In This Series
By the end of August your big summer trip is probably already a distant memory, but that doesn’t mean you can’t schedule in another short break before the UK weather turns nasty. Over the course of a long weekend you can visit pretty much anywhere in the UK, but if you prefer to choose from expert suggestions rather than poring over OS maps yourself, we asked Sustrans, the UK’s walking and cycling charity, to narrow it down to five places where you can fit in a scenic cycle ride during your trip. Saddle up.
Aberfoyle To Callander, Perthshire
Terrain: Traffic-free, gravel path, forest road/track
This ride takes place on National Route 7 in Scotland and is about as scenic as it gets, taking you through mountain forests and along the shore of Loch Venachar. Look out for red squirrels, deer, woodpeckers and even ospreys, although trying to spot the last one might involve a little too much looking upwards to be advisable while cycling.
Taff Trail Merthyr, Merthyr Tydfil
Terrain: Mixture of gravel, paved path and loose stone trail, with some on-road sections
The Taff Trail is an 88km walking and cycle path that runs from Cardiff Bay to Brecon, so you can tackle the whole thing if you want (perhaps taking several days). . But this short section of the trail – which starts at the spectacular Cefn Coed Viaduct and finishes at Pontsticill Reservoir – offers some of the most astounding views of the mountains in the Brecon Beacons National Park. For the most part you’ll be on traffic-free tracks, but the final section is on quiet roads.
Aire Valley Towpath, West Yorkshire
Terrain: Mixture of paved path, stony trail and fine gravel track
This ride starts conveniently at Leeds Station, then heads out of the city and through the countryside to finish at Bingley Five Rise Locks on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. It’s a ride that offers glimpses of Britain’s industrial past, passing the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Saltaire, a Victorian model village, where it’s worth stopping in at the famed Saltaire Brewery for a little well-earned refreshment.
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First And Last Trail, Cornwall
Terrain: Mostly paved path
If glorious views of the Cornish coast are your thing, and they should be everyone’s thing, then give this ride from Penzance to Hayle a go. Along the way you pass the Marazion Marsh RSPB Reserve so keep a sharp eye out for passing wetland birds, and once you’ve finished your ride you can explore Hayle, a World Heritage Site that includes a former mine and a historic harbour.
The Phoenix Trail, Buckinghamshire And Oxfordshire
Distance: 24km out and back
Terrain: Part paved path, part compacted limestone dust
This mostly traffic-free, flat ride runs between the towns of Princes Riseborough and Thame, and has two unique attractions. Once is the series of 30 artworks that line the route, and the second is the Thame landmarks that you might recognise from the excellent TV series Midsomer Murders, which features the most improbably high amount of murders of any show – 335 in 122 episodes, if you’re wondering, and 395 deaths in total.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.