Planning to head off with the family on your bikes this summer? You’re in the right place for inspiration. We’ve got challenging mountain bike trails, sedentary cycle routes and family friendly bike rides that will keep everyone happy.
1. Tissington Trail, Peak District, 13 miles – Perfect for catching the cycling bug
The Tissington Trail is a bridleway, footpath and bike route in Derbyshire, that runs along the former railway line connecting Ashbourne to Buxton. Mostly flat apart from one relatively steep incline near Mapleton, this cycle route is a good one for getting out and about as a family and getting some fresh air. Well surfaced and clearly signposted, the Tissington Trail runs from Ashbourne to Parsley Hay through picturesque Derbyshire countryside.
2. Cwmcarn Forest, Newport, South Wales – Perfect for thrill seekers
A mecca for cyclists in Wales and the south West, the mountain bike trails of Cwmcarn are renowned for their steep inclines and challenging descents. With lots of routes of varying lengths to choose from, experienced riders can spend a dayweaving through the trees as well as up on the open ridges of the popular Twrch Trail. For sheer adrenaline the Cwmcarn mountain bike trails can’t be beaten.
3. Cuckoo Trail, East Sussex, 12 miles – Perfect if you like a treat at the end
A mainly off-road cycle route and suitable for all ages and abilities, this is a great family friendly bike ride following the former ‘Cuckoo Line’ railway track that stretches from Heathfield to Eastbourne Park. The picturesque Cuckoo Trail passes through Horam, Hailsham and Polegate on a good surfaced path. And when you reach Eastbourne make sure you head to the seafront for a well-deserved ice cream or fish and chips lunch. And if you’ve had enough of the trail itself, East Sussex County Council offer this pdf: Off the Cuckoo Trail, providing six circular routes from the trail.
4. Windermere, Lake District, up to 9 miles –Perfect for families
Perfect for all ages, much of this route is traffic free or on extremely quiet roads and there’s even the excitement of catching the Windermere Bike Boat. Cross from Brockhole to Bark Barn and follow the lake shore cycle route enjoying the fabulous Lakeland scenery. And why not stop in at National Trust owned Wray Castle on the western shore to explore the exciting kid friendly activities and outdoor adventure play area? This is our favourite of the Lake District’s family friendly bike rides –but with three Hawkshead stores in the local area, we might just be a little biased.
5. Irvine to Ayr – The Ayrshire Cycle Way, 19 miles – Perfect for ocean lovers
The beautiful Ayrshire Cycle Way offers spectacular views over to the Isle of Arran as it passes along stretches of coastline between Irvine, Troon, Prestwick and Ayr. With added interest thanks to two wildlife reserves, Dundonald Castle and the Scottish Maritime Museum along this bike route, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. And if your legs are tired at the end you can always catch the train back to Irvine.
6. Coast to coast, Cumbria / County Durham, 136 miles – Perfect for long distance lovers
Whether you choose to do it in a day or take your time and stop for the night mid-country, this is one of Britain’s most popular long-distance cycle routes. Starting on the Cumbrian coast, crossing the Lake District followed by the Pennines, and then finishing off on the railway paths of County Durham, the Cumbrian coast to coast is memorable for all the right reasons. It’s worth noting though that Sustrans, who manage the National Cycle Network, recommends riding it from west to east because of the prevailing winds and more palatable gradients.
7. Gunnerside Gill, Yorkshire, 8.7 miles –Perfect for singletrack adrenaline junkies
Voted as one of Mountain Bike Riders 20 best single track mountain bike trails in the UK, what Gunnerside Gill lacks in length it makes up for in challenge. Park at Surrender Bridge, head up to Melbeck Moor then choose your route. Head up Gunnersdale Gill for a fast, smooth, enjoyable ride up a singletrack bridleway or if you’re feeling brave head straight out of Old Gang Mines for a more technical route down Bunton Hush onto Bunton Lead Level.
8. Taff Trail, Cardiff to Brecon, 55 miles – Perfect for day trippers
Start from Cardiff Bay and head up towards the beautiful Brecons on the Taff Trail. This is an off-road cycle route made up of forest paths, old railway lines and canals. Most popular ridden in the north to south direction to avoid the relentless 30-mile climb from Cardiff Bay, it’s worth the struggle up to the Talybont Reservoir, the highest point of the route for some of the best views in Wales. And because of the numerous towns and villages you’ll pass through, the Taff Trail can easily be broken up and ridden in smaller sections if you’re looking for family friendly bike rides in the area.
9. Rutland Water Lakeside Trail, Rutland, 25 miles – Perfect if you like a circular route
As can be expected from a lakeside trail, the bike route around Rutland Water is flat and largely easy going on well-maintained tarmac and gravel surfaces. This makes it just as enjoyable as a family friendly bike ride as it is for more experienced cyclists looking for a mid-length sprint.
10. Lanhydrock, Cornwall – Perfect for getting the kids on the trails
The mountain bike trails at beautiful Lanhydrockare just the ticket if you’re looking to introduce your kids to your favourite hobby. With a 1.5-mile green trail offering a short cycle route for beginner cyclists you can spend plenty of time helping the smaller ones to find their confidence. There are also four blue trails which are slightly harder with some small technical sections for when you feel they’re ready to progress. And there’s even a short red mountain bike trail if you can’t resist letting off a bit of steam yourself before it’s time to leave.