10 family-friendly cycling routes for summer

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Battle in East Sussex, one of the checkpoints on Cycling UK’s British Cycle Quest. Photo: Peter Cornish
If you’re looking for a way to keep the kids entertained this summer, a bike ride or even a cycling holiday could be the answer. Content officer Rebecca Armstrong identifies 10 great routes that you can cycle as a family

Summer is the best time to get out on bikes with the whole family. Long days, bright, sunny weather, and of course, six weeks of school holiday to fill.

Whether you’re looking for short day rides or a longer cycling holiday with the kids, there are great rides all over the UK. Here, we highlight 10 of the best.

1. Bristol and Bath Railway Path

Start/finish: Bristol/Bath
Length: 23km
Further info

Built on the disused Midland Railway line linking Bristol and Bath, the path starts and ends close to train stations in these two historic cities. It’s ideal for cycling and walking and has disabled access.

The 23km route is entirely traffic free and flat; the path is 3m wide and fully tarmacked. There are plenty of public toilets and places to eat and drink at both ends as well as en route. There’s also bike hire in both Bristol and Bath.

The path forms an important wildlife corridor, so keep an eye out for birds, wildflowers and mammals as you ride.

2. Marriott’s Way, Norfolk

Start/finish: Aylsham/Norwich
Length: 42km
Further info

Named for William Marriott, who was chief engineer and manager of the Midland and Great Northern Railway for 41 years, this off-road route follows two disused railways to link the historic market town of Aylsham with Norfolk’s county city.

The route is mostly flat and a mix of paved and unpaved terrain; it can get muddy, though, so summer is the best time to tackle it. The whole route could make a fun and relatively easy cycling holiday for the whole family as it passes through or close to several towns and villages to stay overnight or stop for a snack along the way. Or you could cycle a shorter section in a day.

There’s plenty to experience along the way, including a steam railway, a sculpture trail, bird life, wildflowers and a variety of butterflies and moths.

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The Tramway Trail at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire. Photo: National Trust/Steve Franklin

3. The Tramway Trail, Derbyshire

Start/finish: Calke Abbey
Length: 6km or 10km
GPX: none available, but you can pick up a map from Calke Explore
Further info

The National Trust-managed Calke Abbey has been preserved in ‘un-stately’ disrepair, demonstrating the decline of the English country manor. Set in the abbey’s grounds, this family-friendly figure-of-eight route follows part of an historic horse-drawn tramway. Families can choose to ride the whole 10km route or just one loop for a shorter 6km ride.

Explore the ancient parkland, passing through woodland, farmland and pasture, and then head to the café for a hearty lunch.

Adult and child cycle hire is available weekends, bank holidays and school holidays.

4. Port Talbot to Afan Forest Park, West Wales

Start/finish: Aberavon beach/Afan Forest Park visitor centre
Length: 11km
Further info

This family-friendly, largely traffic-free route starts at Aberavon beach, close to Port Talbot train station. It quickly joins a woodland path along the River Afan. The 11km route ends at Afan Forest Park visitor centre.

The visitor centre has toilets, showers, a children’s play area and a café. There are also several family-friendly trails if you wanted to extend your adventure. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll need to ride back to your start point.

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Enjoying the green route at Coed Llandegla

5. Coed Llandegla, Denbighshire

Start/finish: Oneplanet Adventure visitor centre
Length: various
GPX: none available
Further info

This forest in north Wales – close to Wrexham – is home to a network of mountain biking trails. The 5km green route was designed with families in mind. It avoids major climbs and technical sections, concentrating instead on providing all levels of rider with a fun excursion around the reservoir and through the forest.

For more advanced riders there’s the 12km blue route. This includes some steeper climbs, faster downhills and slightly more challenging features. Both routes end up back at the visitor centre, where you’ll find a café, toilets, bike hire and a shop.

6. Water of Leith Walkway, Edinburgh

Start/finish: Balerno/Port of Leith
Length: 19km
GPX: a detailed map and guide are available from the visitor centre
Further info

This walking and cycling route starts just outside Edinburgh near the high school in the village of Balerno, ending in the buzzing port district of Leith. It follows the Water of Leith. Completely traffic free, the terrain is a mix of paved path and dirt track.

