The Handbook
The Handbook

Pack your snack bars, don your helmet and Lycra-up for some epic cycle routes across the UK. Overnight stays in B&Bs are opening up, as well as our favourite hotels and countryside retreats, so what better way to explore the surrounding landscape than from two wheels?

There are rolling hills for newbies or steep climbs for Mark Cavendish wannabes and plenty of good grub and pub stops along the way. From the Cornish coast to the picturesque Lake District, get ready for some epic scenery on a truly unforgettable staycation. Just remember to take your padded shorts.

1. Cotswolds

If you haven’t heard of Nemo, it’s time to get used to the name. The luxury travel company works with you to design your dream trip through tailored itineraries and personal touches. And when it comes to cycling trips, they know just where to start.

Nemo works with sustainable cycling company Wild Carrot to organise guided cycle routes in the Cotswolds. Each journey helps you re-discover the joys of getting dirty and the wonders of nature, while also relaxing your tired limbs in luxury accommodation.

Hop on your bike at Tetbury in Gloucestershire for a half day’s cycle through 20 miles of rolling hills and winding country lanes surrounded by beautiful Cotswold stone. At the end your ride,  check into the four-star Barnsley House, a stunning adults-only spa hotel near Cirencester surrounded by immaculately kept lawns, lush greenery and even a kitchen garden. What’s more, The Village Pub (yes, that’s its actual name) is directly opposite. Enjoy a much-deserved post-ride pint along with a house burger, served with bacon jam, local Gloucester cheddar, house pickles and a healthy portion of French fries.

Get in touch with Nemo to find out more: www.nemo-travel.com

Barnsley House Hotel & Spa
Barnsley House Spa
Barnsley House grounds
The Village Pub
Stove Restaurant & Bar
Wainwrights' Inn
The Langdale Hotel & Spa

2. Lake District

Another of Nemo’s cycling recommendations is the Loop of Loughrigg in the heart of the Lake District. Start and end your journey in the  historic Langdale Estate, hidden away in 35 acres of breathtaking scenery. The ride is made up of about 19km of steep climbs, speedy descents, ancient quarries and epic views. On a nice day, there’s even a spot for a swim at Loughrigg Tarn, a small, natural lake surrounded by trees.

On your return, a fest awaits at Wainwrights’ Inn. Once a farmhouse, gunpowder factory manager’s house, petrol station and hotel, the building is steeped in history. Sink a few ales from local brewers and tuck into a hearty menu of British classics, from fish and chips to juicy rump steak. 

If you feel your ravenous appetite deserves extra special treatment, book a table at Stove Restaurant & Bar. Relax on the terrace by a fireplace to make the most of the great outdoors and order freshly baked pizza from the Wood Stone oven.

Get in touch with Nemo to find out more: www.nemo-travel.com

Loughrigg Tarn

3. New Forest

Ah, the New Forest. Wild horses, ancient woodland, open moors, mystical heathland and cliff-top views… it doesn’t get much better than that. There are extensive cycle routes through Moors Valley with more than 1,000 acres to explore on two wheels. Handy maps and signs show the routes clearly, from beginner 2km paths to longer 7km tracks. You can also try your hand at fishing, Go Ape, golf, and mindfulness walks if you have spare time on your hands.

Rest and recoup after your adventures by a warm fire at The Three Legged Cross or kick back in the pub garden for a quick refreshment. From craft beers to G&Ts with regional gins, you better pace yourself before passing out at your final destination, Burley Manor.

The boutique hotel has delightful views of the New Forest’s flora and fauna, including deer grazing mere metres from you. Stay put for the evening and enjoy the Mediterranean restaurant here, serving up tapas and carafes of wine.

Get in touch with Nemo to find out more: www.nemo-travel.com

The boutique hotel has delightful views of the New Forest's flora and fauna, including deer grazing mere metres from you.

Burley Manor
Ballygally Castle
The Mourne Mountains
Slieve Donard Resort & Spa

4. Northern Ireland

The Causeway Coast and Glens of Northern Ireland have views unlike any other seaside destination in the UK and provide more than 200km of cycling. You can get there by ferry if you want to take your own bikes or you can board a speedy flight (Corona permitting) without.

The Causeway Coastal Route, initially built in the early 20th Century, is at the foot of the famous nine Glens of Antrim and Gobbins Path with seriously dramatic scenery. It’s a great terrain for both beginners and advanced mountain bikers with an epic array of forests and parks to explore.

