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5 Reasons the C2C is so Popular

5 Reasons the C2C is so Popular

by Richard Peace, cycling journalist, guide book author, map designer:

Sustrans’ C2C cycle route is truly a phenomenon; it can fairly claim to be the most popular and widely known long distance cycle route in the UK, completed by many thousands each year. This is despite the fact it makes up only a tiny percentage of the almost 17,000 miles of Sustrans National Cycle Network that spans the UK.

With the longest option amounting to nearly 140 miles and crossing two of the UK’s main mountain ranges (the Lake District and the Northern Pennines) it’s hardly surprising that cycling the C2C between the Cumbrian coast and one of the north-east’s main cities is classed as a major achievement.

If you want to make it an ironman style test of cycling endurance you could always try and complete the route in a day. According to Wikipedia the current record actually stands at precisely 7 hours 53 minutes and 03 seconds, west to east, by Joel Toombs and Matt Shorrock on 28 September 2012.

Other amazing achievements cycling the C2C include crossings by a four year old (cycling a tagalong bike behind his Dad) and a crossing on large wheeled unicycles!

Of course if you want to make the challenge a little easier you can always use one of the many luggage services to go load-free, take more days to shorten the distance cycled every day (between three and seven days is the norm), use an e-bike or select the easier route options over harder ones. 

Descending from Hartside 2

Whichever way you look at it, crossing the roof of England by bike and linking the Irish and North Seas in the process will feel like an achievement.

The 5 Reasons the C2C is so Popular

1. The Scenery

Stunning. Magnificent. Breathtaking. These are cliched and overused descriptions of landcsapes in the outdoors industry so just look at the photos if you don’t believe me!

2. The Infrastructure

I’m not really talking cycle lanes here, although there are some great traffic-free paths such as the one that leads from Whitehaven to the edge of the Lake District and the ride along the river Tyne in Newcastle.

Think more of a huge range of accommodation, from small rural campsites to grand, historic hotels, many aware of the needs of cyclists (for example offering secure cycle storage). Then there are the tour operators who can arrange all sorts of packages from comprehensive holidays with pre-booked hotels to simple luggage transfer services. Many also offer a service returning you and your bike to your start point if required.

If you want to make the C2C into a bigger adventure you could cycle back west on one of the other coast to coast routes that were put in place in the wake of the C2C’s success. Hadrian’s Cycleway leads from Newcastle to Carlisle and along the Cumbrian coast to Whitehaven, visiting sections of the eponymous wall (a return route of 170 miles though it is possible to shortcut from Carlisle along the Reivers route). There’s also the Walney to Wear that heads back to southern Lakeland.

No doubt the prevalence of charity rides along the route has also helped put in place all the support services for a C2C ride that can be as self-organised or as arranged for you as you like. 

3. A Walking Past

The idea of travelling coast to coast across the Lakes and Pennines under human power alone was already firmly embedded in the public consciousness before the C2C cycle route came along in 1994. The Coast to Coast Walk is a 182-mile route devised by the legendary Alfred Wainwright in 1973. Although it takes quite a different route to the cycle trip it helped hugely to promote the idea of the coast to coast being one of the most spectacular and satisfying journeys you could make.

4. The Sustrans Fanfare

Sustrans’ launch of the C2C was succeeded the following year by a grant of £43.5 million from the Millennium Lottery Fund to extend the National Cycle Network to smaller towns and rural areas.

Sustrans also launched the “Safe Routes to Schools” project, the money and subsequent massive national publicity no doubt helping to raise the awareness of what Sustrans described at the time as its ‘flagship’ route.

The scenery isn’t the only visually attractive aspect of the route. A novel feature is the C2C’s use of and often huge artworks along the way, pioneering at the time. Here’s another picture selection to demonstrate.

5. The Snowball Effect

Once something gets to such a level of popularity it tends to breed its own mouth to mouth publicity on a big scale.

How many other national cycle routes in the UK could the average leisure cyclist name – Lands End to John o’Groats very likely – but also very likely very few of the many hundreds of others unless they had specific experience of them. 

Blog Author

Richard Peace is the author of The Ultimate C2C Guide, Coast to Coast by Bike, published by his own company Excellent Books and sponsored by Sustrans.

Below is a selection of C2C maps and guide books.

For the full range, go to the C2C coast to coast section of the shop.

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Cycling in Dorset

Cycling in...

Cycling in Dorset

Below you will find sections on different aspects of cycling in Dorset:

  • Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs
  • Gentle / family bike rides
  • Cycle touring
  • Waymarked long-distance cycle routes
  • Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes
  • Cycle-friendly holiday accommodation
  • Cycling maps and guide books

Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs in Dorset

  • Bridport and West Bay, close to National Cycle Network Route 2 , the South Coast West, with a new cycle path linking West Bay and the market town of Bridport.
  • Dorchester, at the meeting point of Route 2, the South Coast West, and Route 26, Weymouth and Portland to Sherborne
  • Bournemouth and Poole, with links northwards on NCN Route 25 to Bath via Blandford Forum, and eastwards along Route 2 (note the ferry to cycle Route 2 westwards is currently closed – Summer 2019), and via Wimborne into the New Forest over the border in Hampshire
Bournemouth East Cliff - photo by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay
Bournemouth East Cliff

Gentle / family bike rides in Dorset

Dorchester to Moreton Walled Garden Café – there and back

7 miles each way, mostly flat on country lanes using National Cycle Network route 2. Take a towel if you want to paddle in the river in Moreton!

If arriving by car, park on the road near the National Trust house Max Gate, former home of Thomas Hardy. Route 2 goes past the front of the house, so if facing the house, turn right, which will take you away from the town centre. This start avoids crossing some busy roads around the town.

Then simply follow the signs.

If arriving by train, the London line arrives at Dorchester South Station, while the Bristol line stops at Dorchester West, about half a mile apart. Neither of the following starts are ideal for young families on bikes. Starting at Max Gate is much better.

From Dorchester South Station, come out of the station on to Weymouth Road (take care) turning left. Turn first left on to Maumbury Road and follow it. Route 2 will join you. From Dorchester West Station, come out of the station and down to the traffic lights. Go straight over on to Great Western Road which is NCN Route 26. Follow it and you will soon find signs for Route 2. If in doubt ask someone the way to Max Gate.

On Route 2 itself now, you will pass the gorgeous Woodsford Castle, owned by the Landmark Trust and available as a holiday home(!).

Once in Moreton you have the choice of two cafés, one in a walled garden, the other in the former school house. The river is off to the left, signposted to a ford. It’s wide, shallow and popular with families. Also in Moreton is a lovely church, really well worth a visit, and the churchyard having the grave of Lawrence of Arabia.

Map: South Coast West Sustrans map

North Dorset Trailway Route

Sturminster Newton to Blandford Forum in north east Dorset – 18 miles there and back, or 14 miles if you stop at the village of Stourpaine and cycle back from there. Part of the Bath to Bournemouth National Cycle Network Route, so the Sustrans map is ideal, and will give you ideas for other routes in the area.

