The UK is a cycling hot spot for all disciplines of riding: road, mountain and everything inbetween. It's especially accommodating for families with its hidden gems and historic cycleways.
We understand that cycling is a hobby, a passion... even an addiction for many of us. However, we all fancy changing it up a little from time-to-time by branching off from the usual routes, or even picking up a different two-wheeled steed.
We've done our research and we've found a selection of canal routes and towpaths which we'd love to explore this year. Perfect for all skills, ages and fun for all the family too.
Situated in North-East Wales, Llangollen is known for its gnarly downhill tracks, but there's a lovely cycleway which takes you on an 8 mile route of traffic free bliss.
Beginning in Llangollen, this route is entirely via the canal way, so no need to worry about getting lost. It's beautiful setting in the heart of the Welsh countryside will have you stopping to appreciate the natural landscapes, and snapping those photo memories.
You'll pass tourist spots such as the Horseshoe Falls and the Pontcycyllte Aqueduct which is a World Heritage site, and engineering masterpiece. At this point you can hop off the bike and walk allow the top which towers 126 feet above the river.
Passing through the Whitehouse Tunnel, you'll shortly come to the stunning town of Chirk where you can stop for a rest and a cuppa before heading back.
MONMOUTHSHIRE AND BRECON CANAL
Beginning in Newport, this traffic-free route will take you 12 miles along the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal for a leisurely ride through the green corridor.
Leaving Newport, follow the cycleway along the river Usk until you connect with the National Cycle Route 49, and follow it north until you finish at the canal basin in Pontypool.
The wide gravel towpath is fairly flat, but offers beautiful views of rising hills and countryside landscapes. The canal itself was used to transport limestone, coal and iron ore until it became disused in 1962. The canal route ends in Pontypool where you can choose to continue on the cycle route, or return to Newport.
The Welsh cycling network is extensive and easy to hop on-and-off routes to customised your own Welsh adventure.
This 17 mile Scottish cycle route follows a disused railway line which runs alongside the river, offering a traffic-free and smooth tarmac ride.
From the railway station in Kilmarnock, you'll cycle to the ferry port of Ardossan before continuing through Irvine and onwards to Kilwinning. On the way you'll pass the Garnock Flood Nature Reserve and Eglinton Country Park, the perfect place for a bite to eat.
From here the route will take you on some short country roads before joining back onto the traffic-free path. The views will open up to expose the beauty of Irvine Bay and scenes of the Isle of Arran. If you fancy a little more adventure, take your bike on the ferry to the Isle of Arran and explore this area of Ayrshire.
CLYDEBANK - EDINBURGH
This epic Scottish adventure is the ultimate traffic-free cycling experience, covering 55 miles of towpaths and canal-ways in a flat and direct route between these two cities.
It's advised to cycle these route from west to east owing to the prevailing Scottish winds. You can choose to begin your journey on National Route 7 at Bowling, which is an additional 4 miles to the trip. Otherwise, Begin by the canal in Clydebank where Route 7 follows the River Clyde.
Once you've passed Stockingfield, you'll come to Glasgow Road bridge full of life and a great place for a snack break. Upon leaving, you'll reach Kelvin Valley and come to the famous Falkirk Wheel, a rotating boat lift which opened in 2002.
Once you've crossed the River Avon, continue towards Edinburgh whilst taking in the beautiful sights of Bathgate Hills. The cycle route will take you into Edinburgh through Wester Hailes where the canal has been reopened in recent years. Join route 75 at Slateford and follow for a few miles into the heart of Edinburgh where you can stop for a break, or spend the night before making the return journey.
INIS EOGHAIN CYCLEWAY
The 34 mile loop route begins and ends in the town of Derry, connecting the River Foyle to Lough Swilly. Largely traffic-free, this cycle way passes along Foyle Valley and continues under the beautiful Foyle Bridge before heading to Ballyarnett Country Park.
From here the route begins to climb which opens up views over Lough Swilly, Inch Island and the Inis Eoghain Peninsula. From this peak, the route descends through country roads and on towards the shores of Lough Swilly. From the busy town of Newtoncunningham, the path begins to loop back to Derry via countryside and through Carrigans.
LAGAN & LOCH CYCLEWAY
This route begins in Lisburn where you'll cycle for 21 miles, through Belfast, and finishing in Jordanstown. This route is largely traffic-free, fairly flat and paved with tarmac and short cobble terrain making it a suitable route for beginner riders and families.
Setting off in Lisburn, the cycle way runs alongside the river through to Shaws Bridge before entering the heart of Belfast. Once you pass the docks, you'll come onto the North Foreshore Path which will lead via Belfast Lough and onto your final destination in Jordanstown.
KENNET & AVON CANAL
This famous waterway cycle route links Newbury with the centre of Reading city with 19 miles of pleasant climbs and beautiful scenery.
Leaving from Thatcham station, this route begins on a smooth towpath that takes you through the heart of this old English town.
Easily accessed by rail, this route has stations dotted along the way for you to plan your distances and even take the train back to the start once finished. This popular route has many attractions along the way, so don't feel as though you need to stay on the cycle path the whole way.
THE JUBILEE RIVER
The Jubilee River cycle route is a pleasant circular loop around Windsor, passing many attractions and historical site including Windsor Castle and Legoland.
This route is great if you're looking to get away from the bustling city of London and experience some culture and British countryside. With easy railway access from the big city, there's no excuse to not spend a day on the bike enjoying the sights of Windsor.
The Jubliee River pathway is 3 metres wide, well surfaced and available to cyclists for the whole 7 mile loop.
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