Visit Carnfunnock Country Park, a 191-hectare park located between Drains Bay and Ballygally for some short trips on the bike. Game of Thrones fans will be pleased to know parts of the show were filmed here, but you may need a tour guide to point the exact scenes out. While you’re there, stay at Ballygally Castle, located on the scenic Antrim coast facing the soft, sandy beaches of Ballygally Bay. The castle dates back to 1625 and is the only 17th Century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today. If you get your cycle done in the morning, spend the rest of the afternoon with a picnic by the Glen.

For a more intense cycling journey embark on the Mourne cycle loop further south. It has a killer climb, but you’re rewarded with a speedy descent and epic views. Finish the trip at Slieve Donard Resort & Spa on the idyllic seashores of Newcastle Bay. The hotel looks out across the Royal County Down Golf Course and your epic cycle across the Mountains of Mourne. Relax at the end of the day with a spa session for weary feet followed by a dip in the Vitality Pool and amethyst steam room. Then tuck into dinner à la carte at the fine-dining Oak Restaurant.

Both hotels are part of the Hasting Hotels collection: www.hastingshotels.com

5. Somerset

There are hundreds of cycling routes to choose from in the rolling hills of Somerset. From the limestone landscape of the Mendip Hills – officially an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – to the heathland and ancient oak woodlands of the Quantock Hills (also an AONB incidentally). We recommend checking yourself into The Newt, Somerset’s most talked about 5-star country estate, to relax in the stunning gardens and grounds before hopping onto two wheels.

There’s a great 9-mile round route that takes in local scenery, including the Maes Down, a Jurassic site that is about 190 million years old, as well as the more modern festival fields around Glastonbury. The nearby town of Bruton has plenty to keep you fed and watered afterwards. The Chapel restaurant has an enviable wine list, fresh produce from its bakery and delightful Mediterranean dishes. You can also make a few pit-stops at various countryside watering holes along the way, such as The Bell Inn in Evercreech.

The Newt, Somerset
The Chapel Restaurant
The Newt gardens

6. Cornwall

It’s time to get serious now. Cornish Cycle Tours have your route all mapped out and you can choose the difficulty level. For the cycling aficionados out there, why not try a self-guided four-day road tour of around 60 miles.

Starting in Wadebridge, you have the opportunity to enjoy the local independent shops and pubs before moving south to Falmouth. You’ll cycle past the Eden Project and some seriously epic coastal scenery you might recognise from TV favourites Poldark and Persuasion. Next up, cycle through quiet seaside towns all the way to Land’s End and then loop around the north coast through the arty seafront of St Ives, all the way back to Wadebridge.

Cornish Cycle Tours has handpicked their favourite B&Bs and hotels with sea views and charming en-suites. They’ll even recommend some great pub and grub stops along the way.

For more information, visit: www.cornishcycletours.co.uk

The Pig, South Downs
Artist Residence Brighton

7. South Downs

The South Downs Way is a 96-mile long trail for riders of all abilities. Cycle along the chalk ridge from Winchester through the Hampshire and Sussex South Downs to the white cliffs of Eastbourne. The adventurous can complete it in one day or, for those looking for a more sedate pace, you can break it up into several.

Most people tackle the route from west to east, as the wind is usually behind you, but either way you’ll find some cracking places to rest your weary feet. A new retreat from The Pig is set to open this summer, in the heart of the South Downs, but you’ll have to be pretty lucky to be in for a chance of getting a spot.

Alternatively, you can end the trip in Brighton instead of Eastbourne with a stay at the Artist Residence. Enjoy cocktails in the evening and a long lazy brunch the next day, followed by a potter around the independent shops in The Lanes.

8. Yorkshire Dales

In the 2012 London Olympics, there was one point in proceedings that if Yorkshire was its own country, it would be higher in the Olympic medal table than South Africa, Japan and Australia. So why not put your skills to the test in the home of cycling with ferocious gradients and wild scenery.

Check into Simonstone Hall (the honeymoon destination for Kate Winslet apparently) to start your journey in Hawes, North Yorkshire. The impressive period property has a great panorama over the surrounding landscape, just be prepared for rapidly changing weather in these parts. Begin the day with a full English and then hop on many of the gruelling cycles.

One of the toughest rides out there is the Etape du Dales. It’s an organised route of 110 miles, taking place on 8 August. The route includes some of the hardest and most well-known climbs in the UK, including Fountains Fell, Stoops Moss, Buttertubs Pass and Fleet Moss. Of course, you don’t have to ride it as part of the official event but it’s good fun and organised by the Dave Rayner Fund, a charity that helps support riders to become professional cyclists. Either way, it’s sure to be one epic day in the saddle.

Simonstone Hall
Etape du Dales
Simonstone Hall

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