This is a very easy-to-cycle former railway-line path, suitable for all ages. The route starts in Sturminster Newton by the main car park. You will cross bridges and go through woodland and past fields, great for younger families.

At the village of Stourpaine after an easy 7 miles you will fine a pub/village shop and a tearoom. Carry on another 2-3 miles and you will be in pleasant Blandford Forum, a small town with all the facilities you would expect pubs, cafés, shops, toilets, play areas, a soft play area and a swimming pool.

Cycling back is just as easy and enjoyable.

Map: Bath to Bournemouth Sustrans map

Circular cycle tours in Dorset

Bridport and Beaminster Circular Route

26 hilly miles, rewarded with great views of the Dorset Downs

This route is from a suggested day ride on the Dorset Downs Sustrans map, BUT there is an error on the map where the route starts in Bridport. The coloured route is correct, but the description is wrong. Please use the description below instead.

Bridport is a popular market town, close to the tourist attractions of West Bay and not far from Lyme Regis.

If arriving by car, park in the Wykes Court car park just off the town centre. As you come out of the car park, turn right, then second right along Victoria Grove.

Stay on that road through Pymore to a T-junction and turn right, the first of a good few hills. At the top, cross the main road carefully and take Harrison Way diagonally opposite.

The Sustrans map is correct after this, leading you through West Milton and Powerstock villages, then up Eggardon Hill. To visit the hill fort, turn right at the crossroads and cycle a couple of hundred yards to a stile on your right, where a small sign (easily missed) shows a footpath into the hill fort. Don’t go too far down. It’s a long haul back up!

Then the route goes cross country to Beaminster for a drink and rest stop!

After Beaminster you cycle through lovely Stoke Abbot into Marshwood Vale and back via Broadoak and Dottery to Bridport. West Bay is just down the road, or nearby cycle track, if you would like to extend the ride and have fish and chips by the harbour or on the beach!

Map: Dorset Downs Sustrans map

Shaftesbury – Sturminster Newton – Gillingham circular route

This is a 33-mile route in north east Dorset, taking in lovely countryside, starting and finishing in Shaftesbury, famous for the Hovis advert of a lad pushing his bike up the ridiculously steep Gold Hill and freewheeling down, legs stretched, bouncing over the cobbles.

Much of the route is flat or gently rolling, but you will take in some hills. And finish on Gold Hill. You might be pushing!

Shaftesbury - Gold Hill

You should use the Sustrans Dorset Downs map for this (or OS maps, but the Sustrans map will show you the Sustrans signposting that you can follow the whole way). Most of it is NCN Route 253 (see below), with parts of Route 25 and Route 250.

Head north out of Shaftesbury, down and down and down to Motcombe village before looping round to Gillingham. Then a hilly up and over before a pretty flat run south to Sturminster Newton for a cuppa (and a scone?).

At Sturminster Newton you join the North Dorset Trailway, signposted as NCN Route 250, a wonderful route almost entirely flat, as it uses a disused railway line. After about 3 miles turn off left onto Route 25 as far as Bedchester. Then back on NCN Route 250 to Shaftesbury.

Gold Hill awaits.

Map: Dorset Downs Sustrans Pocket-sized Map

Waymarked long-distance cycle routes in Dorset

South Coast West, NCN Route 2

This route will eventually link Land’s End and Dover. For now, it starts in Dawlish in Devon, runs through Dorset and on into the New Forest. It is well signposted, but please note: the ferry from Purbeck to Poole has been closed for the summer of 2019.

From Axminster in Devon, the route climbs steeply to cross the border into Dorset, dropping into Marshwood Vale which is relatively level, before some hills lead you to the north of Bridport to the village of Bradpole. From here, new cycle paths can lead you nearly all the way to Bridport town centre.

From Bradpole the route rises steadily and then steeply before dropping down via Shipton Gorge to the Bride Valley. After a more level stretch, there are more testing climbs to take you up and over to Dorchester via the hill fort Maiden Castle.

After that, the route is very flat via Moreton (see above) and Wool before taking to forest tracks to head for what would be the ferry to Poole (if it were running) or otherwise to lovely Studland Beach. If you are feeling fit, cycle over the hill to Swanage:

Swanage Bay - photo by diego-torres on Pixabay
Swanage Bay

Bath to Bournemouth, NCN Routes 24 and 25

An 85-mile waymarked cycle route starting in Bath and finishing on the seafront at Bournemouth.

This is a really good route, avoiding many of the major hills locally, taking in gorgeous scenery and pretty villages. It uses several off-road trails, including the long tunnel leading out of Bath and the North Dorset Trailway.

On the way you pass through Frome, Gillingham, Blandford Forum, Wimborne Minster and Poole, with the option of a detour up the hill to Shaftesbury (and down Gold Hill – think Hovis advert!).

Map: Bath to Bournemouth Sustrans map

Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes in Dorset

An excellent guide book has 33 routes in Dorset: ‘Mountain Bike Guide Dorset’

Routes include:

  • Badbury Rings & Kingston Lacy: 16Km, graded easy, an all-weather ride
  • Beaminster and the West: 20Km, graded moderate/hard with steep rolling hills
  • Maiden Castle: 16Km, graded moderate on all-weather tracks and grassy fields

Cycle-friendly Holiday Accommodation in Dorset

To be completed

The maps and guide books for cycling in Dorset

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Ride in the Steps of the Packhorses – Trails Perfect for Electric Off-road Cycling

Ancient direction post on the Roman Road at Hope Brink

The South Pennines and Peak District Off-Road Cycle Map

by Richard Peace, cycling journalist, guide book author, map designer:

Packhorse Trails were the motorways of their day
Packhorse Trails were the motorways of their day

I spent last summer riding many of the finest tracks in the South Pennines and the northern Peak District in order to produce this tough, waterproof map.

For many years, before the days of tarmac, these tracks were the motorways of their day, with incredibly hardy packhorse ponies bringing the necessities of life like salt from as far afield as Cheshire and also acting as the HGVs of the very early cotton and woollen industries in the area, still dotted with early weavers’ hamlets and villages.

Today they are the bedrock (literally in some cases) of some great off-road riding. Add in the canals of the area and you have one of the most varied, visually striking and beautiful areas in the whole of the UK for off-road riding.

