21 cycling routes to do in 2021

21 cycling routes to do in 2021

To celebrate the start of 2021, we’ve listed 21 of our favourite routes from across the UK. Suitable for all abilities, each route has an interactive map and GPX file, we hope it inspires you to go on an amazing cycle ride this year

*This article was published prior to current lockdown restrictions. We're advising people to follow the guidance on exercising in our Q&A article*

Grand adventures

1.  Cape Wrath

Length: 23.80 miles
Level of ride: Beginner
Type of bike: Any though mountain bike preferable

For 70 years, Cycling UK’s Cape Wrath Fellowship has put cyclists to the test. Located in Sutherland in the Highlands of Scotland, Cape Wrath is the most northwestern point of the UK. This rugged, windswept headland is renown for its natural beauty and challenging coastal path. Let us know if you cycle to the lighthouse and your name will be added to the Cape Wrath Fellowship.

2.  Great North Trail

Length: 825 miles
Level of ride: Experienced
Type of bike: Mountain bike

A long-distance off-road trail from the Peak District to Cape Wrath or John o’ Groats. Explore the huge variety packed into Scotland and northern England: from rolling hills and dales, to remote windswept moorland, crumbling castles to hidden waterfalls, from swooping singletrack to old Roman roads and everything in between.

3.  North Downs Way

Length: 150 miles
Level of ride: Regular
Type of bike: Mountain/Gravel bike

Cycling UK's Riders' Route for the North Downs Way is a largely off-road route which will take you from Farnham in Surrey to Dover in Kent. Take on the ride in one go as a bikepacking adventure, or alternatively Cycling UK has broken the journey down into three roughly 50 mile stages. Each section has a railway station at both the beginning and end that is serviced with direct trains to London.

4.  Lands End to John o’ Groats

Length: 971 miles
Level of ride: Experienced
Type of bike: Road bike

Cycling from Land's End to John o' Groats is also known as doing the LEJOG  or the 'end to end' is Cycling UK's most iconic route. We have been helping people ride the entire length of the UK for many decades. This route does not seek out a quieter, more scenic route but is aimed primarily at those wanting to do the route relatively quickly. If you're looking for more scenic, leisurely options get the End-to-end pack.

Family rides

5.  The Peregrine Path 

Length: 5.50 miles
Level of ride: Beginner
Type of bike: Any

The Forest of Dean is a fairytale setting for a gentle ride into Wales through the steeply wooded Wye Valley, bookended by the famous viewpoints of Symonds Yat Rock and the Kymin.

The ride that straddles the Wales/England border follows the River Wye from the historic market town of Monmouth in south east Wales, to Goodrich in Herefordshire.

6.  The New Forest

Length: 24 miles
Level of ride: Beginner 
Type of bike: Any

The New Forest is a great place to take the family for a ride out on the bikes. Many gravel paths have been designated as cycle routes and there are also some quiet lanes. This route takes advantage of these, giving you the opportunity to enjoy some traffic-free riding.

7.  Rutland Water 

Length: 25 miles
Level of ride: Beginner 
Type of bike: Any

Imagine a cycle ride that is almost pan-flat, on mostly traffic-free paths, around a beautiful reservoir, with cafés, pubs and bike shops galore, where it's almost impossible to get lost. Sounds like cycling heaven, right? Well Rutland Water, in England's smallest county, Rutland, is that nirvana.

8.  Scrabo Tower to Strangford Lough

Length: 30 miles
Level of ride: Beginner 
Type of bike: Any

Northern Ireland has some of the most scenic cycling routes in the UK and this loop from smart bike light innovators See.Sense shows off a real gem. Strangford Lough is managed by the National Trust and is a haven for marine life and flowers. With the route being flat, it means that it is suitable for all abilities of cyclists who want to pedal along and take in the views. 

Historic rides

9.    King Alfred’s Way 

Length: 220 miles
Level of ride: Experienced
Type of bike: Mountain/Gravel bike

Immerse yourself in 10,000 years of history by riding this 350km loop around historic Wessex, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Alfred the Great.

King Alfred's Way starts and ends in Winchester where Alfred is buried, and connects iconic monuments including Stonehenge, Avebury stone circle, Iron Age hill forts, Farnham Castle, and Winchester and Salisbury Cathedrals.

10.  Hadrian’s Wall 

Length: 174 miles
Level of ride: Regular
Type of bike: Road bike

History enthusiasts will love this route, though there is something for everyone.

