1. The best route for: FAMILIES
Location: Isle of Wight
Route name: Red Squirrel Trail
Distance: 15 miles
Train stations: Sandown and Ryde. Reach the Isle of Wight by ferry from Portsmouth.
Route description: Nicknamed “Britain in miniature”, the Isle of Wight has the most superb coast to coast route in miniature too. Rolling hillsides, wisteria-covered tearooms, thatched cottages and traditional pubs are all quintessentially British, but the golden beaches and sapphire seas are akin to the Mediterranean. The trail is car-free on mainly flat, gentle routes so it is perfect for families and people of all ages and cycling abilities. Much of the trail runs along purpose-made tracks along the Isle of Wight’s disused railway lines, ensuring a leisurely cycle through the Island’s countryside.
1. The best route for: HISTORY LOVERS
Route name: Silkin Way
Distance: 7 miles
Train station: Telford Central
Route description: Ironbridge’s status as the birthplace of the industrial revolution doesn’t do justice to the tremendous natural beauty that this World Heritage Site also offers. This gentle ride through Ironbridge Gorge takes in Shropshire’s industrial past and scenic present. Today, the gorge is home to ten museums celebrating the social and industrial history of the area. You can also visit the famous Iron Bridge, one of Shropshire’s most famous landmarks, which crosses the River Severn at the Ironbridge Gorge. The Silkin Way is a wonderful, well-surfaced cycling and walking route which provides a green corridor from Telford to Ironbridge Gorge. The route uses a mixture of canal beds and disused railway lines and passes through woodland, meadow and parkland.
3. The best route for: AMAZING VIEWS
Route name: High Peak Trail
Distance: 11.5 miles
Train station: Cromford is nearest to the route’s start.
Route description: The High Peak Trail follows the line of the former Cromford and High Peak Railway, this route takes in the stunning Derbyshire Dales countryside between Middleton Top and Parsley Hay. From Middleton Top, the trail climbs the short, sharp Hopton incline before following a long, stone-built causeway into White Peak Country. The views across the Peak District’s craggy limestone landscape are simply staggering on this exposed, top-of-the-world ride along part of the Pennine Bridleway. The trail is also rich in wildlife with an abundance of wild flowers in spring and summer.
4. The best route for: NATURE SPOTTING
Route name: Mawddach Trail
Distance: 9.5 miles
Train stations: Barmouth and Morfa Mawddach
Route description: Possibly the finest and most memorable traffic-free trail of all, this is nine miles of perfection along the heavenly Mawddach Estuary in North Wales. There are views across to the hills to the north rising to over 2000ft. The estuary is rich in bird life and you’ll pass the Mawddach Valley – Arthog Bog RSPB reserve, which uses the old signal box is used as an observation centre. The reserve covers almost six hectares and is renowned for its rare and special plants, like the ‘Touch-me-not balsam’ (Impatiens noli-tangere) and the nationally scarce ‘wavy St Johns wort’. This was recently discovered at the site for which it is thought to be at its northern limit of its known world distribution.