Feeling inspired by the Tour de France's upcoming Grand Depart from Yorkshire? There are plenty of attractive and easy cycling routes around the UK that are perfectly safe and enjoyable for beginners. Here are nine of our favourites.
1 Cambridge to Bottisham
A seven-mile route on predominantly tarmac that’s flat and mostly traffic-free with a couple of short road sections. The ride begins at St John’s College and passes the Museum of Technology in the old Pumping Station, which is worth a peruse.
Bike hire: City Cycle Hire (www.citycyclehire.com, 01223 365629)
2 Cowes to Newport and Sandown
A 16-mile stretch on the Isle of Wight, one of the UK’s most beautiful islands. The ride is a mix of disused railway paths and road. On your way, stop and consume a packed lunch while searching out red squirrels and the rare Glanville fritillary butterfly.
Bike hire: Isle of Wight Hire (www.isleofwighthire.co.uk, 01983 299056)
3 Market Harborough to Northampton
14 miles over a disused railway path. After crossing Scotland Road you reach rolling open countryside, before a gentle ascent to the rather spooky Oxendon Tunnel. A number of pubs lie just off the route for swift refreshments.
Bike hire: Pitsford Cycles (www.pitsfordcycles.co.uk, 01604 881777)
4 Keswick to Threlkeld
A six-mile round trip on a path that’s fairly flat and free of traffic. It’s a beautiful ride through the tree-clad Greta Gorge, finishing in Threlkeld, which sits in the shadow of the Blencathra Mountain and features a quarry and mining museum.
Bike hire: Keswick Bikes (www.keswickbikes.co.uk, 01768 775202)
5 Roker Beach to Beamish
15 miles of tarmac and occasional road featuring one minor gradient. Football fans will enjoy passing Sunderland’s Stadium of Light; all will enjoy stopping off to visit Washington Wetlands Centre, home to flamingos and some of the world’s rarest waterbirds.
Bike hire: Peter Darke Cycles (1 William Street, Sunderland, SR1 1UL, 0191 510 8155)
6 York to Beningbrough
10 miles split between traffic-free paths and quiet lanes. The trip takes you through the picturesque villages of Overton and Shipton, where there’s a café and pub for a refill, and onto Beningbrough Hall, an 18th-century mansion owned by the National Trust.
Bike hire: Get Cycling Bike Shop (www.getcycling.org.uk, 01904 636812)
7 Hengoed Viaduct to Taff Bargoed
Six-miles of mostly purpose-built cycle path in Caerphilly. Much of the backdrop is newly landscaped land, regenerated from old industrial workings. It finishes at Taff Bargoed Climbing Centre, so if you’re keen, you can slip into a harness and start ascending.
Bike hire: Castle Bikes (www.castlebikes.co.uk, 029 2132 0121)
8 Edinburgh to Forth Road Bridge
Eight miles of quiet roads and traffic-free paths. Leave Haymarket and head north west past Lauriston Castle to take route 76 along the coastline of the Firth of Forth and over the Suspension Bridge.
Bike hire: Bike Trax (www.biketrax.co.uk, 0131 228 6633)
9 Belfast to Comber
Seven miles along the old Belfast to Comber railway line. Numerous views provide a worthy distraction including Stormont, Scrabo Tower, and the Harland & Wolff cranes.
Bike hire: Belfast Bike Tours (www.belfastbiketours.com, 07812 114235)
For more on cycling in the UK this summer, pick up a copy of BBC Countryfile Magazine, on sale now.
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