10 cycling routes for beginners in the UK

Enjoying the view from the banks of Rutland Water (photo credit: Discover Rutland)
Rutland Water
As part of Cycling UK's 140th Birthday celebrations we want to inspire everyone to give cycling a go, especially those who may not be all too confident on two wheels. This list of routes is especially for beginners or those returning to cycling – they’re on quieter roads and shorter in length, but still make a fantastic trip.

Portsmouth Harbour to Hayling Island

Cycling UK Vice President Josie Dew outlines this easy trip out from Portsmouth Harbour over to Hayling Island. Think everything the British seafront has to offer – fish and chips, fairgrounds and fun.

View the Portsmouth Harbour to Hayling Island route


Moravian Settlement and Manchester Velopark

The destination for this route is Manchester Velopark, with the tranquil Fairfield Moravian Settlement on the way. With much of the mileage of this route on NCN route 6, the Manchester Cycleway and canals, it’s flat, quiet and well-surfaced and suitable for any rider with any bike.

View the Moravian Settlement and Manchester Velopark route


Back o' Skiddaw loop

Don’t be disheartened – England’s highest summits of the Northern Fells can still be enjoyed by those new to cycling, thanks in part to the C2C cycle trail. As well as mountain views, this route offers beautiful, colossal lakes and perhaps even glimpses of some of the country’s most elusive wildlife, such as the red squirrel and the golden eagle.

View the Back o' Skiddaw route


Brockmoor CCC training route

Cycling UK’s Community Cycle Clubs are forever scoping out places where their less confident riders can go when they are learning to ride or returning to cycling after a break. This one is in the West Midlands and is one of Brockmoor’s Community Cycle Club’s favourites – on a canal pathway to a great pub.

View the Brockmoor CCC training route


London East End loop

Work in East London? This short stint is a great one for lunchtimes or after hours. It starts at London Cycling Campaign’s new home at Wapping Wall but can be picked up at many easily accessible points. It incorporates soon great spots of East London industrial history and finishes up in the popular Victoria Park.

View the London East End loop


Newcastle-Under-Lyme to Swynnerton

This 32-mile mix of gentle climbs and peaceful lanes begins in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, and winds over to Swynnerton. Expect fantastic viewpoints, pretty houses and fun descents as a rich reward for those manageable hills.

View the Newcastle-Under-Lyme to Swynnerton route


Norbury loop

South Shropshire may be hilly, but there are ways to spare your leg muscles and make your cycling experience more gentle. Liz Colebrook wrote up this route and rhapsodies about its suitability for beginners; she even chose it for the Cyclofemme ride, which is aimed at encouraging women and girls to feel confident on two wheels.

View the Norbury Loop


Edinburgh all-ability loop

This 4-mile route takes advantage of Edinburgh’s traffic-free cycle infrastructure on the north side of the city. It’s accessible to everyone – it’s used by Cycling UK’s inclusive cycling project, Edinburgh All-ability Bike Centre – and still boasts beautiful views across the sea and a range of pubs, cafes and fresh seafood restaurants.

View the Edinburgh all-ability loop


Rutland Water loop

Are we saving the best for last? England’s smallest county promises a slice of cycling heaven with this loop around Rutland Water. Directions are clear and precise, the path is flat and unspoilt by traffic, and there’s plenty of points of interest for shopping, photographs and picnics. It’s near-perfect for those new to a cycling day out.

View the Rutland Water loop

A Dorset Bimble

This Bimble (noun: a leisurely walk or journey) in north Dorset loops out from Gillingham Station and back. You can do the 30 miles at whatever speed you like; the route is mostly quiet lanes, taking in fields of pigs, an old mill pond perfect for a dip, and plenty of places to stop for beer and local produce.

View the Dorset Bimble route