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10 cycle paths in South West England

The South West is the perfect haven for cycling. National Parks, forest trails, country lanes and coastal tracks are awaiting your discovery. Disused railway tracks have been converted into family friendly cycle routes, and the "green" city of Bristol even has a dedicated speed restriction enforced for the well-being of cyclists!

1. The Camel Trail, Padstow - Wadebridge - Bodmin – Wenfordbridge, Cornwall

Camel Trail in Padstow © Matt JessopTaking a Break on the Camel Trail © Matt Jessop

The Camel Trail provides access to the beautiful Cornish countryside along a disused railway line. Running from Padstow to Bodmin via Wadebridge, cyclists can explore the wooded countryside, the picturesque Camel Estuary and have access to some of Cornwall's most beautiful villages and seaside towns. Stop off for a bite to eat at one of many restaurants, cafes and traditional pubs and enjoy some delicious local produce served daily. A popular stop off is Padstow; home to Rick Stein's famous seafood restaurant, bistro, cafe and fish and chips take away.

Find out about the Camel Trail

Grading: 1

2. Cycle The Two Tunnels, Bath, Somerset

Bath Two Tunnels Greenway © VisitBath, David KennedyBath Two Tunnels Greenway © VisitBath, David Kennedy

Take a ride or walk through Britain's longest cycle tunnel on The Two Tunnels Greenway. This new and exciting path is on the south side of Bath and features two enormous tunnels including the longest in Britain at over one mile long.  Cycle at your leisure while listening to music and enjoying the ambient light installations along the way.  When you come out of the tunnel you will be able to take in the breath-taking views of Bath’s surrounding countryside. The path links into the National Cycle Network with routes to the South-West’s biggest city, Bristol, and Bournemouth on the south coast of England.  If you enjoy running, why not join one of the many running events that take place through The Two Tunnels?  With races of varying lengths there is something suitable for all abilities. For more details on the races visit 

Find out about the Two Tunnels

Grading: 1

 

3. Exe Estuary, Exeter, Exmouth, Dawlish, Devon

Exe Estuary Trail © VisitExeter, Tony CobleyExe Estuary Trail © VisitExeter, Tony Cobley

A 26 mile, mainly flat cycle route and walkway which runs around the entire Exe Estuary linking Exmouth, Exeter and Dawlish, with fantastic views along the River Exe. The predominantly off-road network, designed by Devon County Council, links Exmouth to Dawlish Warren, via Topsham and Exeter, and forms part of National Cycle Network 2. 

This route provides an exciting opportunity for people to experience cycling or walking around the entire Exe Estuary, appreciating the wildlife and passing through some beautiful riverside towns and villages steeped in maritime history.

Find out about cycling the Exe Estuary

Grading: 1

4. Cycle the City, Bristol

Cycle the City Bristol Picnic © VisitBristol, CycletheCityCycle the City Bristol Picnic © VisitBristol, CycletheCity

As the UK’s first cycling city, Bristol embraces cyclists with open arms and exploring the city on two-wheels is one of the best ways to discover its secrets. A vast network of cycle paths and bike-friendly routes lead to iconic landmarks, stunning viewpoints, excellent pubs and nearby countryside. Cycle the City, located at No.1 Harbourside near Bristol’s floating harbour offer vintage-style bicycle hire with comfy saddles and baskets and brilliant themed tours. Saddle up and choose from an ‘Ale trail’ along scenic routes with stops at various pubs and plenty of beer trivia, an informal wine-tasting tour through handpicked venues and stunning backdrops to sip organic English wines from local vineyards or the Lost Bristol Harbour Tour which traces the water’s edge.

Find out about cycling in Bristol

Grading: 2

5. Devon Coast to Coast, Plymouth, Devon

Route 27 of the National Cycle Network is known as the Devon Coast to Coast cycle route.  A stretch of the Sustrans Route 27 in West Devon is the Drake’s Trail, a 21 mile cycling and walking route linking Tavistock with Plymouth. This important part of Devon's recreational route network runs through superb countryside along the edge of Dartmoor together with historical and heritage interest. The Trail also includes the long-established Plym Valley Trail, and creates a network of safe and easy cycling as well as mountain biking and walking opportunities for all the family to enjoy.      

Find out about the Devon Coast to Coast

Grading: 2

6. Bristol to Bath Cycle Path, Bristol

Bristol to Bath Cycle Path © VisitBristol, SustransBristol to Bath Cycle Path © VisitBristol, Sustrans

The Bristol and Bath Railway Path is a 13 mile, flat, off road path between the cities of Bristol and Bath. The path was constructed on the bed of the former Midland Railway between 1979 and 1986 and was the first ever walking and cycling path created by cycling charity Sustrans.  A traffic-free, attractive leisure and commuting route and important wildlife corridor with access for disabled users, it’s no wonder that today the path is the most popular cycle path in Britain.  The route begins in Bristol’s historic Harbourside, passes via Mangotsfield and Saltford before arriving in the heart of the city of Bath. Discover fascinating history, sculptures along the way and working steam engines, visit intriguing places nearby, connect to other walks and trails and refuel with a pub lunch along the way.

Find out about Bath to Bristol

Grading: 2

7. Marshwood Trails, West Dorset, Dorset

Marshwood Trails was set up to help people discover the best cycle routes, the tastiest local food and all the other hidden gems that West Dorset has to offer. Electric bikes mean that people of all ages and levels of fitness can enjoy this fun and healthy recreational activity. Marshwood Trails’ scheduled guided tours are run by local experts who invite you to discover Dorset’s secrets, whether it be the most stunning spots to drink in the view, undiscovered local attractions or where to enjoy the most delicious refreshments along the way. 

Find out about Marshwood Trails

Grading: 3

8. Cotswold Adventures, Chipping Camden, Gloucestershire

Get off the beaten track with a Cotswolds Adventures guided cycling tour as you meander through lanes, villages and stunning countryside. Using traffic-free country lanes, your expert guide will lead your group through the best villages and countryside in the Cotswolds.  Fresh air, wildlife, wonderful views and if you’re lucky even a glimpse of the Cotswold lavender fields in full bloom await you.  Your circular route starts in Chipping Campden, covering picture perfect spots Snowshill, Blockley and Ebrington to name a few.  Stop at a traditional country pub for lunch and refreshments, serving excellent locally sourced food as well as fine ales.  With all equipment provided, this is cycle touring at its easiest.  

Find out about Cotswolds Adventures

Grading: 3

9. Tarka Trail, North Devon

Cycling the Tarka Trail © VisitDevon

The Tarka Trail offers a family friendly option, with miles of relatively flat, traffic-free pathways that take in some absolutely stunning scenery. There are lots of places to stop along the way for food, and accommodation. Great bike shops operate in the area offering top mechanics, parts, new bikes and cafes to re-fuel.           

There is also a whole calendar of cycling events in north Devon to suit competitive riders of all abilities. From road races to the national 4x circuit, there is a lot going on. Quiet roads, stunning scenery and some challenging hill climbs make this area a popular choice for road cyclists. Adrenaline junkies can find some mountain biking, a 4x park, some trails (dirt jumps), and some great skate parks. 

Find out about the Tarka Trail

Grading: 3

10. Forest of Dean Trails, Gloucestershire

Flyup 417 in the Forest of Dean © Dave NoakesFlyup 417 in the Forest of Dean © Dave Noakes

Feel the adrenaline flow through you as you experience downhill mountain bike tracks in the Forest of Dean. The Forest of Dean’s tracks provide excitement and adventure that will take you deep into the forest. 

Find out about cycling in the Forest of Dean

Grading: 5

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