Adventure Cycling & Cycle Touring

Cycle Touring in the UK | 5 of the Best Bike Routes

From a couple of days to a couple of weeks, the UK has many great cycle touring routes

Heading out on your first cycle touring adventure can be a daunting prospect. Luckily the UK hosts some fantastic routes for cycling that can be easily completed by beginners.

There are a wide range of sources online to help plan your tour, but this guide will give you five of the best. From a leisurely couple of days along the Thames Valley, to an epic 850 mile journey from John O’ Groats to Land’s End, there are routes to suit everyone’s needs and abilities.

Bicycle tourist with loaded bike riding on an empty road

If it’s your first time cycle touring and you’re in need new set of wheels, we have you covered with a selection of best touring bikes whether you’re looking for a high-end machine, or something more affordable.

Be prepared for some unexpected adventures as you discover the thrill of travel by two wheels. And remember to pack your rain jacket!

1) Thames Valley

Escape the capital by following the river Thames upstream. Photo: iStock

Start / End: London / Oxford
Distance: Approx. 100 miles
Difficulty: Easy
More info:

For an easy introduction to cycle touring the Thames Valley route from London to Oxford is a great way to start. The ride is roughly 100 miles, and can be split into two 50 mile days to ease you into the touring lifestyle. With relatively flat terrain, rolling through stunning English countryside, you will follow the river Thames upstream towards the university town of Oxford.

2) East Anglia

quiet country lanes and quaint villages are a common feature in East Anglia. Photo: iStock

Start / End: Fakenham / Harwich
Distance: Approx. 160 miles
Difficulty: Easy
More info:

Take in the rolling countryside with this easily manageable route through Norfolk and Suffolk. There are camping options everywhere, so make sure to pack your tent. Schedule in a few pub stops and this ride will be the perfect summer get away!

3) Sea to Sea Cycle Route

The Lake District hosts some rugged and steep climbs! Photo: iStock

Start / End: Whitehaven or Workington / Newcastle or Sunderland
Distance: 130-200 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
More info:

A great mid-level challenge that takes you between the Irish and North seas through the heart of northern England. Cycling either way between Workington and Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the route can easily be extended. Make sure you have some low gears for riding through the hilly Lake District!

4) Wales Top to Bottom

The Brecon Beacons are a must see especially from the saddle of a bike. Photo: iStock.

Start / End: Anglesey / Cardiff
Distance: 250 miles
Difficulty: Hard
More info:

Wales has some of the best landscapes in the UK and cycle touring in Wales is always a rewarding experience (providing the weather holds – which is not always guaranteed!) Riding from Cardiff to Holyhead is deceptively tough with plenty of climbing in store. Your reward is experiencing the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park on two wheels.

5) John O’ Groats to Lands End

Cycle the length of Britain for the ultimate cycle touring challenge. Photo: iStock

Start / End: John O’ Groats / Land’s End
Distance: 860 miles
Difficulty: Hard
More info:

The ultimate and most famous cycle touring route in the UK. John O’Groats to Land’s End lets you experience the length of Britain in the most unique way possible. Ride from the epic Scottish Highlands to the rugged moors of South West England. Arriving at Land’s End will give you a profound sense of achievement and a new perspective on Britain.

So where to next? Well why not venture further afield and check out some of the best cycle touring routes in Europe?

You may also like:

Cycle Touring in Europe | 5 of the Best Bike Routes

Best Gear for Bikepacking | The Ultimate Winter Kit Bag

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