The Water of Leith visitor centre is located at Slateford. Refreshments are available here and there’s a free exhibition. The route also passes the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, the Royal Botanic Gardens, a Victorian aqueduct and viaduct and artworks by Antony Gormley.

Look out for herons, kingfishers, dippers and ducks along the way, before ending in Leith, where you’ll find cafés, pubs and bistros to refuel after your ride.

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Balerno, the start of Edinburgh’s Water of Leith Walkway

7. Helix Around Town Trail, Falkirk

Start/finish: the Helix visitor centre
Length: 26km
Further info

This circular route – known as the HarTT route – starts and finishes at the visitor centre at the Helix, a 350-ha park between Falkirk and Grangemouth. It takes in the famous Kelpies, the Falkirk Wheel, the 14th century Callendar Park and House and a picturesque waterfall at Westquarter Glen.

There’s a café and toilets at the visitor centre and at several of the attractions en route.

Most of the route is flat, although there are a couple of steeper climbs. Much of it follows canal and riverside paths, traffic-free paths and forest tracks. However, there is a short section on the road and some shared paths alongside roads.

8. Lagan and Lough Cycle Way, Counties Down and Antrim

Start/finish: Jordanstown/Lisburn
Length: 33km
Further info

The route begins at Loughshore Park in Jordanstown, along the shore of Belfast Lough before heading into Belfast itself. The lough is an important area for a variety of waterbirds, including redshanks, oystercatchers and black-tailed godwits.

The cycle way follows the River Lagan towpath, through towns and villages, to finish at the Union Docks in Lisburn. It passes Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to the infamous ship, as well as Minnowburn Natural Trust, the historic Giant’s Ring archaeological site and several parks.

It’s mostly off road and level. Some sections are on shared paths along busier roads and there is some (mostly quiet) road riding.

Younger children may find the whole distance too much, but it can easily be shortened by riding sections or using trains. You could also stay overnight. There are plenty of eateries along the way.

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Northern Ireland’s Lagan and Lough Cycle Way

9. Claudy Country Park, Co Londonderry

Start/finish: Claudy Country Park
Length: 2km
GPX: none available, but not needed
Further info

Just outside the village of Claudy, the country park is the former grounds of Cumber House, a late 18th century country manor.

This short ride comprises well-maintained surfaced trails looping around the circumference of the park, taking in woodland and riverside paths. Check out the atmospheric ruins of Cumber Old Church. There’s also a car park, children’s play area and plenty of places to stop for a picnic. The Fat Fox Café is open Wednesday to Sunday.

10. British Cycle Quest, Great Britain and Isle of Man

Start/finish: various
Length: various
GPX: none available
Further info

This epic quest is ideal for families because it’s so versatile. It takes in 402 checkpoints across Great Britain and the Isle of Man, including the Scottish islands. The challenge is to collect all the checkpoints – but you can take as long as you like.

Simply choose which site you want to visit from the online map and then plan your route. The only rule is that you must arrive at the checkpoint by bike – you can travel as close as you need by car or public transport.

Plot routes suitable for children that start close to the checkpoint and take in toilet stops and places to eat. Or you could plan a cycling holiday taking in several locations, staying in B&Bs along the way.

Complete the challenge by visiting all 402 sites and answering a unique question. You can submit your answers in batches and you’ll receive your first certificate on submitting your first 10 questions – a great incentive for the kids! Answer all 402 questions and you’ll receive an engraved medal.

Join the Facebook group for advice and to share your own experiences.

Want to see more routes across the UK?

Cycling UK has been creating breath-taking long-distance cycle routes across the UK since 2018. Thousands of riders have taken to the countryside, enjoying the very best of the UK’s natural landscapes and historic landmarks.  

In 2025 and beyond, we want to develop more of these routes so you and generations to come can explore our spectacular landscapes by cycle, but we need your help.

Donate today to bring new, awe-inspiring cycling adventures to life.

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