Great places to get on your bike
Fancy taking a cycling holiday? We suggest heading to Devon, Rutland or the Loire Valley in France – you’ll see lots of stunning scenery.
From lush meadows to rolling moorland, dramatic cliffs to tranquil river valleys, Devon boasts some of Britain’s most spectacular coastline and countryside. And whatever your age and ability, there’s a cycle trail to suit, many of them traffic-free.
So put your bikes on a roof rack or ask at Tourist Information Offices about local hire.
Lapsed cyclists and families can pedal gently along the Exe Estuary Trail from Exeter or enjoy stunning estuary views on the ‘Tarka Trail’ across North Devon. Or try the Granite Way which offers panoramic views across Dartmoor on an 11-mile stretch of disused railway between Okehampton and Lydford.
Level railway routes also provide the framework for Devon Coast-to-Coast, a 99-mile route between Ilfracombe on the north coast and Plymouth in the south. For those who enjoy steeper gradients, the circular Dartmoor Way winds through towns and villages along quiet lanes and dedicated tracks.
Fancy a more epic adventure?
Devon is part of the 240-mile West Country Way from Bristol to Padstow, and – with Dorset – forms part of the Tour de Manche, a 1,200km cross-Channel cycle trail which follows the British Jurassic coast and the French coastline of Brittany and Normandy.
Ilfracombe is also the start – or finish – of the Velodyssee which runs for over 1,200 coastal kilometres down the French Atlantic coast to the Spanish border.
For a great family cycle adventure, you can’t beat Rutland Water, near Oakham, which offers 23 miles of surfaced paths around one of Britain’s most picturesque reservoirs. Take your own bike or hire from Rutland Cycling at Whitwell or Normanton (visit rutlandcycling.com and click ‘hire’), then stop off at one of the two nature reserves, where you may be lucky enough to spot an osprey.
Enjoy a lakeside picnic or cafe stop and, for those with energy to spare, there’s a watersports centre, treetop adventure trail and children’s play area. Non-cyclists can relax on a lake cruise or take a seven-mile stride round the peninsula which juts out into the centre of the lake around Hambleton Hall country house hotel.
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Loire à Vélo
French villages make this trip feel like a proper expedition.
If you’re heading to the Loire Valley this summer, take a relaxing cycle along the Loire à Vélo, a long-distance cycle tourism route stretching for 800km from the outskirts of Nevers to the Atlantic coast.
It’s geared up for families as well as committed enthusiasts, with bike hire shops and bike-friendly hotels along the way.
This is a real hop-on, hop-off route through unspoilt river scenery, rich in wildlife; through charming villages, and past grand chateaux. It also links up with other cycle routes.
The path is well-signposted, surfaced and, in many places, completely car-free, making it the ideal place for a leisurely afternoon outing or a cycle touring holiday.
Find Your Route