The British landscape is one of the most diverse in the world - rolling hills, challenging mountains, tree-shaded country lanes, you name it, we've got it. Then of course there's those world-famous cities that just have to be explored. What easier way to get about and take it all in than atop 2 wheels? We look at 5 cycle rides you can take to get a real flavour of the UK.
1. Follow The Grand Tour
See if you can climb the same Yorkshire hills that the champion cyclists did in the Tour de France. Don’t be fooled by the quaintly named Buttertubs Pass – this classic route can be approached from either side and connects Hawes in Wensleydale to Muker in Swaledale. From either direction expect a long climb with some steep sections, but you will surely be rewarded with the beautiful open moorland. The ‘Buttertubs’ in case you’re wondering are a series of open shafts near the summit into which local farmers would lower their butter and cheese to keep them cool.
2. A regal ride
Ah, what gentler way to absorb the English scenery than pedalling along on a vintage bicycle? These bikes are designed with comfort in mind, with comfy leather saddles and the single gear proves how undemanding the routes are. You’ll follow a delightful riverside route and arrive at Hampton Court Palace in style. All you need is to pop your packed lunch and camera in the basket and off you go!
Book with Mind the Gap Tours who will meet you at London Waterloo station to take the train to Richmond (20mins) where you collect your bicycles, ready to set off on the ride to Hampton Court.
3. See the city on 2 wheels
Explored London but fancy seeing it from a new perspective? The Barclays Cycle Hire scheme is perfect if you feel like picking up a bike, going for a ride and dropping it off when you’ve had enough. Cycle between 2 different locations or do a circular trip and return it to the same spot.
You can find the bike docking stations at 100s of locations all around the capital. You will need a credit or debit card to pay at the terminals.
4. Island life
The rugged Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland encapsulates the country’s finest features – mountains, hills and stunning seascapes all on one island. And measuring 167 sq miles, you can cover a lot of ground by bicycle. Designated trails lead you over the peaks so be prepared for some exertion! Continuous seaviews give you the chance to spot seals and dolphins. Look up and you could spot a golden eagle soaring.
Take a ferry from Ardrossan on the mainland with Caledonian MacBrayne.
5. Olympic standard
You saw it during the Olympics, now you can try it out for yourself – Lee Valley VeloPark is the only place in the world where you can try out track cycling, road racing, BMX or mountain biking all in one place. At the London 2012 venue within Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in East London, you can choose from cycling the track in the iconic velodrome, racing on the road circuit, tackling the mountain bike trails, or jumping and bumping on the berms of the re-modelled Olympic BMX track.
The nearest rail and Underground station is Stratford from where the park is a 20-minute walk. Buses 388, 308, 339, 97 also stop outside.