Best Track Highlights from the South Pennines and Peak District Off-Road Cycle Map

Along Reddyshore Scout
Along Reddyshore Scout

Here’s my top five scenic tracks and lanes of the area (in no particular order), all detailed on the map as part of longer bike routes:

  1. Colden Clough Road – Just west of tourist magnet Heptonstall, next to Hebden Bridge, this gradually climbing broad track takes you through a wonderful ancient wooded valley then onto moorland scenery to end at a pub.
  2. Reddyshore Scout Gate – A broad, easy to ride track climbs high above the steep sided Upper Roch valley with great views down onto colourful canal boats and small rows of terraces decorating the Rochdale Canal.
  3. Pennine Bridleway – Hayfield to Rushup Edge. A great section of this well-signed National Trail. Rocky in places but plenty of broad tracks too with stunning views over to the highest point in the Peak District National Park, Kinder Scout.
  4. Hope Brink – Actually thought to be much older than packhorse trails, being marked as a Roman road on maps. Fantastic views down Edale from the old direction post at Hope Cross.
  5. Wessenden Valley – Improved by the National Trust who own large tracts of Wessenden Moor, this is now one of the best quality off-road tracks in the South Pennines and makes a wonderful descent from the moors into the attractive old mill town of Marsden.

Family ride highlights

Easy trails around the Longdendale Valley
Easy trails around the Longdendale Valley

Family ride highlights on the map include the Longdendale Trail and the Calder & Hebble Canal but there are many more.

The latter has been undergoing a scheme of surface improvements to make it even better for cycling thanks to the excellent CityConnect project.

Daunting No More

I surveyed the whole of the area using electric bikes which I also write reviews of. They mean terrain once unconquerable to someone in his mid-50s with a dodgy back and knees is now a joy to ride through. And I still get a good workout in the process.

Here’s selection of my favourite e-bikes I reviewed whilst riding the routes.

E-biking on the Pennine Bridleway heading towards Kinder Scout
  1. Riese & Muller Delite Mountain Rohloff – A no-holds barred, no expense spared full suspension e-mtb that also comes with rack and lights and a double battery, making it the best off-road e-bike I’ve tried for long distance, ride-all-day off-road e-biking.
  2. Brose Drive S Mag E-bikes – Any e-mtb with a new Brose Drive S Mag motor should give great power yet still be relatively lightweight. Here’s a comprehensive e-mtb test where it is declared winner. 
  3. Carrera Vengeance-E – Halfords own brand and great for family and easier emtb trails
  4. Riese & Muller Nevo GX – Great for older riders or anyone who struggles to get their leg over a higher top tube design. One of the very few off-road step thru e-bikes with incredibly sporty and bullet-proof performance as you would expect from this company.

Map Details

There are three main elements to the waterproof map:

South Pennines and Peak District Off-road Cycle Map
  1. A 110 mile ‘Pike to Peak’ circular ‘challenge’ route, linking the famous landmarks of Stoodley Pike near Hebden Bridge to Rushup Edge and Mam Tor in the Peak District National Park. The Pike to Peak is around 75% off-road and uses old packhorse trails and turnpike roads to take in some of the area’s most stunning scenery and attractive towns and villages. The Pike to Peak can be tackled in the form of two smaller loops to make it more manageable as it is bisected by the TPT, meaning you also have the option of two smaller loops of 78 miles and 43 miles.
  2. 14 shorter circular day rides along classic trails such as Hope Brink, Wessenden Valley, Holme Valley, Reddyshore Scout, Ladybower Reservoir and the Hope Valley. These range from 8 miles to 26 miles.
  3. 20 family trails including the Calder Valley Greenway, Longdendale Trail, Upper Don Trail, Tame Valley Trail, Huddersfield Narrow Canal, Sett Valley Trail and many more.

In compiling the map I tried to pick out the best examples of off-road riding in the area by picking out broad, rideable tracks for adventurous leisure riders (though of course being in the heart of the Pennines there are still plenty of gradients unless you choose one of the family trails on the map). The route choice is ideal for electric mountain bikers getting their first taste of the activity.

The map also features:

  • Cycle-friendly accommodation listings with a link to internet pages featuring lots more detail.
  • GPX route files – internet links that guide users to web pages where they can download GPX route files for all the rides and get more background information about the routes.

Available from all good online and high-street booksellers or direct from the publisher via

South Pennines & Peak District Off-road Cycle Map

  • ISBN: 978-1901464382
  • Folded size: 24.4 x 13.8 x 1.2 cm
  • Unfolded size: 68cm x 48cm
  • RRP £8.95
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Cycling in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Cycling in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Cycling in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Derbyshire and the Peak District have a wonderful range of cycle routes, from level (or very gently sloping) converted railway lines to wild mountain bike routes. And everything in between.

Below you will find sections on different aspects of cycling in Derbyshire and the Peak District:

  • Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs
  • Gentle / family bike rides
  • Cycle touring
  • Waymarked long-distance cycle routes
  • Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes
  • Cycle-friendly holiday accommodation
  • Cycling maps and guide books

There is an excellent range of maps and guide books to help you plan routes and to help you find your way.

Derbyshire and Peak District cycle maps and guide books

Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs in Derbyshire and the Peak District

The Peak District has all sorts of accommodation available in many parts of the National Park. The following are just three of the towns with good links to great cycling:

  • Bakewell, on the Monsal Trail and access to various road and off-road routes
  • Ashbourne, close to the Tissington Trail and other routes
  • Buxton, with country lanes leading to both of the above trails and excellent longer routes

Gentle / family bike rides in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Sustrans, the Peak District National Park authority and the local authorities have done a wonderful job in creating family-friendly cycle trails from some of the most scenic disused railway lines in the Peak District.

The Monsal Trail

The Monsal Trail
The Monsal Trail

Starting in lovely Bakewell itself, a quiet lane leads to the Monsal Trail, 8.5 miles of traffic-free cycleway. It’s very popular with cyclists of all types, especially families. There are tunnels to cycle through!

There is even a brilliant shop / cafe / bike hire shop part way along, complete with small play area at Hassop Station.

Map: The Sustrans pocket-sized Peak District map

The Tissington Trail

Starting in Ashbourne, the Tissington Trail is a 13-mile cycle trail through Dovedale. It’s not flat, but the gradients were designed for trains, so not major.

Take time to visit Herbert’s Team Rooms at Tissington Hall along the way.

The trail also joins the High Peak cycle trail, yet another former railway line, so you can extend your ride nearly all the way to Cromford, south of Matlock.

Map: Goldeneye Peak District map – Cycling Country Lanes & Traffic-free Family Routes

Ladybower Reservoir

Linacre Reservoir cycle trail
Linacre Reservoir cycle trail

The Peak District has a good number of reservoirs serving the cities and towns around the rim of the National Park. Several of them have good cycling by them.

The Ladybower Reservoir is one of the largest of the reservoirs and has a there-and-back route along one side. 7.5 miles long and undulating on first a lane and then a track, the views over the water are magnificent. Perfect for a quiet picnic part way along with the family.

Guide book: Cycling in the Peak District – Off-road Trails and Quiet Lanes

Linacre Reservoirs

Linacre Reservoir

You won’t find this short route in any guide book I have found. It’s a bit of a secret. Ssshhhh!

Just outside Chesterfield are three linked reservoirs. The bottom two have a cycle trail around them through gorgeous woods, probably only 2-3 miles long depending which way you go.

