Top 10 UK cycling destinations for this autumn

Riding into autumn
Don’t let a little chill in the air put you off riding your bike this autumn, with our selection of fantastic areas to explore on your bike for spectacular scenery and much, much more

The New Forest

Cycling through the New Forest with The Woods Cyclery. Photo: Tom Farrel

Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, a country road leading to a former mansion turned hotel, is a spectacular place to see both native and non-native trees as the summer gives way to autumn.

In addition to this classic sector, the rest of the New Forest offers fantastic autumnal riding as the many areas of deciduous woodland and patches of moorland turn to warm hues, with roaming ponies and donkeys turning your ride into an English safari.

There are many historic towns and villages to visit, each offering great places to refuel, though The Woods Cyclery in Lyndhurst is among the best for cycle-friendly pit stops.

The Sperrin Mountains

Tamnaght Road: A road pass over the Sperrin Mountains

While the Sperrins are a fantastic place to ride year round, they really come into their own in autumn, when the fiery reds, oranges, yellows dress the upland forests in a warm glow. There’s lots to explore here beyond the roads, with ancient stone circles, serene lakes and dramatic rock cliffs.

You can expect generally quiet roads here in inland Northern Ireland, though there’s plenty to test the legs with many climbs packed tightly together in this glacial landscape.

Pembrokeshire coastline

One of the many secluded coves on the Pembrokeshire coastline. Photo: Katherine Moore

One for the wildlife enthusiasts, head to the Pembrokeshire coastline this autumn where around 5,000 Atlantic grey seal pups are born each year. Follow the scenic Celtic Trail (National Cycle Route 4) for a ready-made route along the coastline from Fishguard to Tenby.

Why not finish off your ride with fish and chips? Which of course must be eaten out of the paper on one of Pembrokeshire’s glorious beaches, which are often much quieter at this time of year.

West Cornwall

If you enjoy breaking up your ride with a dip in the sea, then make the most of the higher sea temperatures in the autumn. Cornwall no doubt boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the UK for swimming, thanks to its 422-mile coastline.

Don’t expect an easy ride, though, as there are steep climbs aplenty in the county, though the views are often more than worth the effort. For some route inspiration, check out our West Kernow Way bikepacking route, and other off-road day rides in Cornwall.

Forest of Dean

Family Trail Forest of Dean

Boasting countless mountain biking trails from beginner to pro, as well as more tranquil forest gravel trails and country lanes, there’s something for everyone when it comes to cycling in the Forest of Dean.

Admire the changing colours as you explore the extensive trail network and enjoy some warming mid-ride drinks in one of the many great cafés, including those at Pedalabikeaway, Mallards Pike and Dean Forest Cycles.

Aberfoyle and Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park gravel tracks

Spending September, October and November in Scotland can offer some sublime riding, without the crowds or pesky midges. Pack extra layers and thermals, though, as it can quickly get colder further north.

To make the most of the changing leaves, head to forested areas such as the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Aberfoyle – comically referred to as ‘Gravelfoyle’ – makes for a great base for riding around here, with three new fully waymarked gravel cycling trails exploring the lochs, forests and moorland from the cycling-friendly village.

Richmond Park, London

Rutting red deer stags in RIchmond Park

If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the deer rut in Richmond Park, just a stone’s throw from central London. The red and fallow deer have lived here for the past 400 years, and the rutting season in autumn gives you a good chance to observe their behaviour – from a safe distance of course!

Besides the deer, Richmond Park is a much-loved breath of fresh air for London cyclists away from the busy streets, and the low light and golden leaves only add to its magic. There are plenty of cafés to stop and refuel; Colicci Roehampton Gate Café is particularly popular with cyclists and it’s right next to Parkcycle for bike hire.

North Norfolk coastline

Take in parts of our Rebellion Way bikepacking route on a day ride for the opportunity to meet some of the migratory birds that overwinter on Norfolk’s marshy coastline. From November onwards, grey seals start pupping too, so don’t forget the binoculars!

Regardless of whether you’re into wildlife or not, Norfolk generally offers drier weather and much flatter terrain compared to further west, so that may be preferable for easing into your shoulder season riding.

Shropshire Hills

View from the Stiperstones, Shropshire Hills

Cosy traditional pubs, ancient forests, captivating castles, rocky outcrops and expansive moorland; what’s not to love in the Shropshire Hills? You’ll find plenty of rides for both road riders, including the famed Burway hill climb, and mountain bikers, with XC aplenty on the Long Mynd.

Once you’re done, there’s no shortage of great hospitality and locally produced foods to help you warm up and relax.

Yorkshire Dales

Yorkshire Dales Cam High Road gravel track

Low, golden light turns the Dales into a photographer’s paradise, teamed up with the glowing hues of ancient oaks on the turn and swathes of caramelising bracken on the hillsides. While pretty darn steep in parts, the Yorkshire Dales offers some of the most beautiful road riding for miles around, passing old stone walls and characterful derelict barns no doubt home to sheltering wildlife.

If you’re looking to challenge yourself, check out the Oxnop Scar climb, Park Rash Pass, or for the mountain bikers, the ancient Roman Cam Hill High Road from Ribblehead Viaduct.