The wheelie big Pitchup.com guide to...family bike rides
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:
- See cycling charity Sustrans for tips on cycling with kids , including hitching a toddler to your bike , buying a kid’s bike and kit , cycling safety for children and how to teach your child to ride a bike, which we hope has moved on from when we were youngsters and were shoved off down the road with nary a stabiliser in sight. (We were also taught to swim by being thrown into the deep end of a pool. Ah, the 80s.)
- 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:
- 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.
- If the youngsters really do see themselves as the next lycra-clad wonders, log on to British Cycling’s Go-Ride Racing for details of competitive cycling events for under 16s. Its holiday coaching programmes cover all six forms of cycling – road, BMX, track, cycle-speedway, cyclo-cross and mountain bike – and the site also has info on general coaching, cycling clubs (filter for under-16s on the left) and cycling events.
Lets Ride: search for bike rides by level, age group, duration, distance and pace
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 Cornwall
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.
Pontypool to Blaenavon, 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.
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.
Tissington Trail, Derbyshire
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.
Final, Very Important, tip
Please remember that Lycra is not essential.