If you’re looking for a scenic country ride away from the constant flow of traffic, then some of the UK’s railway cycling routes might be up your street.
In the 1960s, over 5,000 miles of railway lines were axed following the ‘Reshaping of British Railways ‘ report, Dr Richard Beeching (commonly known as The Beeching Report).
These railways are far from disused though – most of them have been converted into traffic-free routes for cyclists and walkers.
With ready-made connections to country towns (and their perfect cafe stops), and easy-to-follow navigation these make excellent rides if you want to enjoy a pleasant amble. Most are suitable for sporty hybrid bikes, though a cyclocross bike (adventure road or gravel bike) is often ideal.
Forest Way Railway Cycling Route, Sussex
Groombridge to East Grinstead – 9.75 miles. Full route description here.
This ride sits on the Kent-Sussex border and will transport you from Groombridge in Tunbridge Wells to Forest Way Country Park in East Grinstead.
The terrain of the Forest Way is largely flat – with just a few uphill stretches over the final three miles. Most of the trail consists of hard packed gravel which means the winder tyres of a hybrid or cyclocross bike are idea. The route itself is traffic free, but towards the end you will need to cross a few minor roads.
You’ll lace between High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the River Medway – meaning there are plenty of excellent views along the way.
Much of the ride runs under tree cover, providing shade or shelter depending upon conditions. There are plenty of picnic tables along the way for refreshment stops, and you’ll also pass through several small villages. One such attraction is Hartfield, the former home of Winnie the Pooh creator AA Milne. There is a real ‘House at Pooh corner’ – which makes for a perfect photo opportunity!