Our 5 Best National Cycle Network Routes in 2024

Britain may not be renowned for its mountains, but there are still plenty of great cycling routes around the country that take in the best of the British countryside. The National Cycling Network (NCN) is the backbone of British adventure cycling and features over 8,400 kilometres worth of trails that can all be explored on two wheels.

In this article, we will take a closer look at a selection of our favourite routes from across the network and what makes each of them such amazing places to ride your bike.

So, what are the best National Cycle Network Routes?

Llandudno – Conwy

We start with one of the most spectacular yet easy routes in north Wales. Beginning in the coastal town of Llandudno, you can enjoy an ice cream and a walk along the historic Victorian pier under the shadow of the imposing Great Orme climb before setting off on the short trail to Conwy.

The route itself hugs the Welsh coast and features views of the Irish sea as well as the stunning Eryri National Park. At just 2.7 kilometres in length, this is one of the shorter routes on the network and can be treated either as a point-to-point or as part of a wider exploration of the Welsh coastline.

Once in Conwy, you’ll pass through the impressive walled battlements that surround the town and can visit Conwy castle. This ancient fortification was built by Edward I and was once the home of Welsh legend Owain Glyndŵr during his rebellion against the English crown.

The Monsal Trail

If traffic-free family fun is what you’re looking for, the Monsal Trail is one of the best beginner-friendly routes on the network. Starting from just outside of Bakewell in Derbyshire, this former railway line takes you through the heart of the breath-taking Peak District national park over the course of 15 kilometres. The shorter distance and lack of vehicles on the route makes the Monsal Trail a brilliant place for children to take their first pedal strokes in their cycling journey.

For more experienced riders, you can continue deeper into the Peak District and tackle some of the challenging climbs in the area by carrying on beyond the signposted trail. Riding the Monsal Trail in reverse is a popular variation of the route as it allows for a coffee and Bakewell pudding stop before heading back the other way.

London Docklands and Lea Valley

While riding in the countryside is great, you don’t have to live rurally to enjoy what the National Cycling Network has to offer. If you’re a Londoner, taking a break from the hustle and bustle of capital life can be an important way of relaxing.

The London Docklands and Lea Valley trail measures in at just over 33 kilometres and takes in some of the best green spaces in the city. Starting from Greenwich Maritime World Heritage Site, you glide past attractions such as Victoria Park, Walthamstow Wetlands, and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on your way to the banks of the River Thames. This also makes the route ideal for tourists that want to sight-see in the capital without the stress of driving or using the Underground.

The Caledonia Way

Found in the far north of Scotland, the Caledonia way is a section of the NCN designed for true adventurers. Beginning on the Kintyre Peninsula, this trail takes you through the centre of the Scottish Highlands and features a series of testing climbs and descents on the road to Inverness.

At over 376 kilometres in length, this isn’t a ride to be taken lightly and is best tackled during the summer due to the potentially adverse weather conditions. The route can take upwards of a week in the saddle to complete depending on where you decide to visit along the way, and is sure to test your endurance to the maximum. Before setting off, ensure you have packed enough supplies for what promises to be an amazing voyage through Scotland.

Dorset Coast to Coast

A great route for amateurs and veterans alike, the Dorset Coast to Coast trail is a 157 kilometre route that takes in the rivers and valleys of the West Country. The route itself is mostly free of traffic, following the old railway lines.

While there are plenty of different ways to tackle this route, the traditional method is to head from the north to the south via the outskirts of the Dartmoor National Park. This is a great place to stop for a break, or even a night away as you head towards the end of the road in Plymouth. Once there, you can toast your success with a glass of the locally distilled gin or take a dip in the famous Tinside Lido.

If you want to turn your ride across Dorset into an even greater adventure, the route connects to the expansive La Vélodyssée network. This is a joint venture between England and France that combines their respective cycling trails, all the way to the Spanish border.

Enjoy these National Cycle Network Routes!

The National Cycling Network is a truly fantastic way of exploring Great Britain and Northern Ireland by bike. While those mentioned above are some of our favourite routes from around the country, there are dozens more to ride at your leisure. If you’re in need of a bike made for adventure, the Lapierre Crosshill provides seamless transitions from tarmac to gravel trails and back again and ensures a smooth ride with superb handling and control. Check out the range and get riding!

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