Find the car park at Woodnook Lane, Cutthorpe, S42 7AU. There is no café, but there are toilets and often an ice cream van!

Circular cycle tours in Derbyshire and the Peak District

You can choose your own routes around the National Park using either the Ordnance Survey Tour Map for the Peak District or the Sustrans pocket-sized Peak District map, or of course you can pick routes from the very good cycle guide books to the area. For Derby itself and the immediate area, the Sustrans East Midlands map covers the area.

The Buxton and Bakewell Loop

This is a 30-mile ride from Cicerone’s Cycling in the Peak District book, starting either in Buxton or at Hassop Station near Bakewell.

Mostly on quiet roads, it also includes the Monsal Trail. Highly recommended.

Guide book: Cicerone’s Cycling in the Peak District (including 21 routes on lanes and tracks)

The Chelmorton Loop

This is a 12-mile loop, partly on the High Peak Trail and then on quiet roads through the villages of Chelmorton and Monyash. There are some significant hills here. A good challenge.

(And if you want to go further, start at Ashbourne on the Tissington Trail first, before joining the High Peak Trail.)

Guide book: Cycling in the Peak District – Off-road Trails and Quiet Lanes ( including 18 routes, plus notes on family routes)

Hope, Hathersage and Edale Loop

This is a much longer loop, 44 miles, starting and finishing in Hathersage. It’s clearly marked on the excellent Goldeneye Peak District map.

Significant hills, beautiful villages, the lovely Edale Valley.

Map: Goldeneye Peak District map – Cycling Country Lanes & Traffic-free Family Routes (including 11 suggested routes, but this is a map of the whole area, so you can also design your own routes).

Bakewell and Hartington Loop

A 26-mile cycle route, again from Cicerone’s very good guide book, this is mostly on road and has some juicy hills through lovely countryside.

The ride starts in Bakewell and heads south and west, with part of the route shown for mountain-bikes only and an alternative road-bike route shown.


Guide book: Cicerone’s Cycling in the Peak District

Waymarked long-distance cycle routes in Derbyshire and the Peak District

The Pennine Cycleway South, National Cycle Network Route 68

The Pennine Cycleway starts in Derby and takes quiet lanes as far as Ashbourne. From there it joins the Tissington Trail before a road finish in Buxton. The route then heads to Glossop before crossing into Yorkshire to bypass Huddersfield, leaving our Peak District area.

Map: Pennine Cycleway South from Sustrans

The Pennine Bridleway

The Pennine Bridleway is designed for mountain bikers and horse riders. It starts at Middleton Top in the south of the region, heading north west. It bypasses Buxton in the hills and heads further north west into Lancashire.

Map: Pennine Bridleway South from Harvey

Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes in Derbyshire and the Peak District

The Peak District has of course some great mountain bike routes.

Goldeneye’s ‘Mountain Bike Routes’ map has rides from 10 to 17 miles long, beautifully mapped. Routes include the hills around Bakewell, Eyam, Buxton, Stanage and Edale.

There is also the ‘South Pennines and Peak District Off-Road Cycle Map’ from Excellent Books, designed with long-distance epic routes, day rides and 20 family-friendly off-road rides. It covers the north of the region – Hathersage northwards.

Vertebrate publish two books of off-road and mountain bike routes. Their ‘Cycling in the Peak District – Off-road Trails and Quiet Lanes’ and their ‘White Peak Mountain Biking’. The two books have very different kinds of routes, pretty much doing what they say on the tin.

For tough mountain bike routes, go for the White Peak or for Goldeneye’s map. Or both, of course.

Links to all of the above are below.

Cycle-friendly Holiday Accommodation in Derbyshire and the Peak District

Ashbourne on market day
Ashbourne on market day

This section is still to be completed.

The maps and guide books for cycling in Derbyshire and the Peak District

There is an excellent range of maps and guide books to select from.

Here is a quick preview of some of them:

They are available in the webshop, and you can link to them or put them in your basket below:

To ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ on Facebook, just hit a link below:

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Cycling in Sussex

Cycling in Sussex

Cycling in Sussex

Bike rides in Sussex can be on or off-road, by the coast or around the villages, and of course amongst the lovely South Downs. Wherever you ride, cycling in Sussex can give you great views and lovely routes.

In the page below you will find sections on:

  • Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs
  • Gentle / family bike rides
  • Circular cycle tours
  • Guide books and maps for cycle touring
  • Waymarked long-distance cycle routes
  • Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes
  • Cycle-friendly holiday accommodation
  • Cycling maps and guide books

There are also very good guide books and maps to help you plan your routes and find your way.

Sussex cycle maps and guide books

Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs in Sussex

There are many excellent places to stay in Sussex for cyclists (see below) and these are just some areas that might suit:

  • Eastbourne, with access to the Cuckoo Trail and the South Downs Way
  • Lewes, again close to the South Downs Way, but also with routes north of the South Downs and down to the sea at Brighton
  • Steyning, just north of Shoreham-by-Sea, on the South Downs Way and also the Downs Link (mostly off-road) cycle route all the way to Guildford
Sussex beach at sunset - photo by Gaby Hill on Pixabay 2

Gentle / family bike rides in Sussex

Lewes Village and the River Ouse

This is a 9.5 mile easy cycle ride close to the town of Lewes on quiet lanes or bridleways.

OR the same guide book (below) has a very short and almost off-road 2.5 mile route: “short, safe and fun”!

Guide book: Cycling in Sussex – Off-road Trails and Quiet Lanes

The Cuckoo Trail

Sussex’s Cuckoo Trail runs from Polegate just outside Eastbourne (with an extension into Eastbourne itself) all the way to Heathfield.

It’s 13.5 miles of pleasurable cycling, off-road and mostly hard-surfaced. The first section from Polegate northwards is quite flat, with a gentle climb from Hailsham to Heathfield.

Guide book: Cycling Days Out – South East England

The Centurion Way – Chichester to West Dean

5.5 miles of quite easy cycling, suitable for a family (with just a few short hills to cope with).

Lovely countryside and plenty to keep a family interested.

Guide book: Cycling Days Out – South East England

Barns Green circuit

Close to Horsham and Southwater, this is a 3-mile circuit ideal for families. Easy cycling with a play area along the way.

Guide book: Cycling in Sussex – Off-road Trails and Quiet Lanes

Circular cycle tours in Sussex

Sussex coastline - from Pixabay

There are a whole heap of great cycle tours you can do in Sussex, and excellent guide books and maps to help you choose. Here are just some of those routes:

Brighton and the South Downs

From Brighton Sea Front to Hove, then up and over the South Downs. Return route via the viewpoint at Ditchling Beacon down to the coast at Rottingdean, and back along to Brighton.

28 miles, challenging in places, but very rewarding!

Map: Sussex and South Surrey – Cycling Country Lanes and Byways, from Goldeneye Maps (including 27 cycle routes marked on a weatherproof map, ranging from 10 to 45 miles long).

