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The wheelie big guide bike rides

Family cycling trip

As promised in our 2014 – Year of the Cycle blog, we’ve got a grip on some of the best bike routes in the country for you to pedal off to in homage this summer.

And we’ve focused on family bike rides, because naturally you’re hoping that repeated exposure to cycling will make your small person get the bike bug, become a professional cyclist in later years and support you in gin, books and possibly a small boat during your dotage. What a nice chain-ge that would be.

First up, a few tips for cycling with kids and how to find the best cycling routes in the UK:

Sustrans also has quite the handle on where to cycle with kids, including links to the National Cycle Network’s 14,000 or so miles, coastal rides for kids and traffic-free family rides.

  • Britain’s 15 national parks have bike routes snaking all over the show to keep you pumped up: the main national parks page lists its top 15 national park routes and links to more info on each:

Don't forget the dog Cycling in Cairngorms National Park

Cycling in Dartmoor National Park

Cycling in Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park

Cycling in the Peak District National Park and family trails

Cycling in the New Forest National Park

Cycling in Exmoor National Park

Cycling in the North York Moors National Park

Cycling in the South Downs National Park

Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales National Park

Cycling in Northumberland National Park

Cycling in the Lake District National Park

Cycling in Snowdonia National Park

Cycling in the Brecon Beacons National Park

  • Check the trusty National Trust for a bespoke list of family bike rides around its properties, including the Blickling Estate in Norfolk, Wimpole Estate in Cambridgeshire, Boxhill in Surrey, Dorset’s Studland Peninsula and the national nature reserve of Malham Tarn in North Yorkshire.

See also

Lets Ride: search for bike rides by level, age group, duration, distance and pace

Family bike holidays and routes in Wales

Bike hire on the Camel Trail. Pic © Roy Parkhouse. Family bike rides from the British Heart Foundation

Easy Peasy Pedalling on the Isle of Wight

Five of the best family bike routes

Camel Trail, Cornwall

Eighteen miles of mostly traffic free cycling in Cornwall along an old railway track and the Camel Estuary, from Padstow to Wenford Bridge via Wadebridge and Bodmin (the only part of the trail passing through traffic is in Wadebridge).

The path passes the Victorian estate of Lanhydrock, the National Lobster Hatchery and Visitor Centre in Padstow, Camel Valley Vineyard and cafés along the way for pasties and ice creams.

You can still do the trail even with toddlers: this is a popular family route and several of the local bike shops will have bike buggies and trailers.

Campsites in Padstow

Campsites in Bodmin

Campsites in Wadebridge

Campsites in Cornwall

Campsites in Cornwall with cycle hire

Campsites in Cornwall with cycle hire nearby

See also the Cornwall Clay Trails and, next door, the Tarka Trail in Devon

The Start of the Strawberry Line. Pic © Chris McAuley. Strawberry Line, Somerset

A sweet little nine-mile traffic free trail from Yatton to Cheddar along the lines of the old strawberry routes carrying Somerset berries to London.

The line passes the cider orchards of Yatton and goes through wooded valleys and past Thatchers Cider Shop, the Mendip Hills and King John's Hunting Lodge at Axbridge to end up at Cheddar Gorge.

Like the Camel Trail, the Strawberry Line is also used by walkers and joggers, so best not to pretend you’re Speedy Gonzales and fly around corners at inappropriate-mph.

Campsites in Somerset

Campsites in Somerset with cycle hire

Campsites in Somerset with cycle hire nearby

Pontypool to Blaenavon, Monmouthshire

Combine a bike ride with a trip down t'pit, following another disused railway line to the Blaenavon World Heritage Site and the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Monmouthshire.

The seven-mile ride is again traffic free and goes from Pontymoel Canal Basin to Garn Lakes through woodland and on tarmac/gravel, with a pit stop at Pontmiole’s barge café and views over Afon Llwyd valley that will leave you chuffed.

Campsites in Monmouthshire

Campsites in South Wales

Blaenavon's Heritage Railway from Garn Lakes. Pic © Robin Drayton. Campsites in South Wales with cycle hire

Campsites in South Wales with cycle hire nearby

Old Logging Way, Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms is the UK’s biggest national park (twice the size of the Lake District), but we’ve reserved our teeniest ride for it, an easy 3.5 miles along an old forestry route between Aviemore and Glenmore.

The route is traffic free and goes along lochs, through forests and through the Rothiemurchus Estate with views of the Cairngorms from over the handlebars.

This route is also used by walkers and runners, so buy a shiny new bell and ring it with enthusiasm when going round corners.

Campsites in the Scottish Highlands

Campsites in Scotland

Campsites in Scotland with cycle hire

Campsites in Scotland with cycle hire nearby

Tissington Trail, Derbyshire

The start of the Tissington Trail. Pic © Oliver Dixon. Peak District cycling from Ashbourne along 13 miles of the former Ashbourne to Buxton railway track and past the villages of Tissington, Alsop and Hartington to finish off at the High Peak Trail near Parsley Hay. Bike hire is available at both ends.

The Tissington Trail is traffic free and passes several Peak District highlights including seventeenth century Tissington Hall and – tastily – The Old Cheese Shop in Hartington. Car parks, picnic tables and public toilets are also along the way.

Campsites in Derbyshire

Campsites in Derbyshire with cycle hire on site

Campsites in Derbyshire with cycle hire nearby

Final, Very Important, tip

Please remember that Lycra is not essential.