What are the best cycle routes for families?
Have you ever decided to go on a bike ride with your little ones and suddenly you hear the words, I can't carry on i'm tired. This was exactly what I heard every time I tried to go on a bike ride with Charlie a few years ago. I soon realised, unless I wanted to push two bikes for the rest of the cycle route I needed to change things. Charlie loves riding his bike but when it came to hills... well let's just say I dreaded them too. So how did I get Charlie from complaining on every bike ride to riding the top bike trails for families in the U.K. some over 10 miles!
You want to start off small. Think of somewhere flat and that has a long cycle concrete path. This is the perfect beginner stage.
An example of this is Virginia waters in Northern Surrey. Lots of routes to choose from and perfect wide concrete paths for children to practice on.
Now your child has got use to cycling together as a family and coming across obstacles. You now want to move them on to cycling on a harder surface, such as: the woodland floor or a gravely, stoney path. This will help to build up their resilience on tougher routes in the future.
Places like Alice Holt or Bracknell Forest The Look Out are perfect for child friendly cycle routes (Surrey). At these types of places they have a number of routes to choose from depending on difficulty so you can really set them challenges.
Once you feel confident that you child is able to do harder cycle routes, here are some family, fun cycle routes to tackle in the UK.....
1. Camel Trail Runs
This is one of the most popular recreational routes in England, the Camel Trail runs from Padstow to Wenford Bridge, via Wadebridge and Bodmin.
The trail passes through the wooded countryside of the upper Camel Valley and alongside the picturesque Camel Estuary.
The largely traffic-free trail follows the route of an old railway line once used by the London and South West Railway.
It’s ideal for family cycling as its fairly level all the way and the views of moorland, woodland and estuary are spectacular.
2. Bristol and Bath Railway Path
The immensely popular Bristol and Bath Railway Path provides a mainly tranquil cycling path between the two cities.
Its 13 miles are completely traffic-free and almost entirely flat as it runs along a disused railway line.
The Bristol and Bath Path is ideal for a leisurely day out with family.
You can cycle both ways, or if you’re feeling tired you can easily take the train as both Bath and Bristol have stations close to the start of the path.
Along the route, you'll find ideal stopping points for drinks and snacks at Bitton and Warmley Stations, or you could enjoy a pub lunch at Saltford.
The path also features a variety of sculptures (including a drinking giant) and working steam engines at the old train station at Bitton.
3. The Tarka Trail in North Devon
The Tarka Trail has loads of routes to choose from with over 30 miles of cycle routes to explore. One route in-particular is a favourite for the family the Barnstaple to Bideford route, which is around 9 miles. With a flat easy trail all the way you’ll also cycle past some beautiful North Devon coastline. There are plenty of places of interest along the way such as the remains of the railway track that used to run along the same route as the Tarka Trail.
4. The Strawberry Line in Somerset
The Strawberry Line is mainly traffic-free, with no steep gradients and only 9 miles long, making it perfect for a family day out. As you cycle along this route you’ll experience the beauty and variety of Somerset as you pass cider apple orchards, steep wooded valleys and the spectacular Cheddar Gorge. While on this route why not make a pit stop at Cheddar Gorge and enjoy some mid-day lunch.
5. The Cuckoo Trail in Sussex
The Cuckoo Trail is previously an old railway line up to 11 miles of tarmac and gravel surface. It is one of the most popular family routes in the South East, completely traffic-free and great for wildlife spotters. The trail forms part of the National Cycle Network - Route 21 and passes by Horam, Hailsham and Polegate.
6. The Lon Eifion Trail in North Wales
You will begin Lon Eifion Trail at the stunning Caernarfon Castle. This route is 12.5 miles and follows the Welsh Highland Railway route, while on this route you will come across views of Caernarfon Bay and Snowdonia. Completely traffic-free and with the castle to start your journey this makes a wonderful family route. But beware there are some hills so be prepared.
7. Castlewellan in Northern Island
Just minutes from the village of Castlewellan lies one of Northern Ireland’s most famous lakes with panoramic views and a Victorian castle. There are mountain bike trails for all abilities, from family-friendly green and blue to intense adrenalin-pumping red and black routes.
Top tip: If the route is not circular then whatever you decide to cycle you will need to cycle back. However, if you have a look for bus routes before you go, you might be able to take the bus back.