Thinking of a cycling holiday in the UK? We've got you covered.

August 3, 2020
Emily Owen

We’re all going on a…. staycation in England!

With the sunny Spanish beaches and Roman colosseums looking increasingly improbable for a holiday this year, there’s never been a better time to say adiós to an overseas getaway, and a big fat hello to a UK staycation.

And with COVID looking like it’s going to be hanging around for a little while longer, a cycling holiday can be a great option to avoid the crowds. Stay in your own socially distanced bubble as you pedal around the British countryside, sampling the delights of local pubs and farm shops.

Whether it’s a short weekend or a two week break, we’ve been testing and researching the best UK cycling routes to help you plan your staycation.


The power is in your hands

Remember, when it comes to cycling holidays there are no rules. You choose your mileage, pace and destination.

If - like us - you’ve engaged in some serious lockdown gluttony and are concerned that your recent consumption of jam donuts have affected your fitness, then choose a lower mileage! It’s a holiday! If you want to spend a morning pedalling 10 miles, before lounging in the gardens of the aforementioned pubs, then you do just that.

Don’t let a lack of equipment put you off either. You don’t need a shiny new touring bike. If it’s got two wheels and moves forwards, you’ve got your vessel. Buy a rack and some second hand panniers off ebay and you’re ready to rock n roll.

Although, as a disclaimer, it’s always a good idea to get your bike serviced before you go, lest you find yourself halfway up a Welsh mountain with an unruly steed on your hands.


North Coast 500 (500 miles)


We’re starting off with the most challenging trip on our list. If you fancy tackling some serious climbs and unpredictable weather then head to Scotland to pedal the North Coast 500. A newbie to the UK’s cycling routes, the NC500 was created in 2015 to boost highland tourism.

Beginning in Inverness, the 500 mile route traverses the most northern points of the UK mainland. In return for your efforts you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking scenery, from the Torridon mountains to Sinclair’s Bay.

Other highlights include John O’Groats and Ardvreck Castle. Oh, and there’s the added benefit of legal wild camping in Scotland. Feel free to pitch your tent anywhere, unless specifically told not to.

To get inspired, have a watch of the record-breaking round-the-world cyclist, Mark Beaumont playing tour guide on the NC500. Unlike Mark, however, we’re not suggesting you do it in three days!


Four Abbey’s Route (55 miles)

Melrose Abbey (source: visitscotland.com)

If you fancy exploring stunning Scottish landscapes without the epic climb of Bealach na Ba, then the Four Abbey’s Route could be the trip for you. The 55 mile route around the Scottish borders takes in the countryside surrounding Melrose, Dryburgh, Jedburgh and Kelso abbeys.

With just a few short climbs, the route could easily be done as a two day excursion. Whilst a few small stints on ‘A’ roads are unavoidable, the majority of the route ambles through sleepy villages. Spend the days indulging in local produce from farmers markets and tea rooms, before crashing for the night in one of the quaint BnBs along the way.

Hadrian’s Cycleway (170 miles)

Hadrian's Cycleway (source: cycle.travel)

We’re still in the North! National Cycle Route 72 is Hadrian’s Cycleway, a 170 mile route through some of England’s most dramatic landscapes. Running through country lanes and river paths, the route has very little traffic making for stress free cycling. And for all you history buffs, there are plenty of Roman forts along the World Heritage site.

Roughly following the route of Hadrian’s Wall, the cycleway is a fairly easy ride, never going more than 250m above sea level. Beginning near Carlisle, the route takes you through the market towns of Brampton and Hexham, before ending in Tynemouth near Newcastle.

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