Chichester and the South Downs

Chichester - photo by Ron Porter on Pixababy

30 miles, mostly on quiet lanes, with ups and downs, past fields and woodland to West Dean and back to Chichester.

The maps in the guide book below are OS maps, very detailed, with good descriptions.

Guide book: Surrey and West Sussex Cycle Tours (including 15 on-road and 5 off-road cycle tours)

Planning your own circular rides in Sussex

East Sussex bridleway

To plan your own rides in Sussex, the best maps are probably the Sustrans pocket-sized range. ‘Central Sussex and South Surrey‘ covers the bulk of West and East Sussex, while the Hampshire and the Kent Sustrans maps cover the western and eastern sides.

The ‘Central Sussex and South Surrey’ map clearly shows, for example, The Downs Link from Steyning north to Guildford plus links to Shoreham-by-Sea and along the coast to Worthing, Hove and Brighton. It also shows recommended roads for cycling the North Downs.

Waymarked long-distance cycle routes in Sussex

London to Brighton

This is the iconic London to Brighton cycle route as mapped by Sustrans using the National Cycle Network.

68 miles from a start point at Greenwich, via Redhill and Crawley using quieter roads and off-road cycleways. Finishes on the sea front at Brighton, where it meets the South Coast East

Map: London to Brighton from Sustrans

The South Coast East

From Brockenhurst in Hampshire, the South Coast East continues on from the South Coast West, through Southampton and Portsmouth to Chichester. From there it joins the coast at Bognor Regis, then takes in the sea fronts at Littlehampton, Worthing and Brighton. It continues either on the coast or near it to Seaford, Eastbourne, Bexhill and Hastings, with Dover its final destination.

Map: South Coast East from Sustrans

Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes in Sussex

South Downs by Jonathan Hall from Pixabay 2

The South Downs Way is cycling-permitted for its entire 100 mile length from Winchester to Eastbourne.

You will need a mountain bike rather than a road bike of course, and be comfortable with some hills.

Given those, the scenery is majestic.

Link to National Trails South Downs Way web page.

Shorter rides, some of them not so steep, are also available!

Guide book: Mountain Biking on the South Downs

Cycle-friendly Holiday Accommodation in Sussex

Brighton Pier by Sally Wynn from Pixabay 2

This section is still to be completed.

The maps and guide books for cycling in Sussex

West and East Sussex are very well served by cycle maps and guide books.

Here is a quick preview of some of them:

They are available from Bike Ride Maps shop here:

Photo attributions:

  • ‘Sussex’ photo by Sam Knight, from Unsplash
  • ‘Sussex beach at sunset’ – photo by Gaby Hill on Pixabay
  • ‘Sussex coastline’ – from Pixabay
  • ‘Chichester’ – photo by Ron Porter on Pixababy
  • ‘East Sussex bridleway’ – photo from Pixabay Lin52
  • ‘South Downs’ – photo by Jonathan Hall from Pixabay
  • Brighton Pier’ – photo by Sally Wynn from Pixabay

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Cycling in the Lake District and Cumbria

Cycling past Buttermere

Cycling in the Lake District and Cumbria

Walking, running and cycling in the Lake District and Cumbria. What could be better?

The English Lake District is perfect for outdoors folk, and – while better known for the hill-walking and running – is ever more a destination for cyclists. Of course, there are hills in the Lake District. Some quite big ones really.

So if you are a cyclist who likes a challenge, that’s great! Plenty to offer.

If you prefer flatter routes, those exist as well, particularly in parts of Cumbria just outside the Lake District itself. You just need to know where they are!

There are a number of cycle maps and guide books to help, and I have some suggestions of different types of routes below, along with the map or guide book that would help you plan your route and find your way.

Where to cycle in the Lake District and Cumbria? The maps and guide books available.

Below you will find sections on different aspects of cycling in the Lake District and Cumbria:

  • Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs
  • Gentle / family bike rides
  • Cycle touring
  • Waymarked long-distance cycle routes
  • Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes
  • Cycling maps and guide books
  • Cycle-friendly holiday accommodation

Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs in the Lake District and Cumbria

If you are bringing bikes by car, there are all sorts of places in Cumbria and the Lake District that welcome bikes. See below for some suggestions.

I’ve also chosen three possible hubs:

  • Keswick, for some challenging and adventurous touring, access to the coast and to the C2C cycle route, and close to Whinlatter Forest for mountain bike trails
  • Ambleside, as above, but also with Grizedale Forest and its range of ability trails and the Langdale valleys not far away
  • Grange-over-Sands, with access to flatter cycle routes suitable for families, and reachable by rail

Cycle-friendly Holiday Accommodation in the Lake District and Cumbria

Gentle / family bike rides in the Lake District and Cumbria

When you open a map of the Lake District itself, one thing you tend to notice is the lack of flat land and therefore flat roads suitable for gentle or family cycle rides. You tend to have to look around the outside of the Lake District National Park for cycle rides for young families.

Grange-over-Sands to Town End


Just outside the Lake District National Park, Grange-over-Sands is a really nice little town sitting on the Morecambe Bay estuary. From Grange-over-Sands a five-mile cycle along the quietest of country lanes brings you to the village of Town End (which has a pub for refreshments).

This is a gorgeous ride, thoroughly recommended.

Start off on quite a busy road (so take great care) but very shortly turn right on to the quiet lanes. Then just follow the Sustrans signs until you get to Town End.

Map: This is part of The Bay Cycle Way route, so the Sustrans Bay Cycle Way map is ideal.

Maryport to Allonby cycle route

This is an almost entirely traffic-free and flat cycle route hugging the shoreline on Cumbria’s west coast for about 6 miles.

Starting from the car park outside Maryport’s Lake District Coast Aquarium (which also has a café and toilets), cross over the bridge back towards town and immediately turn left. For the first couple of hundred yards you will be on a road, but then the road stops and instead you can ride traffic-free on the old promenade for half a mile.

Then cycle out through Maryport Golf Club and crossing a road (so take care of little ones here) and you are on to the cycleway. For about three miles you are on the east side of the road, before the cycleway crosses the road again (take care…) and is right next to the sea for the last 2-3 miles into the village of Allonby. The village has a café, shop and play area.

Map: This is part of Hadrian’s Cycleway (from Ravenglass to South Shields, so the Sustrans Hadrian’s Cycleway map is ideal, also giving other family friendly route ideas.

Grizedale Forest

The Forestry Commission’s Grizedale Forest lies between the shores of Windermere on the east and the village of Hawkshead on the west.

There are several waymarked cycle trails on forest roads, some short and quite flat, others longer and more of a challenge.

Of course, there are also real mountain-bike trails as well, so potentially something for all the family.

Have a look at their website to see if it is for you:

The Solway coast

Cumbria’s northern peninsula is some distance from the Lake District National Park, and the scenery is very different to the mountains of the Lakes. It is flat! This is a 14-mile ride, and for much of the time you will be looking across the Solway Firth estuary to Scotland.

