The UK is the perfect place for a cycling weekend. Whether along the coastal paths of Devon, through the undulating woodlands of the Brecon Beacons or the hills of the Lake District, you’ll find every type of route you could wish for. And with incredible places to stay and country pubs, why would you want to be anywhere else? Another advantage of staying in the UK to get your weekend cycling fix is that you can still be back in the office on Monday morning. David Bavin of the cycling website DirtyWknd tells us about some of his favourite places for a weekend cycling break.
If you’re after some of the best cycling in the southeast then head to the garden of England and Tunbridge Wells. The town is only 45 minutes by train from London so easy to do in a weekend, and the Kent hills offer much in the way of reward. With Sevenoaks, Ashdown Forest (inspiration for Winnie the Pooh’s 100 Acre Wood) and the High Weald AONB surrounding the town, there is an endless supply of routes and rides. Kent also happens to be littered with castles and country homes, with Scotney Castle, Penshurst Place and Knole House all within cycling distance. The town itself is an Edwardian spa retreat, with plenty of places to eat and drink in the Pantiles and old High Street. Make sure to drop into The Velo House, one the best cycling cafés and shops in the southeast, for coffee and cake. Stay at Sunninglye Farm on the outskirts of town for a unique rural retreat.
Cyclist or not, Bath is a fantastic place to visit: the Roman ruins, vibrant town centre and nightlife alone are worth the trip. It just so happens that the city is surrounded by excellent cycling routes, with The Cotswolds to the north and the Mendips to the south. You can cycle out to Cheddar Gorge and back in half a day, or head east to the beautiful villages of Bradford-on-Avon and Castle Combe. Whichever direction you ride in, you’ll find quiet country roads, picturesque villages and inviting country pubs, and there are plenty of cool places to stay in the centre of Bath to make the most of the small but vibrant city. The Halcyon is reasonably priced, very centrally located and has space for bicycles.
The Peak District
The Peak District is one of the most beautiful and famous parts of the UK, yet its remoteness and tranquillity often come as a surpise to the uninitiated. As the area is a hot spot for cyclists and walkers, and the roads can be gloriously car-free. Add to that incredible climbs, quiet country lanes and some picture-perfect villages and you’ve got a weekend cycling paradise. As with all the best cycling areas, and as the name suggests, it’s pretty hilly! Stay in Hope Valley for beautiful villages, and cracking climbs; YHA Castleton Losehill Hall is the perfect accommodation – spacious, well situated, and, at £25 a night, an absolute bargain!
Wales offers so much to the cyclist, from breathtaking coastal paths to leg-burning ascents. With climbs like ‘Devil’s Staircase’ and ‘Hellfire Pass’, you can be sure that Wales isn’t exactly flat. The Brecon Beacons offers all this and more to titillate all manner of cyclist. Whether you want a relaxing day riding gently by rolling fields and woods, or an epic day testing yourself on undulating, rugged terrain, you can find it all in the Beacons. The area is close enough to Cardiff and the M4 for easy transport from London or Bristol, and The Felin Fach Griffin is an excellent pub with rooms that is perfectly situated to explore all the Beacons have to offer,
The Isle Of Arran
The Scots often call Arran ‘Scotland in miniature’ both because of its top heavy profile and its geography: the Island is flat (well, flat for Scotland) in the south, and mountainous in the north, so there’s something for everyone, making it the perfect island to visit in a weekend. It's a short drive and ferry journey from Glasgow, so you can maximise your cycling time on the island. There are plenty of excellent routes to choose from, whether you cycle the outer ring (literally a road around the edge of the island), or take one of the tiny roads through the interior. Stay close to Brodick so you can jump on/off the ferry and straight into the saddle. Lamlash, a short drive from Brodick, and specifically Arran Apartments offers the perfect cycling accommodation and base from which to explore.
Go to DirtyWknd to find great cycling routes, ideas for weekend trips and like-minded people to explore the British countryside with. You can also follow David, Emma and their chums on Facebook and Twitter.