Adventure Cycling & Cycle Touring

Long-Distance Cycling Routes In The UK | 6 of the Best

When it comes to long-distance cycling routes in the UK, there's quite a lot of choice. To help you make a decision, we're shining a spotlight on some of our favourites

Cycle touring does not have to involve travelling to far-flung places. There are plenty of long distance cycling routes in the UK. In fact, one of the best bits about a bicycle is being able to start from your front door if you like. You can pack up your bags, set off on your bicycle and end up as far-flung as you want. After all, in the famous words of Bilbo Baggins, “The road goes ever on and on.”

But, not everyone has the months of spare time required to accidentally cycle to the other side of the planet and save the world from an evil dark lord. A fair few of us rather like planning our cycle tours in advance too. With that in mind, here are our top picks of some of our favourite long distance cycling routes in the UK.

Marked Cycling Routes

1) The C2C Cycle Route

Pictured: The beach and cliffs near Whitehaven in Cumbria

Distance: 137 miles

Theme: Cross Country

Location: North England

If you’ve spent much time hiking, you’d be forgiven for instinctively calling this route the Coast to Coast. And, yes, it does go from one side of the UK to the other. However, some smart cyclist decided to differentiate it from the well known walking route. It’s pronounced “Sea to Sea” and abbreviated “C2C”. Yeah…. The route takes you from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, starting in Whitehaven (with a great big sign) and finishing in Tyneside.

For more on The C2C Cycle Route, head here

2) The North Cycle Route (EV12)

Pictured: National Cycle Route signs in Lerwick, Shetland

Distance: 1712 miles

Theme: Coastal Breezes

Location: East Coast and Shetland

This is probably the longest signed bike tour in the UK. Starting from the northern tip of the Shetland Islands, it runs down the east coast of Scotland and England to Dover. It’s actually part of a 3692 mile European bike tour that circumnavigates the North Sea, ending in Norway. Or from Norway to Shetland, we suppose, depending on which side you want your sea breeze.

The UK part of the route is on a combination of on-road and off-road bike paths. It’s signed all the way to London with EV12 stickers and Sustrans ones (National Cycle Route 1) to Dover. Typically, the route will do what it can to keep you off roads and away from cars (including the classing three sides round a car park). You shouldn’t need a mountain bike though – it’s not that off road.

For more on The North Sea Cycle Route (EV12), head here

Unmarked Cycling Routes

3) The Great North Trail

Pictured: Winnats Pass in the Peak District

Distance: 825 miles

Theme: Remote Mountains

Location: West side of England and Scotland

The Great North Trail is a new off-road cycling route that connects the bottom of the Peak District to the tip of Scotland. It’s designed for adventure mountain biking and aims to become part of an off-road north to south of the UK. The majority of the route is not signed – as you’d imagine given how far from a road you’ll often be.

For more on The Great North Trail, head here

4) North Coast 500

Pictured: Loch Maree from Glen Docherty, part of the North Coast 500

Distance: 516 miles

Theme: Highland Cow

Location: Scotland

A very popular road tripping route, turned bike tour, around Scotland. The route is a loop around the top half of Scotland, starting and finishing in Inverness. Some people choose to take the driving route, which is quicker but involves some A roads.

Others take the longer version, developed particularly for cycle tourists, that uses smaller lanes and avoids the traffic. Although there is plenty of infrastructure, it’s possible to camp in the highlands if you follow local guidance.

For more on the North Coast 500, head here


Pictured: Sign at Land’s End, the starting point of the LEJOG cycling route

Distance: Variable, traditionally around 874 miles

Theme: Epic Challenger

Location: UK

Land’s End to John O’Groats (LEJOG) is a famous long distance UK route, regardless of your chosen mode of transport. People will try to connect these two points, the most south westerly and north easterly in the UK respectively, in any means they can.

The ones you hear about are typically the fastest and most direct – or the person trying to do it on a space hopper to be different. Although the route is unmarked, and generally down to person preference, there are certain more “traditional” ways of doing it. Plenty of guidebooks are available with cyclists in mind.

And if you’re wondering why not JOGLE… well, some people do it. But you’re cycling into a headwind most of the way and hit the extreme hills of Devon and Cornwall when you’re most tired. Don’t let us stop you though.

For more on cycling LEJOG, head here

6) King Alfred’s Way

Pictured: King Alfred’s statue in Winchester, the start point and end point for the King Alfred’s Way

Distance: 218 miles

Theme: Ancient History

Location: Wessex (Southern England)

King Alfred’s Way is a new bikepacking route, starting and finishing in Winchester at King Alfred’s statue. The route was designed with historical interest in mind, taking in ancient cathedrals, castles, Iron Age forts and that little art installation called Stonehenge.

It is almost entirely off-road on bridleways and byways. Although it’s not signed officially, you can follow other waymarked routes like the South Downs Way and the Ridgeway for much of it.

For more on King Alfred’s Way, head here

You May Also Like

The First Time I Went… | Cycle Touring

Retracing Routes | Riding The Hebridean Way

Cycling 4 Soup | How One Man Rode 2500km In 10 Days For The Taste Of Home

Wild Camping in the UK | Essential Guide

Wild Camping in Scotland | Essential Guide

Best Coastal Runs In The UK | 10 Coastline Routes To Get You Running

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.