In a summer that’s all about sport and austerity measures, cycling looks set to grow and grow. What more do we need to say, it’s cheap to do; easy enough for anyone with a basic level of fitness; gets the legs going; is great for families, couples, mates and even solo-riders; and there’s a lots of bicycle paths through Sustrans and the National Cycle Network. Here are the Outdoor Adventure Guide’s pick of family friendly cycle routes for a two-wheeled summer…
1. Cuckoo Trail from Polegate (nr Eastbourne) to Heathfield
Route type: Tarmac, traffic-free
Distance: 11 miles
The Cuckoo Trail is named after an old Sussex tradition of releasing a cuckoo at the Heathfield Fair. Once a railway line, this trail offers a superb, peaceful, traffic-free route ideal for cyclists and walkers of all ages. There is a gentle 122m (400ft) climb over 11 miles (17.5km) from Polegate to Heathfield. That’s easy for all cyclists to manage. The trail runs through broadleaf woodland, open grassland, arable farmland, and pasture with verges often thick with wildflowers. It’s also been livened up with man-made sculptures.
2. Camel Trail from Poley’s Bridge to Padstow via Bodmin
Route type: Railway path
Distance: 18 miles
One of the most popular recreational routes in the country, the Camel Trail runs from Padstow to Poley’s Bridge, via Wadebridge and Bodmin. The trail passes through the wooded countryside of the upper Camel Valley and alongside the picturesque Camel estuary, which is why it’s one of the flattest places to cycle in hilly Cornwall. The traffic-free trail follows the route of an old railway and delivers great views of moorland, woodland and the estuary. The trail is also used by walkers, joggers and horse-riders.
3. Fallow field Loopline from Chorlton cum Hardy to Debdale and Manchester Stadium, South Manchester
Route type: Disused railway path, in-filled canal – largely flat and traffic-free
Distance: 8 miles
The Fallowfield Loopline is an attractive, largely traffic-free walking and cycling route which follows a former railway line. The route is classic urban railway path, ideal for families and new cyclists who need to build up their confidence away from road traffic.
Leafier at the western end and more urban at the eastern end towards Debdale, it forms a green corridor running about one mile south of the city centre linking parks and open spaces. Route 60 uses the in-filled canal to head up to the Velodrome and City Stadium.
4. Alban Way from St Albans to Hatfield
Route type: Disused railway. Smooth, traffic-free and suitable for anyone who can ride
Distance: 6 miles
The Alban Way is a trail for cyclists and walkers along the former route of the Hatfield to St Albans branch line of the Great Northern Railway. Running between these historic and usefully close towns, it provides a safe, traffic-free route for leisure and commuting. It’s short enough for bikes with stabilisers to use.
The route has many access points, most of which are ramped or level and features links to fishing lakes, St Albans Abbey, the university campus and Hatfield House.
5. Esk Valley Cycleway from Musselburgh to Dalkeith
Route type: Tarmac railway path with short on-road link
Distance: 6 miles
This riverside and railway path links the coastal town of Musselburgh with Dalkeith. Largely traffic-free, the route passes along wooded pathways and minor roads, with views of the Firth of Forth and a rich variety of wildlife. At Musselburgh, National Route 1 passes the train station and continues into Edinburgh.
Musselburgh is a harbour town with spectacular views across the River Forth. Dalkeith Country Park, in the grounds of Dalkeith House, has an excellent adventure playground.
6. Swiss Valley Cycle Route from the Discovery Centre at the Millennium Coastal Park to Tumble
Route type: Traffic-free disused railway
Distance: 11 miles
The Swiss Valley Cycle Route follows a disused railway line that climbs gently from the Millennium Coastal Park into the rolling hills above Llanelli where you reach Lleidi reservoirs.
From Tumble, the route continues past the Mynydd Mawr Woodland Park to Cross Hands where there is the option of a link to the National Botanic Garden of Wales at Middleton Hall.
Traffic-free and well-surfaced throughout, this route is ideal for families or inexperienced cyclists.
Want to try these yourself?
Download our printable route maps and descriptions of Family friendly cycle rides