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Pedal Paradise

5 Top Destinations to Experience on 2 Wheels

From the vast lakes and rolling hills of the north west to the fast flats of the south east, there’s no shortage of great cycle routes in Britain – and we’ve rounded up 5 of the best.

What do the Lake District, Peak District, Brecon Beacons, Scottish Borders and Box Hill have in common? They’re not just beautiful places to visit, but great destinations for cycling in. 

They’re all easy to get to by train, too, and more affordably with a Railcard.

If you’re keen on bringing your own 2-wheeler, check the train company’s specific policies for travelling with a bike, make sure there’s available space and book your tickets well in advance. You can get more information on our Train Travel with Bicycles page.

1. Lake District National Park

Sweeping valleys, sandy shores and mountain views that’ll stop you in your tracks, the Lake District, England’s largest National Park, has it all. 

Whether you head here to paddleboard in Windermere, eat pub grub by the fire in Ambleside or go camping in the Langdale Valley, a bicycle is sure to enhance your experience.  

There are plenty of places to pick up your ride, with bike hire spots in Hawkshead, Coniston, Penrith, Lowther, Langdale and Waterhead. And there’s a steed for every kind of rider, too, from feather-light mountain bikes to fat-wheeled ebikes.  

Once you’re safely in the saddle, head for the Honister Pass from Keswick to speed through the valleys for a couple of hours. Or, if you’re feeling really fit, take on the 3 climbs of Honister, Wrynose and the no-nonsense The Struggle. Clocking in at 86 miles, it’s most definitely one for the experts.  

Nearest stations: Oxenholme, Windermere  

2. Peak District National Park 

Whether you want to spend your days touring epic stately homes, sipping tea in quintessential English villages or gazing in wonder at endless greenery, the Peak District National Park has you covered.  

If you’re new to the saddle, take the Monsal Trail from Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale to Coombs Road in Bakewell. It’s 8 and a half miles long and nice and flat – perfect for beginners, young riders and even pros wanting a more laidback ride. 

That said, if you want to kick it up a notch, check out the Ashbourne Circuit, a 35-mile round trip that takes in the best of the Derbyshire countryside. Pack your tent and you can pitch up en route to split your cycle over a few days.  

To totally take your time, saddle up for the Pennine Cycleway between Derby and Berwick-upon-Tweed. Stretching over 350 miles, you’ll certainly need to rest your head for a night or 2 along the way.  

Nearest stations: Glossop, Buxton, Hope (Derbyshire)

 

3. Brecon Beacons (Bannau Brycheiniog)

The Bannau Brycheiniog National Park (or Brecon Beacons as it’s also called) feels like another world despite being just 4 hours from London.  

In just a day or 2 you can bike up mountains and through valleys, taking in local pubs, market towns, museums and literary epicentres as you pass (we’re looking at you, Hay-on-Wye).  

Base yourself in Brecon, Crickhowell or Talgarth and you’re never far from a cycle route or a map telling you how to join one. If you know what you’re doing, you can head into the mountains. If not, join a more beginner-friendly trail from Sennybridge or Talybont-on-Usk.

If you’re with the family or prefer the tarmac to the mountain trails, base yourself near the Glasfynydd Forest for a 6-mile, traffic-free ride around the reservoir. The encouragingly flat canal path from Brecon to Brynich Lock is great for beginners, too.  

Nearest stations: Abergavenny, Merthyr Tydfil 

 

4. Scottish Borders 

Head to the Scottish Borders for plenty of castles, rugged coastlines and rolling hill after rolling hill. If you’re a history buff, you’ll be right at home, as you don’t have to look far for relics of bygone industry, ancient spiritual sites and stunning stately homes.  

There’s plenty of variety in the region’s cycle routes, too. For quiet roads fit for the whole family, set off from Peebles. Here you can join 1 of 5 colour-coded routes that take in beautiful views of the River Tweed.  

For more majestic views and some speedy downhill runs, jump in the saddle in Selkirk. Set off from the east bank of the Ettrick Water for a mix of road rides and hilly adventures.  

Nearest stations: Tweedbank, Galashiels 

 
5. Box Hill 

Nestled neatly in Surrey’s North Downs, Box Hill is the perfect place to get back to nature. Head here to wander in vast woodlands, picnic beside the River Moll or go in search of the rare Adonis blue butterfly and other lesser-spotted wildlife.  

Take in the Old Fort while you’re here, too. One of 13 built in the 1890s to defend London, it still overlooks the city today.  

But while the countryside is Box Hill’s crowning glory, when you’re ready to ride, you need to hit the road. Long popular with keen cyclists, the Box Hill Loop gained global attention as the most testing section of the London 2012 road race event.  

With a 120 metre climb over 1.6 miles up the Zig Zag Road, you can test your mettle against Olympians. Though, of course, you may just want to soak up the panoramic views from the top.  

Nearest station: Box Hill & Westhumble 

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