7 Spectacular Circular Cycling Routes

There are few things more enjoyable than a cycle ride through stunning British countryside - so if you’re dreaming of gliding past historic landmarks, seeing epic scenery and feeling fresh air on your face, here are a few spots to fuel some serious two-wheeled wanderlust. From the Scottish Highlands to a ride around a traditional Cotswold village, you can let your imagination run wild as you pick which of these spectacular cycle loops to add to your bucket list…

1. The Great Flat Lode, Cornwall

Two vintage bikes on the side of a road. Credit to VisitBritain/Tomo Brejc

Length: 12Km

A chance to discover fascinating aspects of Cornish history and heritage, the Great Flat Lode route will take you through 12km of the Redruth Mining District, part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site. This loop follows part of the Basset Mine Tramway, once used to transport tin ore, so it’s peppered with chances to discover the remains of the area’s industrial past, including Cornwall’s last tin smelter at Carnkie.

Although comprised of a challenging route of farmland, heathland and off-road tracks, this short loop has only a few steep sections for you to consider.

The Great Flat Lode

2. Assynt Achiltibuie Circular, Scottish Highlands

Length: 112Km

Those longing for a long-distance adventure in the Scottish Highlands should look no further than Assynt Achiltibuie Circular. One of VisitScotland’s Top 11 Most Spellbinding Cycle Routes, this loop will take you across the wild countryside of Scotland’s north-west. Starting from the village of Achiltibuie, the route follows a road that allows cyclists to whizz past stunning mountains such as Sula Bheinn, Cùl Mòr and Stac Pollaidh, as well as some unexpected beaches and dream-worthy lochs – a must for a bike-lover’s bucket list!

Lying 130Km from Inverness, known as the capital of the Highlands, time spent exploring the area is a must if you want to experience Scotland’s rugged loch-strewn landscape.

Assynt Achiltibuie Circular

3. Hackney to Epping Forest, London to Essex

Length: 48Km

Those wanting to peddle their way from London’s East End into Greater London and onto the Essex countryside can plan a cycle ride from Hackney’s Victoria Park to the green woodland of Epping Forest. Along this circular route through the capital, cyclists will encounter landmarks such as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and travel along the River Lea, as well as only a few short ascents.

Following the River Lea from east London is a treat for the senses, offering those looking to escape the crowds the chance to see another side of the bustling capital. This river runs directly through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, a complex built for the 2012 summer Olympics. Cyclists can hop off their bikes and enjoy a well-earned break beside the impressive velodrome or relax with a picnic in the parkland.

Once you reach Epping Forest’s lush woodland, refuel at one of the many nearby cafés or enjoy a traditional afternoon tea, before venturing to the historic Queen Elizabeth Hunting Lodge. If you’re looking to stop off at any destinations en-route, we recommended that you check access and opening times before setting off.

Epping Forest

4. The Settle Circular, Yorkshire

Cycling on Burbage Moor, a high plateau and peat moorland in the Peak District. Two people, a man and woman on the road.

Length: 28Km

Having sprinted onto many cyclists’ wish lists after the 2014 Tour de France, the Settle Circular is the loop for cyclists dreaming of a true British challenge. Comprised of two ascents, this route passes through the expansive countryside and quaint villages of northern England. Giving you the chance to experience Yorkshire’s beautiful limestone scenery, historic packhorse bridges and dramatic valleys, this rewarding route also takes in picture-postcard villages such as Airton, Arncliffe and Grassington.

Settle Circular

5. Cromer Ridge, Norfolk

Length: 22km

Lying on the east coast of England, less than three hours’ drive from London, Norfolk’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a great spot if you’re dreaming of the road less travelled. One of the area’s circular cycle routes that offers a dose of bucolic mindfulness is along Cromer Ridge, part of the Norfolk Coast Cycleway, which takes you across the hilly landscape and to the highest point in Norfolk, Beacon Hill. This path is a mixture of traffic-free cycleways and trickier off-road tracks, but rewards cyclists with undulating countryside, flint-clad villages and the stunning parkland of the 17th century manor house, Felbrigg Hall.

Cromer Ridge

6. The Forest of Marston Vale, Bedfordshire

Length: 4Km

If you fancy an easy-going and family-friendly cycle ride immersed in British forestland, look no further than the Forest of Marston Vale, which consists of two hill-free 4km loops, in a figure of eight. Lying just over 60Km from the historic city of Cambridge, Marston Vale offers rich forest views and revitalising lakeside cycling – this could be just the spot to enjoy a homemade British picnic!

Forest of Marston Vale

7. The Burford Circular (East), Cotswolds

Length: 52Km

To experience the quaint village life of the Cotswolds, you should add the Burford Circular to your list of dream rides. Lying 122Km from London, it takes saddled adventurers through Burford, along Windrush Valley, via tranquil lanes and charming honey-coloured hamlets.

This moderate ride takes in some outstanding heritage sites that span Britain’s history, from the fascinating Roman Villa at North Leigh and the 12th century Burford Church, to the inimitable Blenheim Palace. After cycling through historic Britain, take the opportunity to enjoy the medieval town of Burford itself – a chance to de-saddle and take a walk through time among traditional antique shops, historic houses and flower-filled courtyards.

06 May 2022(last updated)

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