1. Aire Valley Towpath between Keighley to Saltaire, West Yorkshire
This popular six mile route goes from the market town of Keighley to Saltaire along the Aire Valley canal towpath. There is a wealth of industrial heritage on route, including the Five and Three Rise Locks at Bingley. These spectacular listed staircase locks were built in 1774 and are still operational. Continuing along the towpath you’ll cross the River Aire on the stunning Dowley Gap Aquaduct. From here, it’s onto your final destination of Saltaire – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This Victorian model village boasts a major art gallery, independent cafes and shops in beautiful listed buildings. It’s easy to then hop on a train from Saltaire station back to Keighley.
2. Rainham Marshes, Greater London
This six mile route takes you to Rainham Marshes, transformed by the RSPB into a wonderful place for nature. This route around the marshes can either be done as a one-way route starting at Rainham and finishing at Purfleet (you can catch the train back), or as a slightly longer circular ride or walk. This summer, keep your eyes peeled for little egrets, lapwings, swifts, starlings, yellow wagtails and oystercatchers.
3. Phoenix Trail, Oxfordshire
The five mile Phoenix Trail is a tranquil path between Thame and Princes Risborough. Rich in wildlife, the trail is particularly renowned for the red kites that thrive in the area. The trail also features 30 different artworks and has magnificent views of the nearby Chiltern Hills. The Phoenix Trail is flat and well-surfaced, with seating every 500 metres.
4. Exe Valley Ride, Exeter
This five mile route follows the western bank of the River Exe from Exwick, through Exeter’s historic and attractive Quay and then through the Riverside Valley Park between the Exeter Canal and the river to the village of Exminster. The route takes in some fantastic views along the River Exe and Exe Estuary, which is a beautiful wildlife reserve. Surrounding the estuary are marshes, which provide a year-round haven for thousands of birds and are looked after by the RSPB.
5. Tarka Trail, North Devon
The traffic free Tarka Trail is the perfect way to explore the North Devonshire AONB, travelling between Braunton and Meeth. The total length of the route is 30 miles, but it’s easy to choose a smaller section to explore – one of our favourites is the 3.5 mile section between Bideford and Instow, with picturesque views over to Appledore. The route offers superb views across the mouth of the Taw Estuary with lots of wildlife habitats to explore along the way. There are regular buses to take you back to your start point if you don’t fancy the return journey.
All images: ©Sustrans