The Tour de France: The world’s most prestigious and arduous sporting event. Taking place between 1 July – 24 July, it’s back and it’s bigger than ever. Traditionally an all-male event, this year the annual multiple stage bike race welcomes the long-awaited re-birth of the women’s edition: The Tour de France Femmes.
The world’s top riders this year will cover 2,000 miles in just 23 days. But for the rest of us cycling lovers – without quite the same endurance levels – here are some of the UK’s top cycling getaways to add to the diary this summer.
St Austell, Cornwall
This network of shorter, accessible trails is ideal for younger families or beginner cyclists. With tracks offering a variety of flatter, smooth surfaces, you can turn your focus to the views over the glimmering bay and turquoise dams rather than on making it to the top of the hill. The routes will take you through scenic woods and heathland, as well as a 7km track to the Eden Project. Cruise along gentle footpaths and keep a look out for birds of prey such as sparrow hawks and kestrels. Enjoy the striking beauty and catch the peace and quiet these Cornish clay trails have to offer.
Stay nearby at The Nare Hotel
Isle of Arran (loop)
Located off the coast of Glasgow, this little Scottish island is the perfect “Scotland in miniature” staycation getaway. The island can be accessed by car or ferry but if travelling by public transport, be sure to book ahead of time as there is limited space in the summer months. If you’re looking for a gentler ride, the island’s western side is known to be flatter and a little more forgiving than the eastern side. But with clear sign posting, you can decide on your route upon arrival depending how daring you feel on the day. Both routes border the coast, swathed with spell-bounding panoramic scenery, presenting abundant photo opportunities the entire way. If you’re feeling adventurous and looking for a challenge, you can cycle the whole island. But be warned, this demanding ride is not for the faint of heart, at 88km the entire trip typically takes up to 8 hours.
St Govan’s Head
Prepare for some of Wales’ most breathtaking views. Flat, tranquil and gloriously picturesque. Totalling 12kms, this beginner’s level trail is perfect for little legs and an all-time favourite. The track follows the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path and is the only part of the coastal line that is accessible by bike. Keep your eyes peeled at the cliff tops for nesting seabirds and grey seals. If visiting from August-November, their breeding season, you may even be lucky enough to spot some seal pups!
One of Snowdonia’s best known and travelled trails. The Lon Eifion track takes you from the bustling, historical town of Caernarfon through stretches of green to the quaint, rural village, Bryncir. Totalling just shy of 20km, this track is perfect for all the family with ample choice of pubs and picnic spots along the way. Or if you don’t find yourself among the avid cyclists, the completely tarmacked track is perfect for running and walking too.
Stay nearby at Palé Hall Hotel
Burford East circular
The Cotswolds is home to some of the country’s most charming olde villages. This 52km loop begins and ends in the idyllic town of Burford. Though the route is generally considered more challenging, embarking on this trail is one of the best ways to see some of the east Cotswolds’ greatest sights.
Beginning in Burford’s bustling high street, this track glides through the river Windrush bordered by shops, cafés, restaurants and gift shops, all encapsulating an old-world charm. The village of Charlbury can be found at the halfway point. This little hidden gem of a destination offers a multitude of unique things to do including sighting some of the Cotswolds’ prettiest unspoilt spots.
Stay nearby at Barnsley House
South Downs Way
The South Downs
With 160km of leafy country lanes to explore, the South Downs Way National Trail offers something for everyone. Breathe in the fresh country air while feasting your eyes on the quintessentially English countryside. Passing through five national nature reserves, enjoy the rural landscapes, ancient woodland and protected sights. And at the end of your ride, why not tuck into a hot meal and a well-deserved pint at one of the villages quaint pubs?
Stay nearby at Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa