What can possibly be better than dragging the kids away from their various electronic devices and spending some time out in the open air together. So, why not take the family out for a drop of fresh air? To help with this we have put together our pick of the best traffic free rides – rides out for all the family.
Each of the rides is easy enough for riders of all ages and experience to complete with ease. They are also pretty much traffic free for their entirety. Should the ride be one of the longer distances then it can easily be cut into shorter sections.
North Yorkshire – Riccall to York
Distance: 10 miles
Finish: York Minster
National Cycle Network: Route 65
Sustrans route number 65 is a gentle ride through the flat and fertile farmland of North Yorkshire. The route culminates in a lovely riverside ride through the picturesque Rowntree Park which runs along the banks of the River Ouse. The park was gifted to the people of York by renowned confectioners the Rowntree family in 1921. Take the time to explore the beautiful and historic city of York and visitsome of the many attractions that include the National Railway Museum, Jorvik Viking centre as well as much, much more.
South West – The Camel Trail
Distance: Up to 18 miles (variable)
Start: Wenford Bridge
Finish: Padstow via Bodmin
National Cycle Network: Route 32
The Camel trail wends it’s way mostly along the long disused London and South West railway line and is one of the most popular recreational routes in the UK. The full route is 18 miles long and passes through the wooded upper reaches of the Camel Valley and alongside the picturesque Camel Estuary. The surface is mainly gravel and is mainly traffic free for most of it’s length.
The route also offers excellent opportunities to see Otters, Bats, Dormice, and many types of birds and wild marsh flowers. Should the full 18 miles be a little too imposing shorter routes can be completed; Padstow to Wadebridge is 5.5 miles, Wadebridge to Bodmin is 5.75 miles and Bodmin to Wenfordbridge is 6.25 miles.
Lancashire – Lune Valley Trail
Distance: 5 miles
Start: Lancaster Millennium Bridge
Finish: Bull Beck Picnic Site
National Cycle Network: Routes 69 and 90
Alongside the lake district, the Lune Valley held a very special place in the heart of the poet William Wordsworth. One of the reasons for his affinity with this spectacular route is the Crook O’Lune, a dramatic kink in the course of the Lune river. It also served as inspiration for the artist J M W Turner and features in his paintings. If the valley itself is not spectacular enough by itself, you also have sensational views of the Lake District to the North, plus the Yorkshire Dales and Ingleborough to the East.
North East – Consett & Sunderland Railway
Distance: Up to 26 miles (variable)
Start: Lydgett’s Junction, Consett
Finish: Roker Beach, Sunderland
National Cycle Network: Route 7
The route takes you along the line of Britains first commercial railway, the Stanhope and Tyne railway which finally closed in 1985. The route to Roker Beach passes Sunderland FC’s Stadium Of Light along the riverside, through the marina and follows an art trail to the beach at Roker. Along the way there is plenty to take in as well as enjoying the scenery and fresh air. Beamish Open Air Museum brings history to life and here you can visit the colliery, 19th century manor house, Edwardian town and railway station.
For the bird watchers amongst you, there is also the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust Centre at Washington. With many birds in residence and depending upon the time of year migratory birds resting here the reserve is always a mecca for and aspiring ornithologists.
If the complete ride is a little length then simply ride one of these sections instead;
- Consett to Beamish 10.5 miles
- Beamish to Washington 7.5 miles
- Washington to Sunderland 8 miles
South East – Cuckoo Trail, East Sussex
Distance: 11 miles
Start: School Lane, Polegate
Finish: High Street, Heathfield
National Cycle Network: Route 21
The route follows the line of the Old Cuckoo Railway and climbs gently through the Cuckmere Valley. The railway and trail are so named after the old Sussex tradition of releasing a Cuckoo at the Heathfield fair. It travels through a terrain of broadleaf woodland, arable farmland and open grassland and takes in some lovely little villages along the way.
There are also dramatic sculptures hewn from Oak trees which were felled by the great storm of 1987. These were carved by the artist and sculptor Steve Geliot, there are also metal sculptures by the local artist Hamish Black. Close by Hailsham, is the historic Michelham Priory, set within 7 acres of beautiful gardens and surrounded by the longest water filled moat in England, which dates back to 1299. Here you can learn about the history of the Priory from it’s Augustinian roots right the way through to it being a refuge for WWII evacuees.
Northern Ireland – Comber Greenway
Distance: 7 miles
Start: Dee Street, East Belfast
National Cycle Network: Route 99
Opened in November 2008 the Comber Greenway is a popular choice with walkers and cyclist alike, this tranquil traffic free route wends its way along the old Belfast to Comber railway line. It features views of Belfast’s past and present history, which includes amongst others, Stormont, Scrabo Tower, the Harland & Wolff shipyards and the Belfast Hills.
Scotland – Aviemore to Boat of Garten
Distance: 6 miles
Start: Just North of Aviemore railway station
Finish: Boat of Garten
National Cycle Network: Route 7
A popular choice for bird watchers and steam train enthusiasts alike, this easy to ride route takes the same scenic route as the Strathspey Steam Railway. The trail crosses heather covered grassland and affords spectacular views of the Cairngorms. There is also ample opportunity to view the local wildlife including amongst others, Red Squirrels, Ospreys and Tree Pipits.
As the path stays within close proximity to the steam railway you can expect to see and hear the odd tantalising glimpse of these steam locomotives puffing down the track. As an added bonus and attraction, you can even choose to take the steam train back to the start.
There are numerous visitor attractions along the way which include;
- Aviemore Centre
- Rothiemurchus Visitor Centre
- The Strathspey Steam Railway
- Loch Garten Osprey Centre
Wales – Mawddach Trail
Distance: 9 miles
Start: Main Car Pack, Dolgellau
National Cycle Network: National Route 8
This gravel/tarmac trails is one of the most scenic in Wales and follows the old railway line between Barmouth and Ruabon which closed in 1965. To the North are hills rising to over 200ft and the trail crosses over 2 wooden bridges. You encounter the first which is a toll bridge at Penmaenpool and the 2nd is the combined pedestrian, cyclist and railway bridge into Barmouth. On the latter you look directly down beneath your feet to the sea below!
Along the route is the Mawddach Valley – Arthog Bog RSPB reserve which uses the old signal box as an observation centre. Refreshment may also be found in Penmaenpool at the George the Third Hotel and is especially popular with walkers and cyclists for coffees, lunches and teas.
Need a bike for those leisurely rides and commutes? Check out the hybrid range guide here.
Ribble Electric Bikes- What do they offer? Find out here.