50 family-friendly cycle routes in the UK

Victoria Hazael's picture

50 family-friendly cycle routes in the UK

Cycling with young children is often easier and safer on traffic-free or very quiet routes. Cycling UK’s Victoria Hazael picks 50 cycling routes across the UK that are suitable for all the family. Most have a place to stop for food and drink


1. Dalby Forest in Yorkshire has the popular Ellerburn Trail, perfect for smaller children who can choose from a 1.7 mile route or a 2.8 mile route.
2. Liverpool Loopline is a great urban route that is 10.8 miles long. It is flat and is almost free from traffic. Do beware there is a small section along the A59.
3. Millennium Greenway is a seven-mile route along an old railway line from the city of Chester to the Wharf at Connah’s Quay.
4. Grizedale Forest is packed with lovely off-road routes. Goosey Foot Tarn Trail is a great place to start with little ones. It is two miles long.
5. Manifold Track is an eight-mile route in the Staffordshire Peak District.
6. Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. The family cycle trail at Beechenhurst is nine miles long and perfect for beginners who want to explore the forest.
7. Nutbrook Trail in Derbyshire is a 10-mile trail through Shipley County Park. Entry to the park is free, but there is a parking charge. There are also two play areas for children.
8. Rea Valley Route to Cannon Hill Park in Birmingham is a linear six-mile route through traffic-calmed streets and a canal towpath, running through Cannon Hill Park. The park is also home to the Midlands Art centre.
9. Forest Way in East Grinstead. This route passes through the village of Hatfield, the setting for A A Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. This 10-mile route is traffic free, and is part of the High Weald area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
10. The Phoenix Trail in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire is a 7.5-mile, flat, well-surfaced traffic-free ride between Princes Risborough and Thame.
11. Cuckoo Trail is an 11-mile route in East Sussex that used to be a railway line.
12. The Marriot’s Way in Norfolk is split into easy-to-manage sections for a short or longer ride.
13. Bristol and Bath Railway Path is 13.9 miles long, flat, traffic free, and uses the old railway line between Bristol and Bath.
14. The Camel Trail in Cornwall is a beautiful long trail – this is 18 miles of woodland and coastal trail. You can follow as much as you want: Padstow to Wadebridge is 5.5 miles, Wadebridge to Bodmin is 5.75 miles and Bodmin to Wenfordbridge is 6.25 miles. Largely traffic free.
15. Mote Park, Maidstone, is a 450-acre park with National Route 177 running through it – the park itself is traffic free and a great route for beginners.
16. Richmond Park, London. Richmond Park is the biggest enclosed park in London, where deer roam freely and where cycling is popular. There is also no traffic! Follow National Route 4 through the park, and if you follow further you find the London Wetland Centre, where there is plenty to do for kids.
17. Red Squirrel Trail is a 23-mile loop of flat cycling for the family: choose your route, however long you’d like. Although I have ridden it many times, I haven’t actually seen a Red Squirrel!
18. The Downs Link: this 36.5-mile route from Guildford to Shoreham by Sea is great for families as you can pick small sections. It is a popular route as it is accessible by train.

Northern Ireland

19. Castlewellen Forest Park is a simple smooth and flat trail that is 2.5 miles. Suitable for all ages.
20. Craigavon Lakes Mountain Bike trail is a quiet loop with lovely views.
21. Dungannon Park is a 1.6-mile long loop through the park.
22. Crom in Co Fermanagh. Cycle along while trying to spot Pine Martens and visit Crom Castle. It’s four miles long.
23. Castlerock to Downhill Forest is a coastal path, with a lovely forest. It’s just two miles so good for little ones.
24. Rathlin Island offers an adventurous day out, but if you want to see the wildlife reserves, they’re all at the end of the island. But there is next to no traffic and plenty of puffins.
25. Comber Greenway: eight miles, traffic free, relatively flat. Watch out, though, as there are junctions that cross roads.
26. Lagan and Lough Cycle Way connects Lisburn, Belfast and Newtownabbey. It’s 21 miles in total, but can be easily split up into family-friendly smaller sections. It is lovely to ride alongside the river Lagan.
27. ​​Ballycarton Wood is a route that is 2.4 miles of dusted forest road, beautiful views and a great beach view.
28. Antrim to Randalstown is five miles of beautiful track with plenty to look at – marinas, nature attractions and castle ruins.
29. Woodland Trail at Castle Ward has forest tracks and a 3.5-mile loop through woods.


