10 Of The Best Family Bike Rides In The UK

Family mountain biking on a forest trail, back view

As we’re slowly starting to see the first signs of spring and the days are getting longer, many of us are looking forward to being out and about again after a long, cold winter stuck inside. While there are plenty of exercises we can do indoors, it’s good to know we can get outside again in the fresh air and stretch our legs. Cycling is becoming increasingly popular in the UK; a recent survey showed that more UK adults enjoy cycling than running, playing football or strength training. It’s a great way to keep fit without splashing out on an expensive gym membership; and if you want to improve your cycling strength, look at some exercises you can do at home.

It’s also good for the environment and, once you’ve bought a bike and accessories, helmets, locks etc, it’s cheap too; you can head off whenever you like! Cycling is a great hobby to do on your own, but it’s also a great way to spend some quality time with the family, you might just need to adapt your route to avoid too many hills or heavy traffic.

With this in mind, we’ve been looking at some of the best family cycle routes in the UK.

The Benefits Of Going On Family Bike Rides

Cycling is a great form of exercise, for everyone, and it’s a fun way of introducing exercise to young children, as well as reducing time spent in front of a screen for older ones, without either of them even realising what you’re doing. It’s also low impact, so great for all ages and fitness levels.

Family cycling encourages teamwork and strengthens family bonds, as well as encouraging a sense of adventure. It’s also great for mental health, helping to reduce stress and improve concentration, things that are just important for adults in full-time work as for children at school.  It’s a great way to reduce your family’s carbon footprint and encourage your children to look at sustainable ways of living.

So, let’s take a look at some routes to get you started!

Ellerburn Trail – Dalby Forest

Starting with one close to us here at The Insurance Emporium, Dalby Forest has a range of cycle trails for all abilities. This one is an easy-access path suitable for cyclists, as well as wheelchair users and pushchairs. The shortest route is just 2.8km, so perfect for new cyclists, but there’s also a longer one of 4.5km. There are some amazing views across the valley on this route, and you can also stop off and look at Ellerburn Pond.

If you fancy something a bit longer, you can then move on to the Adderstone trail which is also good for new cyclists but is a bit longer at 12.8km.

Tamsin Trail – Richmond Park – London

Fallow deer eating in autumnal Richmond Park in London by the road.

You don’t always have to head off into the countryside to find a quiet, traffic-free spot to cycle together. Richmond Park, the biggest enclosed park in London, is really popular with families.

The Tamsin Trail has great views over London and takes you past the Isabella Plantation, a flower garden famous for its azaleas and rhododendrons. If you’re really lucky you might also get to see some of the park’s famous deer grazing next to the path.

Bristol and Bath Railway Path – Somerset

This route is popular with both walkers and cyclists. It’s 13 miles long and is mostly flat as it follows a disused railway line. The majority of it is tarmacked and there are plenty of places to stop for drinks and snacks, and the former station of Bitton has working steam trains. There are also a couple of children’s playgrounds. It’s a great place to spot wildlife, as well as the odd sculpture!

Nutbrook Trail – Derbyshire

This easily accessible route follows converted railway lines along peaceful canal towpaths. It’s fairly flat and the surface is either fully tarmacked or a hard path, so great for novice cyclists.

There’s plenty to look at along the way, from the locks on the canal and old red brick mill buildings to Shipley Country Park and the surrounding woodland and lake. You can finish the ride with a drink in the visitor centre and café.

Cuckoo Trail – Sussex

Cycling along the cuckoo trail on a beautiful spring day

This is a really popular route for families; it’s totally traffic-free and takes you along another disused railway line, through woodland and open fields.

There are some interesting sculptures along the way, including wooden seats that were carved out of oak trees that fell in the great storm of 1987. You’ll also ride through some picturesque villages and cycle past the remains of an Augustinian Priory. If you time it right and go in the spring/early summer, you’ll see the bluebells. You also need to remember to listen out for the woodpeckers.

The Kelpies – Stirlingshire

Starting in Helix Park, home of the largest equine sculptures in the world, as well as the Falkirk Wheel, this is a flat, easy, circular route with lots of wildlife to look out for, including roe deer, buzzards and kestrels, with plenty of cafes and picnic spots along the way.

You’ll cycle alongside the Forth and Clyde canal, an area steeped in history; the Kelpies were created in honour of the draught horses that pulled the barges on the canal.

Llandrillo-yn-Rhos – Wales

There’s plenty to see on this route as it winds its way along the north coast of Wales, past rock pools, old quarries and Britain’s smallest church, St. Trillo’s, with its holy well.

You’ll find plenty of places to stop for ice cream, and plenty of rock pools for the younger ones (and older ones too!) to explore and as it’s mostly paved surfaces, it’s great for all levels.

Exe Estuary Trail – Devon

river front, Topsham

Another canal route, follows one of the oldest surviving canals in Britain, passing some beautiful villages with plenty of wildlife to look out for, including otters.

It’s a flat route with fantastic views and a couple of miles in, alongside an idyllic lock keeper’s cottage, you have the option to take the foot ferry over to Topsham. Keep an eye out for deer too as you pass Powderham Castle deer park, with its 600 fallow deer.

Middlewood Way and Macclesfield Canal – Cheshire

Railways and canals feature quite heavily in any list of good cycle routes because they’re generally quite a flat terrain, and this route features both. It follows the old Macclesfield, Bollington and Marple railway through a mix of beautiful countryside and historic mill towns, then takes you past the Macclesfield canal for some of the ways, and over the impressive 23-arch Bollington viaduct.

It’s flat and traffic-free, so perfect for kids and there are plenty of places for the most important part of any family bike ride, the picnic stop.

Ballycarton Wood Trail – Northern Ireland

This woodland cycle route takes you through part of the Binevenagh Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s not completely flat so is probably more suited for older children, but it’s a great way for children to get a feel for riding off-road on forest tracks, without being too difficult.

The breathtaking views more than make up for any hills; with forests, mountains and coastal scenery that takes in the Atlantic coast. And the good thing about going up some hills on the way is that it’s downhill on the way back!

Keep an eye out for peregrines and buzzards along this route.

Cyclists family travelling on the road at sunset

Insurance For All The Family

Whether you’re new to cycling or have been cycling for years, it’s always good to have the peace of mind that bicycle insurance can bring. With The Insurance Emporium, you get family coverage as standard, but you can also customise your insurance with a range of optional benefits depending on your needs. You can insure up to six bikes on one policy, making it ideal for families with a shed full of bikes.

So, if you’re looking for a way to spend quality time together in the great outdoors, while also improving your physical and mental health and looking after the planet, you can’t go wrong with a good old family bike ride. There’ll be plenty of routes in your area, just saddle up and go. It’s just like riding a bike!

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