Some of the Best UK Cycle Routes

Green, cheap and great exercise, not to mention enormous fun, cycling in the UK is becoming ever more popular. London has launched its own cycle hire scheme and more of us than ever are exploring Britain by bike.

We’ve got hundreds of UK cycle routes to choose from but here are a few of our favourites.

UK cycle routes
UK cycle routes

Top UK cycle routes to explore

Most of these UK cycle routes are found in England, however there are still a few great bike routes in Wales and Northern Ireland!

Millennium Coastal Path, Llanelli, Wales

The Millennium Coastal Park is a 12-mile stretch of coastline on the Burry Estuary which features a purpose-built traffic-free path following the coastline along the park’s entire length. Previously an area of industrial wasteland, the park has been transformed into a tranquil green corridor offering superb views of the Gower Peninsula and a variety of attractions both natural and man-made.

Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland

For a unique cycling experience complete a circuit of Lough Neagh, the largest inland water in the UK and Ireland. The 113-mile, bi-directional Loughshore Trail (Route 94 of the National Cycle Network) is ideal for enthusiasts, novices and families alike. The route mainly follows quiet, country roads close to the lough’s shoreline and consists of mostly flat terrain – apart from a couple of short hilly sections which provide fantastic views over this huge expanse of water.

Limehouse to Little Venice, London, England

London’s network of canals make for great traffic-free cycling in the UK and a scoot from riverside Limehouse in the east to Little Venice along the Regent’s Canal is a great way to see London from a new perspective. Explore Limehouse, once the centre of London’s working docks and now home to upmarket flats and yachts, cruise through cool Camden and check out some of London Zoo’s inhabitants en route. At 8 miles it’s easily achievable in a few hours.

Richmond to Hampton Court, London, England

Wind your way along this photogenic section of the Thames from villagey Richmond to the glorious Tudor palace, Hampton Court. There are some great pubs along the way and even a sandy beach or two. For more information and other routes along the River Thames check out the Waterscape website.

Bristol and Bath Railway Path, West Country, England

Linking the twin West Country jewels of Bath and Bristol, this 13-mile stretch of disused railway track begins in the historic port of Bristol and passes via Mangotsfield, Warmley and Saltford before arriving in the heart of Bath.

Chocolate Tour, Birmingham, England

The crucible of the Industrial Revolution is famous for many things – canals, engineering, curries but most mouth-wateringly, chocolate. Cycle along the Rea Valley out from Birmingham city centre along the towpath of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. If you’re hungry take a detour to Cadbury World, the factory and interactive experience dedicated to the world’s best-loved chocolate.

Marin Trail, Conwy, Wales

This mountain bike trail in the UK is near Llanrwst and has big climbs, steep descents and truly awesome scenery. Long challenging climbs lead to miles of technical singletrack weaving through trees and boulders, across streams and down tricky gullies. Have a break for a moment to take in the views across Snowdonia National Park.

Taff Trail, Wales

The Taff Trail is a 55-mile trail (88km) that takes you south from Brecon to the waterfront of Cardiff Bay, exploring South Wales. You’ll go through a mix of towns and villages, and the path is suitable for most fitness levels.

The Taff Trail - Cycle Brecon to Cardiff
The Taff Trail – Cycle Brecon to Cardiff

Wastwater, Lake District, England

The 12-mile cycle from Wastwater to Santon Bridge via Gosforth is said to have the best view in the Lake District. Wastwater is the deepest lake in England and it’s surrounded by some glorious scenery including Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain.

Crab and Winkle Way, Kent, England

The Crab and Winkle Way links the cathedral city of Canterbury with the harbour in Whitstable. On the way you travel through Blean Woods, one of the largest areas of ancient broadleaved woodland in southern Britain, where you can find the rare heath fritillary butterfly. Don’t forget to pop into Canterbury’s magnificent cathedral, part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Cairngorms, Scotland

You’ll also find a few great UK cycle routes in Scotland. The uplands of Scotland are famed for their rugged beauty and these days, their excellent mountain biking terrain. Trails in the Cairngorms National Park are rarely waymarked – instead, bring a map (there are good mountain biking route maps available locally) and go and explore.

The Taff Trail – Cycle Brecon to Cardiff

If you’re looking to explore South Wales by bike, the Taff Trail is a 55-mile trail (88km) that takes you south from Brecon to the waterfront of Cardiff Bay.

Featuring a mix of urban and rural pathways, the trail passes through towns and villages that still display relics of their industrial heritage.

The Taff Trail - Cycle Brecon to Cardiff
Brecan in Wales

Who is the Taff Trail suitable for?

The trail is suitable for most levels of fitness, although it’s long so if you’re thinking of completing it in a single day, pack adequate snacks and water, a basic repair kit should your bike get damaged, wet weather gear if the Welsh weather takes a turn for the worse, and in case of emergency a mobile phone, some cash, and a credit or debit card.

The route of old tramways, railway lines, canals and towpaths mostly consists of off-road sections, but does feature short on-road sections, fire roads, and gravel and forest paths meaning you’ll need tyres with at least a little grip. Slicks won’t really do here especially if the trail areas are wet. As the Taff Trail is shared by walkers, cyclists and the occasional horse rider, a bell will also come in handy for making your presence known.

The Taff Trail route

The trail is well signposted for most of distance, but occasionally mischievous locals get their kicks by tampering with them, with hopes to send trail users in the wrong direction. If you’re in any doubt, this route guide has been produced by the charity Sustrans who also help to maintain sections of the trail and make it safer for cyclists. You can also buy the Taff Trail Guide: Fully illustrated and detailed route planner which includes a map – buy on Amazon.

The trail leaves Brecon, passing through Llanfrynach and Pencelli, then through The Brecon Beacons, Talybont reservoir, Torpantau, and Garwnant. This stretch is amongst some of the nicest scenery allowing you to take in the green and natural beauty of The Brecon Beacons. From Garwnant, it goes past Ponstsicill reservoir, Pontsarn, and the Cefn Coed viaduct before reaching Merthyr Tydfil. 

With the occasional pub, café and shop along the route, there are opportunities to stop, rest and grab a bite to eat. 

Leaving Merthyr Tydfil, the route passes Abercanaid and Pentrebach followed by Aberfan and Pontygwaith before reaching Quakers Yard, Abercynon, and Pontypridd. At this point the end is not too far away, but if you don’t feel like cycling the last stretch, train services run fairly frequently from Pontypridd, Trefforest and other stations along the line. Most trains will allow you to board along with your bike, but check for restrictions on certain days especially where there are events happening in Cardiff. At Pontypridd, make way to Penrhos and then to Taffs Well and Tongynlais where, if you’re feeling energetic, you may want to challenge yourself and cycle up the hill to the fairytale castle of Castell Coch nestled on the hillside. 

If you don’t fancy the hill ride, carry on toward Radyr and Cardiff making sure to look back along the way to catch a glimpse of Castell Coch. As you near Cardiff Bay, you’ll pass through Bute Park and view Cardiff castle and the Millennium Stadium before following the last stretches of the Taff River to the end of the trail where you’ll have a well-deserved rest. 

How long does it take to cycle the Taff Trail?

How long it takes you to cycle the Taff trail depends on how often you stop and your fitness level. The full 55-mile (88km) trail is easily accomplished in a day for someone of average fitness. Keep cyclists could probably do it in under four hours.

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