Top bike rides through Areas of Outstanding National Beauty
In the second of our route series with Sustrans we're packing our panniers and discovering some of the UK's most jaw-droppingly beautiful Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
1. Across the Isle of Wight AONB
At 13 miles by 23, the Isle of Wight is a perfect size for exploring by bike. As it has no through traffic its lanes are pretty quiet, and it is blessed with a mild climate and largely unspoiled countryside - nearly half of the island is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Starting in Cowes in the north of the Island and finishing at Sandown in the east, the ride includes two long sections of railway path. The first starts to the West of Cowes and runs alongside the River Medina. The second section is joined at Shide to the South of Newport and runs through lovely countryside to the outskirts of Sandown.
2. Causeway Coast Cycle Route (AONB)
This stunning 23-mile cycle route runs along the North Atlantic coast from Castlerock to the Giant's Causeway via Coleraine. Passing through the resort towns of Portrush and Portstewart, the route features several short climbs and two longer climbs, one between Castlerock and Coleraine and another between Portrush and Bushmills. Along the way, you can enjoy fine sea views from Barmouth across the mouth of the River Bann, and also over the sandy beach at Portstewart across to Scotland and the Mull of Kintyre. From Bushmills, you can follow a section of railway path to the Giant's Causeway - a World Heritage Site and a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
3. Peregrine Path (Wye Valley AONB)
This is a great 8 mile ride that straddles the Wales/England border, following the River Wye from the historic town of Monmouth in south east Wales to Goodrich in Herefordshire. The route will take you past The Kymin, a well-known picnic spot set within nine acres of glorious parkland and offering panoramic views across Wales. From here it’s on to Wye Gorge and Symonds Yat, where there are places to hire canoes and some inviting watering holes. The area is also the gateway for a steady climb to Symonds Yat Rock where nesting Peregrine Falcons can be spotted. Ride on and off a minor road and on the top of a wooded hill you can marvel at imposing Goodrich Castle.
4. Camel Trail (Cornwall AONB)
Nearly a third of Cornwall is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Camel Estuary makes up a beautiful part of it. This broad tidal river valley is over half a mile wide at Padstow and stretches inland for five miles up to Wadebridge. The 18 mile, traffic free Camel Trail lets you explore this area taking you from Wenford Bridge all the way to the estuary at Padstow. With coastal views, seaside towns, pretty moorland and wildlife rich woodland - this route really has it all.
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