The days may be short and cold but that’s giving us plenty of incentive and opportunity to plan lots of cycle rides for the warmer months – and we’ve got the perfect planning companion in Sustrans’ two new guidebooks.
The guides collate 150 circular day rides ranging from 20-40 miles using the National Cycle Network, quiet lanes and byways. Intended for intermediate to experienced cyclists, the routes range from easy to difficult and are divided into two handy ring-bound books – one covering the North of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland and another for the South of England, Midlands and Wales.
We’ve taken a few of our favourite rides from every corner of the UK as a taster of what’s available in the new collections:
1. Scotland - Loch Katrine Loop – 35 miles
An easily accessible ride from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Set against the beautiful backdrop of Loch Katrine and the Trossachs, the route passes by several picturesque lakes and winds its way through enchanting woodland. Start your day at the Loch Katrine Visitor Centre where parking and cycle hire is available and enjoy a day exploring the legend and history of the area. Why not consider beginning or ending your day of cycling with a cruise on the famed steamship Sir Walter Scott?
2. Northern Ireland – Coleraine to Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle – 36.9 miles
From Coleraine train station this longer day ride passes two of Northern Ireland’s most popular heritage sites – the Giant’s Causeway and Dunluce Castle - and follows the spectacular Causeway Coast. Traffic-free sections of the route includes a path along the heritage Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills Railway and a shared path with panoramic views between the seaside towns of Portrush and Portstewart.
3. England - Cromer & North Walsham – 27.3 miles
An undulating bike ride exploring the stunning landscape of the Norfolk Coastline. There are a number of possible starting points as the route passes close to several railway stations. On a sunny day it would be amiss not to stop at the coastal town of Cromer and visit the Grade II listed pier and sand and shingle beach. From this traditional Victorian seaside resort the circular ride then rises up into the grounds of the Felbrigg Hall estate, an elegant National Trust property and another worthy stop-off point. The remaining miles are spent meandering through rural villages and cycling across the tranquil landscape of East Anglia.
4. Wales – Abergavenny & the Three Castles – 35.4 miles
Starting your ride from the charming market town of Abergavenny, this route links together a triangle of impressive medieval castles built during the Norman conquest of Wales. Using primarily quiet country roads, there is plenty of history and heritage to explore and impressive scenery to cycle through. And after a few short and sharp climbs and descents you can celebrate at one of the many pubs or tea rooms along the route.
Are you feeling inspired to start planning your next adventure? Sustrans’ Circular Day Rides North and South books provide detailed maps, route profiles and text directions for every ride, plus a list of places to eat and drink along the route. GPX navigation files for each route are also available to download with the book.