Best Long Distance Cycle Routes in the UK | NINE YARDS TOURS
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Your Next Holiday – One of The UK’s Long Distance Cycle Routes

In the past few years there’s been a real boom in the UK cycling holiday market. The combined craving for good times and good health has led to a lot of people abandoning the sun loungers for bike saddles and taking to the open road/gravel track/goatpath on a hill in the arse end of nowhere for their relaxing two weeks away from work. Whether you prefer the safety of a guided cycling holiday or are a bit more gung ho and prefer to go it alone with just the maps and your hopes on a self-guided, long distance cycling tour, there is definitely a ride in this list that could get you out of the house and putting the revolutions in for your 2021 staycation.

The C2C

137 miles, 11 hours
This trip shows up in most of these types of lists and is one of the most popular UK cycle holidays, for good reason too! Starting at the port of Whitehaven on the Irish sea, you snake through the Lakes in Cumbria, climb through the rough terrain of the Pennines, and then on to the flat and easy going railway paths of County Durham. Our friends at Sustrans recommend going west to east, and we wholeheartedly agree. The wind is better if you travel from the west, and the hills less hilly.

The Westcountry Way

257 miles, 21 hours
This is a favourite UK cycle tour of mine, being from Bristol and west-country born and bred (you can almost hear the twang through your screen). This one is particularly family friendly as it’s pretty much level the whole way through, as well as having a host of beautiful and interesting things to see along the way. My recommendations? Start in Padstow as suggested, and eat at Rick Steins flagship fish restaurant “The Seafood Restaurant” – ask for the Dorset Oysters followed by the Lobster Risotto. Carry right on with the route past Bristol on the Bristol Bath cycle path, and make sure you spend some time in Bath at the end. Bath is the only UK city given the title of UNESCO heritage site, it’s absolutely beautiful. Stop for buns at Sally Luns, and see if you can spot the locations filmed for 2020 smash Netflix hit, Bridgerton.

North Wales Coastal Route

110 miles, 9 hours
North Wales is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places in the UK. This route starts in Holyhead, and then heads east towards Menai Bridge, back towards the mainland, onto country lanes with the stunning mountains of Snowdonia as a backdrop. The best/worst bit on this route is the mile climb as you head east from Prestatyn, which offers the most beautiful views of The Wirral, Dee Estuary and the glowing lights of Liverpool. End your route in Chester, preferably in the restaurant Hypha, which made it’s way into the Michelin 2020 guide. It’s a fantastic, sustainable and seasonal restaurant, and the food won’t let you down after your full day of cycling.

Caledonian way

234 miles, 19 hours
Starting from Campbeltown, and heading in a horizontal route north east across Scotland, this is such a beautiful trail. Passing Ben Nevis and Loch Ness, it’s a tourists dream route. Another great thing about this route is that wild camping is totally legal in almost all of Scotland. (Read guidance here before you go.) Picture this, it’s the summer, you’ve just woken up in your tent (or our Bell Tent), you unzip the door and peak outside, and holy moly, you remember yesterday when you set up camp on the shore of Loch Ness? That was a BRILLIANT idea. We offer this trip on our “personalised” tours, click here to read here in more detail.

The Great North Trail

825 miles, 16-26 days
This route is not for the faint of heart, or those new to long-distance cycling. This kind of route requires fairly meticulous planning. The trail is split up into eight parts, The Peaks, The Dales, The North Pennines, Scottish Borders, Central Belt, Grampian Mountains, Northern Highlands and then the final 135 miles from Oykel Bridge to John o’ Groats. Remember, this is pretty much as North as you can get in the UK, so prepare for the worst weather and plan in your stops. There are many hostels and guesthouses who cater to the weary cyclist, as well as the Bothies – empty remote shelters, managed by volunteers and opened up to the public.

King Alfred’s Way

220 miles, 18 hours
The new kid on the UK long distance cycle route block, King Alfred’s Way is definitely one of the UK’s best off-road cycle routes. Officially starting in Winchester (however, as it is a loop you can jump in anywhere), passing by Salisbury Cathedral, Stonehenge (unless the Welsh have successfully reclaimed it by the time you get on your bike), the less imposing but still ancient Avebury Stone Circle, the Uffington Horse, close to Swindon and through Reading. You’ll traverse The Ridgeway, which is thought to be the UK’s oldest road, come within spitting distance of Farnham Castle and The Devils Punch Bowl, plus there are swimming opportunities at the Avon and the Thames. King Alfred’s Way really has a lot to offer in terms of stop offs so you might want to plan in a day longer than you think you’ll need.

Ballyshannon to Larne

281 miles, 23 hours
The Northern Ireland coastline is a beautiful thing and there’s no better way to see it than by bike. The route starts hugging the UK/Republic of Ireland border before hitting the coast at Derry, Ireland’s only walled city, which also happens to be teeming with craic. It can get a little blustery when you’re cruising along the coastal road, past the miles of sandy beaches, the historic golf courses at Portrush and Portstewart, not to mention to legendary Giants Causeway so make sure to pack your windbreaker. After leaving Ballycastle you’ll be treated to the lovely villages of Waterfoot, Carnlough and Glenarm before hitting Larne for a well deserved pint of Guinness.

Offa’s Dyke Path

244 miles, 36 hours
Starting in the Northern coastal town of Prestatyn and heading down the Welsh/English Border, this route follows the path of King Offa’s wall built to keep out the Welsh and presumably stop them from reclaiming Stonehenge. This is another route that’s easily extended, with 2 world class bike parks, One Planet Adventure in the first 50 miles and Black Mountain Cycle Center  in the last. The Offa’s Dyke Path is also one of our preplanned offerings, details can be found here. If the you like the look of the route but feel the schedule is a bit much, get in touch and we can revise it to suit your ability with shorter days, more stops or by avoiding some of the bigger hills, whatever you need.

North Coast 500

500 miles, +8 days
We love a circular route at Nine Yards, it makes a bikepacking experience so much easier when you can drive to the remote start, which also happens to be the remote end. As anyone who’s ever been to Scotland knows, it’s pretty much all hills so you’d need calves on their A Game for this one. There is a pay off though, the scenery. If you’re easily distracted you may want to bring knee pads because there are views that will knock you off your bike on a regular basis here. Best taken in during Spring or Autumn to avoid the midges and tourists, both swarm the area during the peak months.

Lands End to John O’Groats/LEJOG/JOGLE/The big one.

1200ish miles, +17 days
Everyone knows the Lands End to John O’Groats route with it’s frankly scary distance of around 1200 miles and more route options than you could shake many sticks at, it’s not actually the longest UK cycle route but it’s definitely on the most bucket lists. Traditionally starting in the south, the Cornish countryside is not a believer of easing you in and there are some good climbs from the get go, but it flattens a fair bit in central England before the big climbs Scotland has to offer. There are many ways to take this route, if you’re going for speed you can hammer the A roads but if you’d like a more leisurely pace, the Sustrans Route  will keep you on the quieter roads, canal paths and gravel tracks as much as possible.

There are so many routes out there to try, the above are only a snippet. We can offer you a selection of tried and tested routes in our Preplanned Adventures, or we can work with you to map out a new and exciting cycling holiday that’s all you. The great thing about us is that we are totally flexible. We’ll make you a bacon sarnie on the shore of Loch Ness at 7am, or we’ll find you a Bothy in the highlands and be there ready and awaiting at dusk with your stew, more information can be found here. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via the contact form, at, or give us a call on 07599 844605 and we can get started.

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