Park a car at Anthorn, a small village next to the river and cycle west along quiet country lanes.

The route follows the shoreline for about ten miles, stopping at the Solway Wetlands Centre near Bowness-on-Solway for a well-deserved cup of something (and maybe a tour of the RSPB site).

Then turn right at Glasson to cut across the peninsula for another four miles to bring you to the village of Whitrigg, where you turn right again to cycle back to Anthorn.

The coastal sections of the route are part of Hadrian’s Cycleway, so the Sustrans Hadrian’s Cycleway map is perfect.

Keswick on the old railway track

This would have been the first family-friendly cycle route to mention, but unfortunately the bridges crossing the river were washed away in 2015 and have yet to be restored. So there is just a short section open now, about a mile long.

This is (was) part of the C2C route, so Sustrans and the council are in discussion about how to replace the bridges so that you can cycle traffic-free to the village of Threlkeld, but they have not been replaced as yet.

It still makes a nice (but short) ride, including an incline out of Keswick, then a descent under the main road before coming to a halt at what would have been the first river crossing.

Map: you probably don’t need one. Park at the swimming pool and cycle out along the cycle path next to what was Keswick Railway Station. Cycle as far as you can go. Stop and look at the incredible damage that the flood water did to the bridge and the river banks. Maybe have drink and a picnic next to the river. And then cycle back again.

Cycle touring in the Lake District

There are two very good guide books for cycle touring in the Lake District and Cumbria, or you can use the cycling maps from Sustrans or the Ordnance Survey Tour Map to create your own cycle routes. You might also choose to read ‘A Lake District Grand Tour’ of which more below.

Lake District cycling

Suggested routes from Keswick

Circuit of the Skiddaw and Blencathra ranges

33/34 miles and ‘strenuous’. Fantastic views and mostly quiet lanes until the last section back into Keswick.

Park in Keswick (or hire a bike there), heading out on the C2C cycle route to Threlkeld. Follow signs to Mungrisdale then Caldbeck (excellent pub here with its own brewery). Then follow signs to Bassenthwaite, before following the main road (though not too busy) back to Keswick.

Both the CycleCity and Cicerone guide books give good descriptions and maps. See below. Or use the Sustrans or OS Tour map.

Other suggested cycle routes from Keswick:

Crummock Water

See the Sustrans South Cumbria and the Lake District map to follow these routes.

  • Over Whinlatter Pass to Lorton, past Crummock Water and Buttermere, back via Honister Pass and Derwentwater. Very challenging.
  • Cycling to Ambleside via Castlerigg Stone Circle, Thirlmere, Grasmere and Red Bank
  • The circuit of Derwentwater. Take care on busy days down the east side of the lake.
  • Over Whinlatter Pass to Lorton, Cockermouth and the reverse of the Workington branch of the C2C

Suggested cycle routes from Ambleside

Ambleside, Ullswater, Thirlmere and Grasmere circuit

41 hard miles according to the Cicerone guide book (below), but well worth it if the legs and lungs will stand it.

The route starts in Ambleside heading very steeply up The Struggle and over the rock-strewn Kirkstone Pass. Then drops beautifully down to Ullswater, following the lakeshore before climbing up again northwards.

Quiet lanes then take you to Threlkeld (choice of pubs available) and then drop you down on to the St Johns in the Vale road (B5322). Cross over the main Keswick-Ambleside road to ride round the very quiet western side of Thirlmere. Then join the new cycle track that avoids climbing Dunmail Raise on the main road. From there you can either fly down towards Grasmere on the main road, or cut off on small lanes.

Don’t use the main road from Grasmere to Ambleside (which is very busy and unpleasant) if you still have the legs for a climb up the challenging Red Bank to bring you back to Ambleside on the Hawkshead road.

Other cycle routes from Ambleside

Cycling in Langdale
Cycling in Langdale

These probably best followed using the Sustrans South Cumbria and the Lake District map:

  • Head west out of Ambleside into Little Langdale. Up and over to Great Langdale. Return via Elterwater and Skelwith Bridge.
  • Again head west from Ambleside, turning south for Coniston. Cycle down the east side of Lake Coniston, then turn back north to follow the lanes through Grizedale Forest (including a stop at the café) and into Hawkshead. Back from there in many places off-road.

Suggested cycle routes from Grange-over-Sands

Circuit of Whitbarrow

This is a 29-mile fairly tough route from Cicerone’s guide book Cycling in the Lake District (see below).

Heading east out of Grange-over-Sands towards the village of Town End the going is straightforward and quite level, at least as far as Levens.

Pedalling north from there in a big loop brings you back to Town End in a figure-of-eight. But then you head for delightful Cartmel. Don’t forget to stop for some refreshment here. The sticky toffee pudding is legendary!

After that, it’s really not that far back to Grange – just enough to shake your pudding down.

Guide book: Cicerone’s Cycling in the Lake District

Other cycle routes from Grange-over-Sands

  • The Bay Cycleway to Dalton-in-Furness (and the train back?)
  • The Bay Cycleway to Carnforth (and the train back?)
  • Circuit of Coniston Water via Grizedale Forest
  • Broughton-in-Furness to Eskdale, over the Hardknott Pass and back via Coniston – a challenge this one

Guide books for cycle touring in the Lake District and Cumbria

Cicerone’s Cycling in the Lake District

The guide book begins with a tour of the Lake District over several days. It’s challenging, of course, but then this is the Lake District! The book then has day rides, many of which are again quite challenging, though some less so. Rides include:

  • Ambleside to Eskdale and back the long way round
  • Penrith to Haweswater
  • A circuit of Skiddaw from Keswick via Caldbeck

Cycle Tours in and around the Lake District‘ from CycleCity in association with Ordnance Survey

Using excellent Ordnance Survey mapping, the guide book has 20 cycle tour descriptions, the length varying from 24 to 35 miles. Each graded from Easy to Strenuous. Rides include:

  • Keswick and Newlands – 26 miles, strenuous
  • Ring around Kendal – 33 miles, moderate
  • Grasmere and Coniston – 25 miles, strenuous

Planning your own circular rides in the Lake District and Cumbria

You have the choice of either Ordnance Survey or Sustrans cycle maps to plan and ride your own tours of the Lake District and Cumbria.

  • Sustrans South Cumbria and the Lake District pocket cycle map
  • Sustrans North Cumbria and Dumfries pocket cycle map
  • Ordnance Survey Tour Map of the Lake District and Cumbria

Waymarked long-distance cycle routes in Cumbria and the Lake District

The C2C coast to coast cycle route

For full information on the route, see the C2C page here.

Hadrian’s Cycleway

Normally an east to west cycle route, Hadrian’s Cycleway follows a route within Cumbria from Carlisle down the west to coast to Ravenglass.

The Reivers Route

Originally intended as a reverse C2C route, the Reivers Route is a very good ride in its own right.