30. Circuit of Great Cumbrae, a 13-mile route with lovely views of Bute.
31. Loch Ard Sculpture Trails – there are trails up to 16 miles and choices from two miles. Pick the trail that suits your family by looking at the map.
32. Loch Katrine: why not go for a steam boat ride and then a cycle ride? A great place for a family picnic too. The route is 13 miles long so suitable for older children.
33. Rothiemurchus Estate forest and loch route, Aviemore – six miles, children aged five and above. Start and finish at Bothy Bikes, hire and bike shop with maps available.
34. Laggan Wolftrax, mountain biking trail centre near Newtonmore. Three miles. The Green Trail is good for children eight plus or younger confident children.
35. 7stanes, Dalbeattie – Ironhash is a seven-mile green trail which is a good taster for teenagers who want to try mountain biking.
36. Ben Nevis, Fort William. Family cycling at Nevis Range. It’s a trail centre with plenty of cycle routes that are rideable with a trailer or tag-along.
37. Culbin Forest, near Inverness, has plenty of wildlife, views and trails to choose from.
38. Tentsmuir, south of Dundee. Follow the yellow path to Morton Lochs for three miles. Watch out for Red Squirrels and rest in the hides to watch some wildlife.
39. Isle of Mull has plenty to choose from. Fishnish and Garmony or Aros Park’s Coastal Trail are worth a visit.
40. Argyll Forest Park is Britain’s oldest Forest Park. Plenty of trails for all abilities.


41. Lon Eifion trail in Caernarfon is a 3.5-mile section of an old railway line with an amazing castle with Port Dinorwig (Y Felinheli).
42. The Three Parks Trail is an easy 13-mile traffic-free route that takes in three of Wales’s parks. Look out for a large sculpture Wheel of Drams. Ancient wild oak wood and park land. South Wales Valleys.
43. Swansea Bike Path is six-mile traffic-free route along the coast, with a view of Oystermouth Castle. Great views of the peninsula.
44. Clydach Gorge, west of Abergavenny, is an easy route with just one steep part. Tarmac and smooth going. Seven-mile route with views of Clydach Gorge, Skirrid Mountains and Brecon Beacons and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
45. Peregrine Path, straddling the border between Wales and England, is a beautiful ride, with plenty of places to stop and explore. It is mostly a traffic-free tarmac path. The full route is 7.5 miles.
46. Afan Valley route is between Port Talbot and the Afan Valley. Lots of wildlife and easy riding. Mixed surface, but also plenty to do all the way along the route, including the Afan Forest Park Visitors Centre and Mining Museum at the end. 
47. The Millennium Coastal Path starts at the Discovery Centre in Llanelli and follows a coastal path to Pembrey County Path. Flat and smooth, traffic-free, 4.5-mile linear route.
48. Mawddach Trail, has no climbs and no traffic. Discover the Mawddach Estuary below the foothills of Cadair Idris. It’s just under nine miles long.
49. Lon Las Cefni in Anglesey is13 miles of traffic-free cycle path that is perfect to enjoy with all the family and is rich in nature and wildlife.
50. Elan Valley: start at Cwmdeuddwr on the western side of Rhayader, where there is parking and a number of cafés, shops, pubs, a bike shop and toilets. It’s 18 miles long but easy to just do shorter sections.


Have we missed your favourite family-friendly cycling trail? Let us know in the comments section below.

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I also the Tissington, Monsal and High Peak Trails in the Peak District.  We've cycled these as a family and they are ideal and longer than most if not all of the onces listed for England. They are (mostly) pan-flat former railway lines with spectacular scenery and parking at each end and at various mid-points.