6 bank holiday road cycling ideas

A 3 day weekend stretches out before you, and it’s the perfect opportunity to get some riding in. Whether you fancy a point-to-point ride, or just three whole days of riding somewhere beautiful, we’ve got a selection of ideas to set your wheels a-spinning.

On the road with friends, with your partner or off on your own, look forward to plenty of bike-time this weekend

1. The Way of the Roses

If you’re looking for a bank holiday weekend challenge, then try the Way of the Roses, a coast-to-coast route between Morecombe on the west coast of the UK to Bridlington on the east coast.

The 170-mile route takes you through some impressive landscapes including the Yorkshire Dales, Lune Valley, Nidderdale, and also passes the historic cities of York and Lancaster. It’s these last landmarks that give the route it’s name; a reference to the War of the Roses between the House of Lancaster, symbolised by the red rose, and the House of York, symbolised by the white.

You’ll also be cycling part of the Grand Depart route for the 2014 Tour de France, so you can channel your inner Wiggins as you sprint along. .

When you head through the historic town of Ripon, check out Chimes Café, which has a reputation for tasty brownies and flapjacks in its homemade food repertoire.

2. London to Paris

A weekend city-break with a difference. Travel capital to capital under your own steam following the Avenue Verte route, using quite roads and greenways. Sample the cuisine and the culture, then hop on the Eurostar to come back. Perfect!

Combining quiet roads and greenways, the Avenue Verte takes you all the way to Paris. Image copyright Duncan WJ Palmer from Flickr

This is a 250 mile route, so it’s going to be hard going – but it does mean you can probably consume as much fromage and patisserie as you like once you arrive.

You’ll need to book your ferry crossing over, on the Newhaven – Dieppe route, and plan your trip around the ferry times. In exchange, you’ll get to cycle through some beautiful parts of England and France, and of course ride into the French capital like a triumphant Tour de France rider.

3. C2C – or Sea to Sea

The C2C (or Sea to Sea) is one of the most famous and most ridden cycle routes in the UK. 147 Miles of challenging climbs and descents, it wends its way through the Lake District, the Pennines, and down into County Durham.

There are different start and finish points, so you have a few options at either end. Generally speaking it’s advisable to tackle the route from west to east, to take advantage of the prevailing winds. This also means you cross the wild, wonderful and rather hilly Lake District first.

Some of the dramatic vistas and open roads of the Lakes. Image copyright Bruce Stokes from Flickr

Check the weather before trying this one – several sections, including some of the Lake District climbs, can be pretty exposed, so make sure you are prepared and have the right kit with you.

4. West Country Way

Head in either direction – Padstow to Bath or Bristol, or vice versa – whichever way you ride, you’re guaranteed to take in the sites that most people miss as they fly by in cars.

The West Country Way is 250 miles long, so while you might be out to push yourself over the weekend, you may prefer to ride just a section or two. Choosing which sections may be tricky though as there are some lovely sights along the way.

The route takes in the lush hilly terrain of the Mendips and Exmoor, passing Glastonbury, Barnstaple and Bude en route. There are several traffic-free sections, including the Tarka Trail and the Camel Trail.

If you end up in Padstow, reward yourself with some well-deserved fish and chips from celebrity chef Rick Stein – he owns a fish bar right on the harbour side. Finishing at Bath or Bristol? You can’t really go wrong with a cream tea in one of the numerous teashops that abound in each area.

5. The Celtic Trail

Another wonderfully long route, handily signposted and mapped out for you by Sustrans, the Celtic Trail takes you through the widest point of Wales. Starting in Fishguard or St Davids, and finishing in Chepstow, the route is broken into stages of 30 to 40 miles. You can choose to do a few stages a day, or just complete part of the route.

Particularly scenic are the sections in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, which is covered by the east section, so start at St Davids and conclude your ride in the Mumbles of Swansea as the route is best cycled west to east to take advantage of the prevailing wind direction.

If you fancy a break en route, a visit to the sweeping sand dunes and crashing surf of Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsula is well worth it. It completely deserves its designation an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’.

6. Bute and the Cowal Peninsula

Enjoy a ride through dramatic Scottish scenery with a route that’s mostly flat and quiet.

Stunning loch-side scenery, and quiet roads await. Image copyright Velodenz from Flickr

You can do this loop in one day, or spread it over two for a more leisurely ride as there’s lots to see around here. If you’re into archaeology and history, Kilmartin Glen has some amazing Neolithic and Bronze Age sites and remains.

If you like your seafood, then the original Loch Fyne fish restaurant is based at Cairdow near the head of the Loch, and is well worth a visit.

The landscape and views are stunning, though keep an eye on the weather, as it can be a little exposed on the coastal and loch-side sections.

If you are feeling the need for a challenge, and up for a few long days in the saddle, then add an extra section taking in Lochilphead and Oban before either heading back down to Glasgow or on up to Fort William.


The majority of these routes are part of the National Cycle Network, which was set up, signposted and is maintained by Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity.

Sustrans is a charity that works with communities, policy-makers and partner organisations so that people can choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys and enjoy better, safer spaces to live in.

Visit the Sustrans website to find out more.


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