Within Cumbria, the Reivers Route map brings you south from Carlisle to Caldbeck, skirting the northern fells to Cockermouth. From there it reaches the coast at Workington, then follows down the coast on mostly off-road routes to the start point of the C2C in Whitehaven.

Walney to Wear

Walney to Wear is an excellent long-distance waymarked ride (one of my top five in fact), but unfortunately the map is out of print. It can be followed using Sustrans maps. For more information on which, go to the Walney to Wear page.

The route runs within Cumbria from Walney Island near Barrow-in-Furness around the southern coastline of Cumbria to Kendal, then across the quieter reaches of eastern Cumbria before setting off through the Pennines.

The Bay Cycleway

Cartmel, on the Bay Cycle Way route

This a newer cycle route, again starting near Barrow, but doing a loop around Morecambe Bay, ending in Morecambe / Lancaster.

It is a great route, much of it quite flat – but not all if it, so do take a look at where the contours are on the Bay Cycle Way map before you start!

And take time out to visit Cartmel.

Tour of the Lake District

A Lake District Grand Tour
A Lake District Grand Tour

There are several ways to do a grand tour of the Lake District. You can use the excellent Cicerone Cycling in the Lake District guide book.

Or you can use the Sustrans and OS Tour maps to make your own route, just as I did to write “A Lake District Grand Tour“, which is not a guide book at all.

It’s more a humorous tale of taking on a challenge to cycle over all of the passes, to see all of the lakes, and to go to the furthest north, south, east and west points of the Lake District National Park.

This is one hell of way to see the Lake District National Park! A great description of the grandest of Lake District tours. Get pedalling!’ wrote the Chief Exec of the National Park (no less).

Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes in the Lake District

There are both wild and structured mountain bike routes in the area.

For structured routes, go to Whinlatter Forest, west of Keswick, and Grizedale Forest south of Hawkshead, both with excellent mountain bike routes in Forestry Commission woodland.

There are two main options for maps and guide books for more wild mountain biking.

Goldeneye’s Lake District Mountain Bike Routes has ten routes printed on a very robust waterproof map, and shown very distinctly and clearly.

Five of the routes are centred on Keswick, the others spread around the area. They are extremely good routes, worked out by the experienced Al Churcher.

Routes include The Skiddaw Round and Around Blencathra, the Watendlath and Honister Circuit, and Eskdale.

The other option is Lake District Mountain Biking – Essential Trails, published by Vertebrate Publishing.

In the form of a book rather than a map, it details 27 routes, splitting them into Classics, Epics, Enduros and Killers!

Routes include High Street, Borrowdale and Skiddaw.

The maps and guide books for cycling in Cumbria and the Lake District

Previews of some of the maps and guide books below:

All available from the Bike Ride Maps webshop:

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Cycling in Devon

Cycling in Devon

There is no doubt that cycling in Devon can be a joy.

The county has some fabulous cycle routes, taking in the South Devon coast with its estuaries, beaches and resorts and the North Devon coast with its coves and hills and of course more beaches.

Then there are the cycling and mountain-biking / off-road possibilities on or around Dartmoor and Exmoor.

Devon’s cycle routes include shorter and medium-length circular routes, whether family rides or more challenging ones, as well as long-distance signed Sustrans routes for cycle touring.

Devon bay - photo by Diego Torres on Pixabay

Below you will find sections on different aspects of cycling in Devon:

  • Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs
  • Gentle / family bike rides
  • Circular cycle tours
  • Guide books and maps for cycle touring
  • Waymarked long-distance cycle routes
  • Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes
  • Cycle-friendly holiday accommodation
  • Cycling maps and guide books

There are excellent maps and guide books to those routes as well, with maps from Sustrans, Ordnance Survey (the OS Tour series), Harvey Maps and Goldeneye Maps, plus guide books for the
Devon Coast to Coast cycle route.

All the maps are listed at the bottom of the page here, or you can click on a green link to go direct to them in the Bike Ride Maps shop.

Where to cycle in Devon? The maps and guide books available.

So whether you are local to Devon, or planning a cycling holiday in Devon, I hope the following helps.

Suggested cycle touring and cycling holiday hubs in Devon

There are some towns or areas that to my mind lend themselves to being the hub of a cycling holiday in Devon.

  • Tavistock, with access to Drake’s Trail and the Granite Trail, plus Dartmoor and to the Plym Valley. Cycling distance to Sir Francis Drake’s house.
  • Barnstaple, on the Tarka Trail and in cycling distance to the beaches on the north coast such as Woolacombe
  • Salcombe, to explore the estuaries and beaches of south Devon

Gentle / family bike rides in Devon

The Exe estuary

Exeter to Exmouth (and back)

Starting by the river in Exeter, this is a flat ride of about 8 miles each way, with continuous interest along the way.

The route mostly follows the estuary shoreline, nipping through fascinating Topsham with a finish in Exmouth for a drink and a snack, before setting off back to Exeter.

Map: Sustrans South Coast West

Exeter to Dawlish Warren Nature Reserve (and back)

Just as flat as the above ride, this follows the western side of the Exe Estuary from Exeter to Dawlish Warren National Nature Reserve.

Dawlish Warren - photo by Anthony - InspiredImages - on Pixabay

Start by the river in Exeter, and use the map to lead you over to the western side, then just follow the water!

Map: Sustrans South Coast West

Drake’s Trail in the Plym Valley

Drakes's Trail

Park at Plym Valley Railway and cycle north along Drake’s Trail.

The very gently climbing route follows disused a railway line as far as the hamlet of Clearbrook, about 6 miles, taking in viaducts and tunnels along the way. Younger families may choose to turn around at this point.

Beyond Clearbrook, there are short sections on the road to Yelverton and beyond to Tavistock. The town of Tavistock has lots of interest, so make time to stop and wander around. Plenty of tea shops as well…

Tavistock also makes an excellent cycling hub as well, if you are looking for somewhere to stay over and have a range of cycling routes on the doorstep, plus of course walks on Dartmoor. (See cycling hub suggestions below).

Map: Sustrans Devon Coast to Coast

The Tarka Trail

Perhaps the most well-known of the day rides in the West Country, the Tarka Trail justifies its billing as an accessible ride for almost any cyclist.

It is an excellent off-road and mostly flat ride from / to Barnstaple and the old railway station (café) close to Great Torrington. It is about 14 miles altogether, each way.

If you are cycling from Barnstaple, signs take you beyond the roads around the town and quickly onto the old railway line / now cycleway that parallels the estuary of the River Taw. It’s very easy and pleasant cycling.

At the village of Instow the Taw meets the estuary of the Torridge, and across the far side you will see Appledore. Carry on and you come to Bideford’s village east of the Torridge: East-the-Water. For those wanting a short ride, you can walk across to Bideford’s town centre just on the far side of the bridge (note – this is the second bridge you come to, not the first, which is the main A39).

