route is very scenic and mainly flat and traffic free, providing a safe environment for children and families, as well as more serious cyclists. Not many people complete the whole path, as it is an impressive 870 miles long – so although the terrain is relatively easy-going, the distance is not. If you stay in North Wales, the route from Talacre to Connah’s Quay is very popular, and takes around 1 hour each way to complete. Chester (North West England) to Connah’s Quay, also provides a traffic free, 8 mile railway path for cyclists and walkers alike.
For mountain bikers North Wales also provides a number of great routes. Coed Moel Famau provides a bit of everything, a number of walking routes, a play area and a mountain biking trail. This trail is suitable for all abilities, with a distance of 9 miles, the total ride takes around 2 hours, with a total ascent of 450m. You can see a video of a descent of the route here. Close to Snowdonia, Coed Y Brenin is the UK’s first dedicated mountain bike trail centre. There are a number of trails for all ability levels, including families and professionals. If you are closer to the Wales/England border, then Coed Llandegla provides a similar number and variety of dedicated mountain bike trails.
The Isle of Wight
The Isle of Wight is also referred to as “Bicycle Island”. The island boasts over 500 miles of cycle paths, surrounded with stunning scenery and sea views. To accommodate the locals’ and the tourists’ love of cycling, the island has recently added a number of new cycle paths, new bike-friendly buses, bike-hire facilities and bicycle parking areas.
One of the more popular cycling trails, is known as the “Red Squirrel Trail”. The trail is popular because of the tranquil woodlands and farmlands that encompass the journey it takes riders on, but also because the trail is mainly traffic free. There are also a number of cafes, restaurants and ice-cream shops dotted along the path, allowing people to take regular breaks, ideal for families. The trail is also mainly flat, making it an enjoyable for cyclists of all abilities and ages. It is recommended that you take 2 or 3 days to complete the trail, taking advantage of the beachside accommodation that is available.
As you might expect, the trail is named after the native Red Squirrel. Notoriously shy, the Isle of Wight is one of the few places in the UK to boast a dense population of the native squirrel, that thrive in the absence of the grey squirrel. If you’re lucky you will spot a red squirrel on the path, if you are even luckier, you may got to spot a dolphin whilst riding along the coastline.
For cyclists who love food, as well as bikes, there is the “Taste Round the Island Route”, giving cyclists and food lovers, the chance to stop off at a number of restaurants, pubs and cafes along the route. Alternatively, you could increase the pace, and attempt to do this 62 mile route in one day, rather than two or three.
Until 2016, the Isle of Wight did have an annual cycling festival. It is hoped the festival will be organised in 2017 by a private organisation so that the events & attractions such as the Triathlon, Cycle Cinema and “Cycle the Wight” can continue to attract bike lovers from around the country.
The Lake District
The Lake District National Park is a famous location for hikers and ramblers. The Lakes are also a great location for both road cyclists and mountain bikers. The forest of Whinlatter is the UK’s only mountain forest and features two mountain bike trails – the Altura Trail for serious bikers and the Quercus Trail which is classified as a ‘moderate’ route. The Altura Trail is 19km long and has been custom-built to challenge the skill and fitness of bikers. Along the route you will find a number of jumps, rock features, cork screws and berms. The Quercus Trail has a 7.5km path and a 3.5km option. This trial is suitable for bikers with a basic level of off road biking skills and a moderate level of fitness. You can view a video of the Quercus trail here.
Another challenging mountain bike route is the “Tour de Coniston”. Starting in Blawith, this route is 23 miles long, and takes you through both the stunning Walna Scar cycle path, combined with the Parkamoor Ride, creating a long, mountainous and very challenging ride. There is nowhere along the route, except the café at the start, to stop off or buy any type of refreshments, so ensure that you take some with you!