7 spectacular circular cycling routes

There are few things more enjoyable than a cycle ride through stunning English countryside - so if you’re dreaming of gliding past historic landmarks, seeing epic scenery and feeling fresh air on your face, here are a few spots to fuel some serious two-wheeled wanderlust. From a ride around a traditional Cotswold village to tranquil forest routes, you can let your imagination run wild as you pick which of these spectacular cycle loops to add to your bucket list…

1

The Great Flat Lode, Cornwall

The Great Flat Lode

Two vintage bikes resting on the side in the Peak District, England.

Length: 12Km

A chance to discover fascinating aspects of Cornish history and heritage, the Great Flat Lode route will take you through 12km of the Redruth Mining District, part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. This loop follows part of the Basset Mine Tramway, once used to transport tin ore, so it’s peppered with chances to discover the remains of the area’s industrial past, including Cornwall’s last tin smelter at Carnkie.

Although comprised of a challenging route of farmland, heathland and off-road tracks, this short loop has only a few steep sections for you to consider.

2

Hackney to Epping Forest

Victoria Park, Hackney

Length: 48Km

Those wanting to peddle their way from London’s East End into Greater London and onto the Essex countryside can plan a cycle ride from Hackney’s Victoria Park to the green woodland of Epping Forest. Along this circular route through the capital, cyclists will encounter landmarks such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and travel along the River Lea, as well as only a few short ascents.

Following the River Lea from east London is a treat for the senses, offering those looking to escape the crowds the chance to see another side of the bustling capital. This river runs directly through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a complex built for the 2012 summer Olympics. Cyclists can hop off their bikes and enjoy a well-earned break beside the impressive velodrome or relax with a picnic in the parkland.

Once you reach Epping Forest’s lush woodland, refuel at one of the many nearby cafés or enjoy a traditional afternoon tea, before venturing to the historic Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge. If you’re looking to stop off at any destinations en-route, we recommended that you check access and opening times before setting off.

3

Cromer Ridge, Norfolk

Cromer, Norfolk

Length: 22km

Lying on the east coast of England, less than three hours’ drive from London, Norfolk’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a great spot if you’re dreaming of the road less travelled. One of the area’s circular cycle routes that offers a dose of bucolic mindfulness is along Cromer Ridge, part of the Norfolk Coast Cycleway, which takes you across the hilly landscape and to the highest point in Norfolk, Beacon Hill. This path is a mixture of traffic-free cycleways and trickier off-road tracks, but rewards cyclists with undulating countryside, flint-clad villages and the stunning parkland of the 17th century manor house, Felbrigg Hall.

4

The Settle Circular, Yorkshire

Settle, Yorkshire

Two people cycling down a road in the Peak District, England.

Length: 28Km

Having sprinted onto many cyclists’ wish lists after the 2014 Tour de France, the Settle Circular is the loop for cyclists dreaming of a true challenge. Comprised of two ascents, this route passes through the expansive countryside and quaint villages of northern England. Giving you the chance to experience Yorkshire’s beautiful limestone scenery, historic packhorse bridges and dramatic valleys, this rewarding route also takes in picture-postcard villages such as Airton, Arncliffe and Grassington.

5

The Burford Circular (East), Cotswolds

Burford, The Cotswolds

Length: 52Km

To experience the quaint village life of the Cotswolds, you should add the Burford Circular to your list of dream rides. Lying 122Km from London, it takes saddled adventurers through Burford, along Windrush Valley, via tranquil lanes and charming honey-coloured hamlets.

This moderate ride takes in some outstanding heritage sites that span England’s history, from the fascinating Roman Villa at North Leigh and the 12th century Burford Church, to the inimitable Blenheim Palace. After cycling through historic England, take the opportunity to enjoy the medieval town of Burford itself – a chance to de-saddle and take a walk through time among traditional antique shops, historic houses and flower-filled courtyards.

6

The Forest of Marston Vale

Forest of Marston Vale, Bedfordshire

Length: 4Km

If you fancy an easy-going and family-friendly cycle ride immersed in forestland, look no further than the Forest of Marston Vale, which consists of two hill-free 4km loops, in a figure of eight. Lying just over 60Km from the historic city of Cambridge, Marston Vale offers rich forest views and revitalising lakeside cycling – this could be just the spot to enjoy a homemade picnic!

7

The Posh Parks of the Toon, Newcastle

Newcastle, Tyne and Wear

Two people cycling along the Quayside in Newcastle

Length: 12km

This urban cycling route takes in Newcastle’s iconic sights before veering off-piste to take in some of the city’s amazing green spaces. Setting off from The Cycle Hub (you can also hire bikes from here if you'd rather explore on your own), you’ll follow a guide through vibrant neighbourhoods like Ouseburn – the city’s cultural and create quarter – and the student mecca of Jesmond, as well as Jesmond Dene Park, a billionaire’s private garden that’s now a public recreation space. You’ll then head out to the Town Moor, which is larger than New York’s Central Park, where you’ll learn about how the hundreds of grazing cattle came to be there. The tour ends with a ride along the Quayside, with its seven famous bridges and contemporary architecture, before ending up where you started for a well-earned slice of cake.

21 Sep 2020(last updated)

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  • 1

    The Great Flat Lode

  • 2

    Victoria Park, Hackney

  • 3

    Cromer, Norfolk

  • 4

    Settle, Yorkshire

  • 5

    Burford, The Cotswolds

  • 6

    Forest of Marston Vale, Bedfordshire

  • 7

    Newcastle, Tyne and Wear

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