After Bideford, the estuary turns into river, with the Tarka Trail criss-crossing through lovely countryside perfect for otters (after all, the route is named after Tarka the Otter, written and set just here).

Just short of Great Torrington is a café as part of the old railway station, which can be a good place for a break before the return journey. Great Torrington itself is up a very considerable hill, a nice place, but you will need good lungs going up.

The return journey to Barnstaple is just as pleasant. Look out for otters…

Of course, you can also cycle the other way out of Barnstaple. Five miles away, hugging the northern side of the Taw estuary, the cycleway leads to Braunton,

Map: Sustrans Devon Coast to Coast

Stover Trail

This is a short off-road and flat cycle route between Bovey Tracey and Newton Abbot. Ideal for families, with cafés and facilities in both towns.

Just 3 1/2 miles (each way) so can be achieved by smaller children.

There is an overview of this and the other routes on the Explore Devon website.

Map: Harvey’s Dartmoor and Surrounding Areas for Cyclists

Circular cycle tours in Devon

Circuit of Dartmoor

How about a grand tour of Dartmoor?

What a challenge.

And there is the perfect map for planning your route: Harvey’s Dartmoor and Surrounding Areas for Cyclists

The map has suggested road cycling on one side, and on the reverse has off-road and mountain-biking routes.

Circular day rides in South Devon and around Dartmoor

Cycling on Dartmoor

There are great day rides shown on Goldeneye’s Dartmoor and South Devon – Cycling Country Lanes and Traffic-free Family Routes including routes from:

  • Crediton
  • Bovey Tracey
  • Buckfastleigh
  • Okehampton
  • Tavistock
  • Ivybridge
  • Totnes
  • Kingsbridge

The routes are marked on Goldeneye’s robust waterproof map and have brief descriptions of the type route. For example, from Ivybridge there is the “Southern Edge of Dartmoor“, 29Km/18miles through South Brent, Avonwick, Ugborough and back to Ivybridge. “A quiet route with long, easy sections between few steep climbs.” The mapping is very clear and easy to follow.

The distances are 13 to 25 miles, but you can also join routes together to create longer ones.

So as not to be too bulky, one side has south Devon and the southern half of Dartmoor, while the other side has the northern half.

Circular day rides in North Devon and around Exmoor

Day rides in North Devon and Exmoor are covered in Goldeneye’s Exmoor North Devon – Cycling Country Lanes and Traffic-free Family Routes including cycle routes from:

  • Barnstaple
  • Ilfracombe
  • Braunton
  • South Molton
  • Simonsbath
  • Dulverton
  • Tiverton
  • Dunster
  • Minehead

Again, the mapping is very clear, the distances generally from 18 to 35 miles, some with options for longer or shorter versions.

Planning your own circular rides in Devon

If you want to plan your own circular cycle routes around Devon, you can either go for the large OS Tour Map of Devon and West Somerset. Or two smaller maps – the Sustrans North Devon Cycle Map (3) and the Sustrans South Devon Cycle Map (2).

The OS Tour map is great for planning long rides, if a bit cumbersome to use en-route. It’s also not printed on weather-proof paper.

Sustrans are in process of upgrading the weatherproof-ness of their maps and are of a size to fit in a pocket as you go.

As I write, the North Devon cycle map is on thin-ish paper, while South Devon has been upgraded to tougher paper. Both have National Cycle Network routes very well marked, plus other recommended roads suitable for cycling.

On the reverse, the Sustrans maps have detailed maps of routes through major towns plus suggestions for day rides – some quite challenging ones.

Waymarked long-distance cycle routes in Devon

The Devon Coast to Coast

Ilfracombe - the start of the Devon Coast to Coast
Ilfracombe – the start of the Devon Coast to Coast

The Devon C2C cycle route is one of the best fully signed Sustrans National Cycle Network routes.

At 99 miles, it is normally ridden over two or three days, though side trips to Dartmoor or Sir Francis Drake’s house can make for a longer journey.

It starts at Ilfracombe on Devon’s gorgeous north coast with some up and overs to Barnstaple.

From there it follows the Tarka Trail inland and then the Granite Way from Okehampton to Lydford on to the fringes of Dartmoor. At Tavistock the route joins Drake’s Trail (above) gently dropping towards Plymouth.

Much of the route is on disused railway lines, so the gradients are generally very kind.

The end of the Devon C2C is on the iconic Plymouth Hoe.

Map: Sustrans Devon Coast to Coast. Guide Books: two available – from Excellent Books and from Eos Cycling.

The South Coast West

The new(ish) Sustrans South Coast West map is a linear route starting at Dawlish close to the resorts of the Devon Riviera and heading east, eventually joining with the South Coast East map with its finish in Kent.

For the Devon cyclist, the main interest is the routes to and from Exeter as far as the county boundary just beyond Seaton.

It is an excellent map for those routes.

Mountain biking / off-road cycle routes in Devon

Dartmoor and Exmoor offer some great off-road riding, some of it relatively easy, other sections more challenging.

The Harvey “Dartmoor and surrounding area for cyclists for off-road cycling and cycle touring” is of course extremely well mapped.

It shows the whole of Dartmoor rather than just specific routes, so you can easily create your own plan.

That does make for quite a large map, good for planning of course, slightly less manageable when you are riding, but it depends what you are looking for. (You can always get both…)

Support the local businesses

And don’t forget to support the local businesses. One way or another.


Now is it cream then jam, or jam then cream?

Cycle-friendly Holiday Accommodation in Devon

Devon is of course a great place to go on holiday, especially with a bike. The following are particularly happy to welcome cyclists.

This section is still to be completed.

The maps and guide books for cycling in Devon

Here are some previews of the cycle maps and guide books for Devon:

You can order any of the maps and guide books below from the Bike Ride Maps webshop:

For map and guide book postage rates, see below.

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The best cycle route to Ardrossan from Inverness

Some hints on a route through western Scotland that sounds very, very good – from John A in Ardrossan:

The best cycle route to Ardrossan from Inverness

Take the A862, then hang a left on to the A833, that comes out at Drumnadrochit, halfway down Loch Ness. This avoids the very busy A82. Then link up with a trail at Strone to Invermoriston & join the Great Glen there. This off road route will take you all the way to Fort William, avoiding the manic A82 & possible road rage.

In Fort William there’s a new Travel Lodge, with Brewers Fayre below, superb value. From Fort William head south on the A82 for around 14 miles, then take the A828 to North Connel, then A85 to Oban, so you only suffer The A82 for 14 miles.

From Oban head south on the A816 & I recommend booking ahead at the Kilmartin Hotel, very friendly & good value. From Kilmartin it’s only 50 miles to Ardrossan via Arran, 2 ferries, 1 from Claonaig to Lochranza & the other from Brodick to Ardrossan, hey presto, great trip.

Distance for this route is around 200 miles of breath taking scenery, well worth the effort.

Hope this info can be of benefit to fellow cyclists – enjoy!

John, Ardrossan