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There’s nothing quite like the exhilaration and sense of freedom of cycling in a National Park.

Whether it’s a gentle pedal on woodland tracks and quiet country lanes, or the heart-pounding challenge of mountain biking in rugged uplands, National Parks have a cycling adventure for everyone.

As well as helping the environment, taking to two wheels lets you fully soak up the scenery – and visit those hidden gems off the beaten track.

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Inspiration for a great family day out

Looking for a flat and family-friendly bike ride? National Parks have plenty of options! Peaceful country lanes and traffic-free byways, bridleways and cycle paths mean there are miles upon miles of easy cycle routes in all the National Parks. The Broads, New Forest, South Downs and the south of Pembrokeshire Coast are especially gentle for beginners and families. Here are five of our favourite family cycle rides to motivate you!

Meon Valley Trail, South Downs – 10 miles of level riding taking in woodland, rivers and epic views. The route follows the former railway line which ran from Wickham to West Meon and you’ll pass through several pretty villages – many of which have some lovely tearooms and cosy low-beamed pubs. Don’t miss Droxford station, as this is where former Prime Minister Winston Churchill apparently finalised the plans for D-Day with General Eisenhower!

Route 6, The Broads – A short ride along quiet country lanes, this ride is suitable for the whole family and takes in the Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Hickling Broad, home to many rare species of Broadland wildlife, and Sutton Mill, one of the tallest mills of its type in the UK.

Y Dramffordd, Pembrokeshire Coast – This easy 2-mile route is a perfect place for a family to stretch its cycling legs. Running from Stepaside to the popular beachside village of Saundersfoot, the route is wide, well-paved and you can expect some breathtaking views of the coast!

Mawddach Trail, Eryri (Snowdonia) – This stunning 9-mile stretch follows the old disused railway line along the edge of the beautiful Mawddach estuary in Southern Eryri. A great day out on the bikes for all ages!

Old Logging Way: Cairngorms – The Cairngorms is perhaps best known for its rugged landscapes, but tucked amongst the mountain range is the UK’s most extensive remnants of Caledonian pine forest, and a number of other spots perfect for a more relaxed pedalling experience. A good place to start is the Old Logging Way – a 3.5-mile traffic-free route between Aviemore and Glenmore. The route takes you through magical forests and lochs, with scenic views of the Cairngorms at every turn.

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Take your mountain bike to a real mountain

Mountain bikes were made for mountains. The uplands of National Parks offer superb, challenging trails that will leave you with a sense of achievement and eager to find your next electrifying experience. The rugged peaks of the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons), Eryri (Snowdonia) , Lake District, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Northumberland, Peak District, and Yorkshire Dales are particularly suited for those looking to test their biking skills – all while immersed in the most stunning scenery in Britain! Here are five ideas to whet your appetite for a magnificent mountain biking adventure:

The Dark Peak, Peak District – the 70km Dark Peak route is renowned for its gritstone, rocky biking tracks, which make for an exhilarating yet demanding ride.

Nan Bield Pass, Lake District – this classic “hike a bike” experience is worth all the leg and shoulder work for its truly epic descent!

Kielder Forest, Northumberland – A jewel nestled in the heart of Northumberland boasting some super off-road tracks. Did you know Kielder Lake is the largest man-made lake in Northern Europe and, at 250 miles, Kielder Forest is the largest in England?

Swaledale, Yorkshire Dales – A stunning place to mountain bike but adventure here is earned! Home of the Ard Rock Enduro, the trail network is almost endless however, navigation is a key part of mountain biking in this corner of the Dales.

Llanberis Trail, Eryri (Snowdonia) – A renowned route leads adventurous cyclists to the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), Wales’ highest peak, and takes in some spectacular mountain scenery. Not for the faint hearted!

Bikes, boats and trains

There are so many options in National Parks to combine your cycling adventure with other modes of transport.

Let the train take some of the strain, the North York Moors steam railway and the West Loch Lomond Way let you travel back by train to your starting point.

Over in the Lake District you can load your bike on to a boat to cross Windermere as part of your route!

Cycle tours

Ditch the car and take to two wheels for the whole of your holiday. The 80-mile Moor to Sea trail across the North York Moors starts at the coast and ends on beautiful heather moors.

Other options include the 90-mile Dartmoor Way and 130-mile Yorkshire Dales Cycleway –  both circular rides over varied terrain. Or, for an epic adventure, why not try the Hadrian’s Cycleway,  following the line of the ancient wall for 173-miles from coast to coast?


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