The route is easy and signposted, following the Hadrian’s Cycleway, National Cycle Route no.72, from Arbeia Roman fort and Museum at South Shields to the Roman bath house at Ravenglass. The city centre of Newcastle gives way to rolling hills by Hadrian’s Wall itself, and on to the flat, coastal views from Cumbria towards the Isle of Man and Scotland.

11.  Sherlock Holmes ride 

Length: 65 miles
Level of ride: Experienced
Type of bike: Road bike

This southern counties ride takes in some of the settings for Sherlock Holmes adventures and visits the homes of Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle.

12.  The Pedaller

Length: 20 miles
Level of ride: Regular
Type of bike: Any

A ride between the Italianate holiday village of Portmeirion — the filming location of the cult 1960s TV show ‘The Prisoner’ — and mountain biking mecca Coed y Brenin.

Scenic rides

13.  Western shore of Windermere

Length: Nine miles
Level of ride: Beginner
Type of bike: Mountain bike

This route on the edge of the beautiful lake Windermere in the Lake District is great for all ages. There are 3 miles of traffic free cycle paths and a further couple of miles of very quiet roads south of Wray Castle on the western side of Windermere.

14.  Wild Wales Challenge Ride

Length: 87 miles
Level of ride: Experienced
Type of bike: Road bike

Set among the spectacular scenery of the Welsh mountains, this is a demanding ride but any reasonably fit rider should experience no difficulty in completing the course. Expect both steep climbs and descents, stunning views and little other traffic riding on the edge of Snowdonia National Park and the beautiful Dyfi Forest.

15.  Callander loop 

Length: 78 miles
Level of ride: Experienced
Type of bike: Mountain bike

This route, with 6000ft of ascent, uses all types of surfaces and can be split over two days to make a great bikepacking route. The route heads north along Sustrans National Cycle Network route 7 with great views of Ben Ledi rising above your head, later taking the old Glen Ogle railway line, along the shores of Loch Tay and taking in the sights of the imposing Ben Vorlich.

Day rides

16.  Mourne Loop

Length: 45 miles
Level of ride: Experienced
Type of bike: Road bike

This route is found in the south east corner of Northern Ireland and is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It's a real playground for cyclists with its stunning coastal roads, many different climbs and several purpose built off-road trail centres in forest parks. Thankfully this route circumnavigates the mountains with a flat first half, climbing in the middle before a long descent to finish.

17.  Pedal the Park

Length: 62 miles
Level of ride: Experienced
Type of bike: Road bike

The Pedal the Park route takes in 100km of the boundary of Scotland’s largest Regional Park, Clyde Muirshiel. Spend a full day out completing this ride and lunch at the bustling seaside town of Largs with plenty of food and ice cream options.

18.  ‘Enid Blyton’ loop

Length: 32 miles
Level of ride: Regular
Type of bike: Any

Cycle this loop of Poole Harbour, the inspiration for the ‘Famous Five’ stories of Enid Blyton. The route starts at Knoll House — a favourite holidaying spot for Enid. Then hop on the ferry from Poole Quay to visit Brownsea Island and be sure to stop at ‘The Ginger Pop Shop’ where you’ll find all sorts of old toys, and games, and almost all the books Enid Blyton has ever written.

City rides

19.  Edinburgh all-ability loop

Length: Four miles
Level of ride: Beginnner
Type of bike: Any

This four-mile route uses the traffic-free cycle infrastructure on the north side of Edinburgh to allow people riding any type of cycle, from solo bikes through to side-by-side trikes and wheelchair transporters to get out and explore the area by bike.

20.  London East End loop

Length: 10 miles
Level of ride: Beginnner
Type of bike: Any

The London Cycling Campaign reveals one of its favourite lunchtime rides, using routes alongside the capital’s canals to take in everything from historic industry to modern day hi-tech sport.

21.  Cardiff - tour de Penarth and Dyffryn 

Length: 27 miles
Level of ride: Regular
Type of bike: Any

This is a favourite Cardiff CTC cafe ride of 27 miles with 1300ft of climbing. A packed scenic journey around the outskirts of Cardiff and Penarth; landmarks include the Taff Trail, the Principality (Millennium) Stadium, Wales Millennium Centre, National Assembly for Wales, Norwegian Church and Cardiff Bay Barrage.

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This remains true during this difficult period with the ongoing threat of coronavirus Covid-19