Bike your way around Britain in the colder months, there’s still so much to discover. From easy eight milers to trickier mountain climbs, there’s a cycling route to suit everyone. One thing is guaranteed, they’re all in stunning landscapes.
Whitby to Scarborough
If you want fantastic views of rugged Northern coastlines, then the Cinder Track is the perfect place to peddle as it winds its way through the North York Moors National Park. It’s a picturesque coastal route that runs along the track of the old railway line from Whitby to Scarborough. There are some fantastic tea shops en-route at Ravenscar and Cloughton to warm up with a hot drink. The track is easy to navigate with plenty of signposts. Look out for lots of wildlife on the way, and enjoy the different scenery because you’ll encounter forests, fields, rivers, the sea and even a waterfall at Hayburn Wyke. Stop off at quiet bays such as Crook Ness, Stoupe Beck Sands or Maw Wyke Hole. There are plenty of places to sit and admire the surroundings if you fancy packing a flask and some sarnies.
The best thing about this track is if you can’t make it all the way to Scarborough, there are lots of great destinations to stop along the way. Littler legs could manage to power on through to Robin Hood’s Bay (approximately 6 miles) before stopping to refuel on fish and chips for the much easier downward return journey. Highly recommended for a brilliant day out, especially on a crisp winter morning.
No need to wait for Rudolph the reindeer to put in an appearance when you can cycle around the spectacular Richmond Park in London amid beautiful grazing deer. There are numerous tarmac paths in the park that are family-friendly for bike riding. One recommended by Richmond Park’s official website starts at Pembroke Lodge where there are great facilities such as public toilets, a café and a visitor centre, from here you can take in the view of St Paul’s Cathedral from King Henry’s Mound. Cycle down the main Tamsin Trail where you can even see the North Downs in the distance. Pass the Isabella Plantation (definitely worth hopping off for a tree-climbing stop) before heading back to complete your route – watch out for kite flyers and herds of deer. Peddle up the hill towards Richmond Ballet School (which was featured in the film Billy Elliot) then at Sheen Gate re-join the Tamsin Trail and finish back at the café. Grab a hot chocolate loaded with cream and marshmallows as your reward.
Stay at one of our London hostels
As Wales’s largest holiday resort, Llandudno with its wide promenade is a great place to experience in the quieter, less touristy months. The cycle route we recommend begins in the seaside town of Llandudno and is full of contrasts taking in the Great Orme. Rising 207m out of the sea, Great Orme is a mini-mountain to residents, and for bike riders is a steady climb up the limestone cliffs. Highlights of this route include the views halfway round when you come to the top of a long climb – Puffin Island, Anglesey, Snowdonia and the Conwy estuary all suddenly swing into sight. A brilliant ride along the wild coast of dramatic limestone cliffs.
Stay at YHA Conwy
Is there any better place to be in the autumn/winter months than a frosty forest? Within this National Park there are so many great flat cycling routes. The New Forest, which was originally preserved as a royal hunting ground by William the Conqueror almost 1,000 years ago, is full of ancient ornamental and native trees which explode into vast array of reds, rusty browns and oranges in the autumn months. A great 7 miler is the cycle from Burley (handily where our hostel is based) to Brokenhurst village, along quiet lanes tailor-made for those on two wheels. On this cycle route you have every opportunity to get close to the wildlife, you could encounter ponies, donkeys, pigs and deer meandering across your trail. Enchanting.
Stay at YHA New Forest
The Lakes is the perfect cycling destination, whatever the weather. There are so many routes to choose from but why not try starting in the market town of Keswick and doing the challenging Skiddaw Loop. It passes through the stunning autumn scenery of the National Park. A cycling club called ‘The Rough Stuff Fellowship’ record, following this route in the 1920s on their trusty touring bikes. The ride circles the Skiddaw massif, formed by the eruptions of ancient volcanoes which dominate the surrounding area, and explores some of the more rugged corners of the Northern Fells offering a wonderful wilderness flavour. When back in the town, fill up on the infamous Cumberland sausage or it’s the perfect time of year to sample the local dish – tattie hot pot.
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Carsington Water is a manageable eight-mile cycle ride circling the reservoir that lies between Ashbourne, the gateway to the Peaks and the village of Cromford which looks like it’s straight out of a period drama with rows of terraces, antique shops, a book shop and large old cotton mill. You can hire bikes from the water-sports centre before heading towards the dam head with its wide-reaching views over the expanse of water. The path passes through a range of wildlife habitats from ancient hedgerows, species-rich wild meadows and native woodlands. There are also ponds and reedbeds that contain little islands. Stop off at one of the bird hides, where in autumn you can watch out for flocks of floppy-winged lapwings flying overhead and little grebes on the reservoir. Whilst in the area try out another unused railway track, the Manifold Track which climbs through nine miles of stunning scenery to the village of Hartington, where our hostel is based.
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Photo credit: ken fagan/EyeEm / Stephen / Stephen / Philip / meandering emu / david Rawcliffe / birdman77 / Adobe Stock