Tour de Britain: the best summer cycle trails
Six family-friendly cycle trails to try this summer
Be inspired by our list of safe cycle routes and take your family out on a Tour de Britain
Grabbing your bikes and a picnic (check out our five budget-friendly homemade picnic treats here) and cycling your way around picturesque spots is the perfect way to spend a sunny day with the family.
While traffic makes trips by road far from ideal with children and inexperienced cyclists, happily there are some brilliant off-road cycling routes all over the UK that are worth trying.
So we’ve rounded up six great routes across the country, as well as links to help you find more tracks near you, plus some essential safety tips.
On your marks, get set, go!
Six family-friendly cycle routes
Cornwall: Camel Trail
Mostly traffic free and popular with cyclists of all ages, this route goes between Padstow and Wenford Bridge, along an old railway path. It’s fairly level, which makes it great for kids, and there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting along the way. If you don’t have the stamina for the whole 18-mile route, you can just cycle between Padstow and Wadebridge (5.5 miles).
Distance: 18 miles
London: Parkland Walk
As the name suggests, this is a route you share with pedestrians but there’s space for everyone. A leafy, easy route that follows a former railway line, it often passes above the streets from Finsbury Park to Alexandra Palace (with a short break in its route between Highgate and Muswell Hill). There are plenty of cafes along the way to stop off for refreshment too, notably in Queen’s Wood.
Distance: 4.5 miles
West Yorkshire: Spen Valley Greenway
Follow this delightful, traffic-free green corridor with moorland views through Cleckheaton, Dewsbury and Heckmondwike, passing wildlife reserves and rolling golf courses along the way. You can also spot artworks including ‘Swaledale Sheep’ and ‘Rotate’ along the tarmacked disused railway path.
Distance: 7 miles
Wales: Three Parks Trail
Part of the wonderful Celtic Trail, this route between Sirhowy Valley Country Park and Taff Bargoed is all on tarmac and is traffic-free. It takes you through beautiful parks, over an amazing 16-arch listed viaduct and past outdoor artworks like ‘The Wheel of Drams’ and the ‘Sultan the Pit Pony’ earth sculpture. Much of the area used to be coal-mining country and now includes popular outdoor activity spaces.
Distance: 13 miles
Northern Ireland: Comber Greenway
This pathway out of East Belfast to Comber takes in plenty of wildlife-friendly habitat, so it’s a great route to pootle along with the kids on a sunny day. Look out for the statue dedicated to author CS Lewis and for the Enler River, which runs close to the Greenway.
Distance: 7 miles
Scotland: Bowling to the Falkirk Wheel
Along the Forth and Clyde Canal between Glasgow and Falkirk is easy-going flat terrain with contrasting views of striking industrial landscape and pretty countryside. Look out for the Falkirk Wheel – the world’s only rotating boat lift! It’s a long-distance option and there is a short on-road section in Glasgow, but you can join the route at stations further along the route if you prefer.
Explore some more cycling routes
With 14,000 miles of bike-friendly routes across the UK National Cycle Network, you’re sure to find a stretch close to home. Check out this interactive map to explore your local area.
Stay safe while cycling
There are few dangers when cycling in traffic-free areas, but it’s best to take precautions to avoid any bumps and scrapes and to be aware when you do come to a busier route. Follow these important safety tips before saddling up:
- Make sure your child is comfortable on their bike and it’s the right size for them, ensuring they can touch the floor with the balls of their feet when sitting on the saddle.
- Make sure they wear a helmet that fits them well.
- Cycle behind your children – or if there are two adults, position one in front and one behind.
- Teach your kids to use their bell to warn walkers they are approaching, and to slow down when passing people and animals.
Do you have a favourite cycle route? Let us know where you roam in the comments section below.