5 ways to experience Britain by bike

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The British landscape is one of the most diverse in the world – rolling hills, challenging mountains, tree-shaded country lanes, you name it, we’ve got it. Then of course there’s those world-famous cities that just have to be explored. What easier way to get about and take it all in than atop 2 wheels? We look at 5 cycle rides you can take to get a real flavour of the UK.

1. Follow The Grand Tour

The English start point in Yorkshire for the 2014 Tour De France. Buttertubs pass, and the view over the dales landscape. Cyclist on the road.

See if you can climb the same Yorkshire hills that the champion cyclists will in the Tour de France  this July. Don’t be fooled by the quaintly named Buttertubs Pass – this classic route can be approached from either side and connects Hawes in Wensleydale to Muker in Swaledale. From either direction expect a long climb with some steep sections, but you will surely be rewarded with the beautiful open moorland.

The ‘Buttertubs’ in case you’re wondering are a series of open shafts near the summit into which local farmers would lower their butter and cheese to keep them cool.

How to:

The nearest town from where to start/finish is Hawes, a marketplace since 1307 and home to Wensleydale Cheese. Find out more on cycling in the Yorkshire Dales.

2. A regal ride

Mind the Gap tours Ham House

Ah, what gentler way to absorb the English scenery than pedalling along on a vintage bicycle? These bikes are designed with comfort in mind, with comfy leather saddles and the single gear proves how undemanding the routes are. You’ll follow a delightful riverside route and arrive at Hampton Court Palace in style.

All you need is to pop your packed lunch and camera in the basket and off you go!

How to:

Book with Mind the Gap Tours  who will meet you at London Waterloo station to take the train to Richmond (20mins) where you collect your bicycles, ready to set off on the ride to Hampton Court.

3. See the city on 2 wheels

Barclays bikes, London

Explored London but fancy seeing it from a new perspective? The Barclays Cycle Hire scheme is perfect if you feel like picking up a bike, going for a ride and dropping it off when you’ve had enough. Cycle between 2 different locations or do a circular trip and return it to the same spot.

How to:

You can find the bike docking stations at 100s of locations all around the capital. You will need a credit or debit card to pay at the terminals.

4. Island life

Isle of Arran, Goat Fell, Strathclyde, Scotland

The rugged Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland encapsulates the country’s finest features – mountains, hills and stunning seascapes all on one island.

And measuring 167 sq miles, you can cover a lot of ground by bicycle. Designated trails lead you over the peaks so be prepared for some exertion! Continuous seaviews give you the chance to spot seals and dolphins. Look up and you could spot a golden eagle soaring.

How to:

Take a ferry from Ardrossan on the mainland with Caledonian MacBrayne.

5. Olympic standard

Lee Valley VeloPark  Velodrome track

You saw it during the Olympics, now you can try it out for yourself – Lee Valley VeloPark is the only place in the world where you can try out track cycling, road racing, BMX or mountain biking all in one place.

At the London 2012 venue within Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London, you can choose from cycling the track in the iconic velodrome, racing on the road circuit, tackling the mountain bike trails, or jumping and bumping on the berms of the re-modelled Olympic BMX track.

How to:

The nearest rail and Underground station is Stratford from where the park is a 20-minute walk. Buses 388, 308, 339, 97 also stop outside.

More cycling tips

Sustrans is a UK charity with loads of great info on cycling in the country; or check out the national cyclists’ organisation.

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2 Responses to “5 ways to experience Britain by bike”

  1. Laura @Travelocafe
    July 21, 2014 at 11:57 am #

    Wonderful tips. We have recently discovered UK by train. Maybe the next one we can do as you suggest – by bike. That will be fine.

    • Rachel Ricks
      July 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

      Hi Laura, yes there are so many ways to explore Britain and see its diverse landscapes and cities! Get pedalling! ;-)

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