Bike sales boomed in lockdown as more and more people discovered the joys of cycling close to home. Now as the open road beckons, Paul Bloomfield chooses the best routes for a freewheeling summer
M大发体育网站y backside has vivid memories of my first British cycling break. The Peak District left an indelible impression, on body and mind alike: its purpled moors, its lowering crags, its gritstone and grace, the riven scarp of Stanage Edge and wedding-cake elegance of Chatsworth. But if the region’s wild beauty and cultural charms quickly claimed my heart, my quads, calves and, yes, rear end were less enamoured – initially, at least. Two decades ago I was absurdly unprepared for the gradients (clue’s in the name, you might think), yet after three days of thigh-burning ascents and hayride downhills, I’d fallen for Derbyshire’s hillier tracts explored à vélo.
This summer, I suspect those rippling routes will be somewhat busier. We’re all cyclists now, it seems: bike sales boomed during lockdown as we discovered our inner Kenny or Cavendish. Cycling holidays have soared in popularity over recent years, but if the pandemic has somewhat put the brakes on immediate international travel, our freshly unlocked country is ripe for a two-wheeler staycation. No need to tackle public transport, or endure traffic tailbacks – simply hop on your steed and head out. Healthy, flexible, egalitarian, exhilarating: cycling’s the ideal way to roam the back roads and byways of our green and pleasant land. Just don’t forget your padded shorts.
Peak practice: Derbyshire
The UK’s first national park is aptly named, as you’ll discover on the four-day Cycle the Peak District small-group tour, one of the new-style centre-based Intrepid Retreats (0808 274 5111; ). From your home hub in Castleton, beneath the burly ruins of medieval Peveril Castle, circuit spectacular Ladybower Reservoir, spot red deer on the Longshaw Estate and skirt Stanage Edge and the “shivering mountain”, Mam Tor. From £520.
Creature Feature: Scottish Highlands
Wildlife you’ll spot while pedalling alongside lochs Lochy and Ness may or may not include a prehistoric plesiosaur, but should encompass golden eagles, red deer, and possibly dolphins in the Moray Firth. The four-night self-guided Loch Ness & The Highlands Cycling trip with Headwater (01606 720199; ) also visits Macbeth’s Cawdor Castle, Culloden battlefield, and the Falls of Foyers that, gushed Burns, “pours his mossy floods, till full he dashes on the rocky mounds”. From £1,039.
The Queen’s circuit: Isle of Wight
Discover Victoria’s secrets on a circular ride around the queen’s beloved island retreat. On Sherpa Expeditions’ (0800 008 7741; ) self-guided Isle of Wight Cycle tour, admire the Italianate splendour of her holiday home, Osborne House, and the dramatic Needles outcrops, tuck into fresh crab at the attractive easterly village of Bembridge and cool off at journey’s end with a toe-dip in the brine at Ryde Beach. From £470.
Tour de Yorkshire
大发体育网站This year’s Tour de Yorkshire was a sad casualty of the coronavirus crisis – but you can sample stretches of the planned 2020 route on a five-day self-guided tour of the Yorkshire Wolds with Saddle Skedaddle (0191 265 1110; ). Bookended by the magnificent Gothic minster of Beverley, this moderately testing circuit winds between medieval market towns such as Pocklington and Driffield, sleepy farming villages and the seabird city of Bempton Cliffs. From £570.
Bike the barricade: Hadrian’s Wall
The monumental border fortification certainly wasn’t constructed with two-wheeled tourists in mind – but it’s a boon for bikes, making cross-country navigation between historic sights and country pubs a breeze. On a self-guided Hadrian’s Cycleway tour with Macs Adventure (0141 5305452; ), a mix of back roads and traffic-free cycle paths link the Solway Firth with Tynemouth for a relaxing five-night Roman holiday. From £625.
Mild west: Cornwall
大发体育网站England’s extremity rewards those who tackle its undulating country roads with an array of enticing pit stops: luminous St Ives, the mirage-like rocktop castle at St Michael’s Mount, Poldark-era tin mines, timeless fishing villages and alluring beaches, pasties and cream teas galore. Cornish Cycle Tours’ (01637 889156; ) five-day self-guided West Cornwall itinerary also visits Trebah Tropical Gardens and the castles at Falmouth and St Mawes. From £555.
Car free for kids: Chilterns
Roald Dahl’s stamping ground is a low-key delight for pedalling parents, a lickswishy razztwizzler for energetic youngsters. The four-night self-guided Chiltern Traffic Free Jolly, newly designed for families by The Carter Company (01296 631671; ), pootles along flat, car-free routes to reach Roald Dahl’s Children’s Gallery, the glorious grounds of the pseudo-French chateau at Waddesdon, and sleepy Wendover, tucked into the Chilterns’ northern folds. From £452.
Really wild show: Hebrides
大发体育网站You’ll meet more mammals than Mamils in the Western Isles – otters, red deer, seals – along with majestic sea eagles and countless other birds amid the lochans, machair and gleaming white beaches. This wildest of regions provides the backdrop for a new six-night small-group Hebridean Trail mountain-bike tour with Wilderness Scotland (01479 420020; ), traversing the isles of South and North Uist, Harris and Scalpay, visiting ancient brochs, standing stones and blackhouse villages. From £2,095.
Castles and coast: West Wales
大发体育网站Carmarthenshire packs in an enviable castles-per-click count, gourmet fare and some of the country’s best-plotted road cycling routes (). Pembrokeshire has the dramatic coastline, traditional fishing harbours and dinky St David’s Cathedral. Linking them is the moderately challenging Celtic Trail West, a five-day self-guided loop with Drover Holidays (01497 821134; ), taking in pastel-painted Tenby and Dylan Thomas’s writing haven at Laugharne. From £535.
Flat and fabulous: Suffolk
As a bonus for beginners, East Anglia’s southernmost county is famously flat – but what it lacks in altitude, it compensates for with charm and character. The four-day self-guided Heritage Coast Encounter with Cyclebreaks (01449 721555; ) completes a loop of historic market towns, the magnificent 12th-century castle at Framlingham, bird-thronged Minsmere reserve and the brightly coloured beach huts and beers of Southwold. From £338.