Cycling in National Parks

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Cycling is a great way to get out and about in the national parks, Britain's breathing spaces. From family bike rides on woodland tracks and quiet country roads, to challenging mountain bike rides on real mountains, taking to two wheels lets you take in the scenery, spot some wildlife and visit some out-of-the-way places.

The further information section will link you to information about cycle routes, hire shops and places to stay if you want a cycling holiday. There are also route guides to download.

Flat and family friendly

Quiet country roads and traffic-free byways, bridleways and cycle paths mean there are miles of easy cycle routes in all the national parks. The Broads, the New Forest, the South Downs and the south of Pembrokeshire Coast are especially gentle for beginners and families.

The Monsal Trail in the Peak District uses old railway tunnels, newly opened especially for cycling, to get you to parts of the park no one else can reach!

Take your mountain bike to a real mountain

Mountain bikes were made for mountains, and there are some great, challenging trails in the uplands of the Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia, the Lake District, Loch Lomond and the Trossachs, Northumberland, the Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast and the Yorkshire Dales national parks, where you can test your biking skills amongst the most stunning scenery in Britain. There are also thrilling rides in Exmoor and Dartmoor national parks with graded cycle route maps available to help you plan your route. Get maps from Dartmoor's National Park Visitor Centres and the new 1 South West cycle site.

Bikes, boats and trains

Let the train take some of the strain, the North York Moors steam railway and the West Loch Lomond Way let you travel back by train to your starting point. In the Lake District you can load your bike onto a boat to cross Windermere as part of your route, or travel on the Ravenglass steam railway and then cycle back on the Eskdale trail.

Mountain biking at Talybont Reservoir, Brecon Beacons National Park

Two people mountain biking on a grassy mountain side above a reservoir

Mountain biking in Dartmoor National Park

A mountain biking descending a steep stony path

Cycling in the New Forest National Park

Two cyclists on a wide path beside trees pausing to look at a map

Cycling in the North York Moors National Park

Cyclists with a view over a green valley below

Mountain biking at Mam Tor, Peak District National Park

Two people mountain biking on a grassy track with a valley below

Cycle tours

Ditch the car and take to two wheels for the whole of your holiday. The 80-mile Moor to Sea trail across the North York Moors starts at the coast and ends on heather moors. The 90-mile Dartmoor Way and 130-mile Yorkshire Dales Cycleway are circular rides over varied terrain, whilst the Hadrian's Cycleway follows the line of the ancient wall for 173 miles from coast to coast.

The Taff Trail and Lôn Las Cymru National cycle routes both pass through the Brecon Beacons, and the Celtic Trail National cycle route follows the sea for over 140 miles around Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Or take on the challenge of visiting three national parks, by following the Pennine Cycleway from Derby in the Peak District, through the Yorkshire Dales and finishing in Northumberland. At more than 355 miles, this trail is ideal to do over several visits!

Fuel yourself with local food

Once you've built up a good appetite, make sure you take advantage of the great local food and drink the national parks have to offer, you'll be supporting local communities and getting a real taste of the place, too.

Where to buy and eat great local food

Cycling in the National Parks

Guide to good cycling

  1. Look after yourself. Ensure your bike is safe to ride, wear a helmet, use lights after dark and take warm and waterproof clothing.
  2. Look after others. Only cycle where you have a right of way, footpaths are not for bikes, give way to walkers and horse riders, use a bell or greeting to let them know you are there, and go slowly near farm animals and dogs.
  3. Look after the national parks. Don't erode paths by riding on very wet ground, avoid sharp braking and always follow the Countryside Code