This month’s guest blog comes from Danielle Lawson, part of the 101adventurers.com project which aims to help people build the courage they need to live a more adventurous life. By sharing the exploits of British adventurers and a selection of UK adventures to try, the project hopes to inspire the everyday adventurer in all of us.
Forget the Tour de France, there are far more awe-inspiring long distance rides in the UK than you may have realised. It’s all right here in Britain, from sweeping along rugged cliffs by the coast to exploring the ancient mysteries of castles, snow-capped mountains and legendary lochs. You don’t have to travel far to find an adventure on your bike! Here are the top picks for a long distance challenge.
1) The Tissington Trail in Derbyshire
Running through open limestone country between Ashbourne and Parsley Hay, this route was once a railway line but has since become part of the National Cycle Network (NCN). It’s ideal for beginners, since trains, just like recent cycling converts, can’t manage steep hills, so miles of flat countryside is guaranteed. The trail then connects with the High Peak Trail and other Peak District routes to ease beginners into their first long distance route. Stop whenever you need to!
2) Fakenham to Harwich
Another winner for those who don’t get too excited over hills, is this NCN route through East Anglia, which is delightfully flat for most of its 163 miles. You’ll have a tour of some of the most historic spots in England, so build in a little sightseeing time before you slide up to the Essex Coast.
3) Lon Las Cymru
254-miles, from either Cardiff or Chepstow over to Holyhead, is another ideal route for taking your first steps into long distance cycling. You start out with gentler gradients and can build up to the tougher parts over multiple days. It’ll all be worth it for the route’s breathtaking views over Snowdonia and the luxurious Coed-y-Brenin forest.
4) Coasts and Castles South
The right NCN route for history buffs, this one stretches an incredible 200 miles from Newcastle to Edinburgh, via a host of castles that you’ll recognise from films. The route is mostly by road, with a few gentle climbs, but nothing the average thigh muscle can’t handle, so this sits around moderate difficulty.
5) The West Country Way
An unbeatable slice of the West Country is available here, taking in the Bristol & Bath Railway Path, with the option to finish in whichever of those cities tempts you most. Or, alternatively, wherever you run out of steam and need to re-fuel with a taste of something local. Along the way, you’ll spot the Mendips and some of the wild scenery that makes up Exmoor.
6) Devon Coast to Coast cycle route
You’ll love this one if cars drive you crazy en-route, because most of it is on the remains of past railways, and cars can’t travel near you. You’ll have the chance to roll all the way from beachy sections of North Devon at Ilfracombe to where you hit sea once again, at Plymouth.
7) The Caledonia Way
Scotland doesn’t disappoint with this much-loved, legendary route. Sitting firmly in the more challenging side of the scale, you’ll be tackling much of the Scottish West Coast and you’ll enjoy tantalising brushes with Ben Nevis and Loch Ness. With quiet roads and country tow-paths making up the route, are you ready to take it on?
You can find full details of all these routes, along with maps, tips and everything you need to get started on the National Cycle Network. And, talking of starting, with an average of 60 hours of free time in the typical weekend for adventure, what are you waiting for? See you on two wheels!