May 05, 2022
Active Travel

6 Of The Best Family-Friendly UK Cycling Routes

By Jonathan Oldaker

Easily accessible, traffic-free cycling routes are ideal for families of all ages and sizes. Without having to worry about traffic or high mountain passes, there’s enough time to chat and ample space to enjoy the trail.

There are plenty of incredible routes up and down the UK. Some using old railway routes, others sticking to canal paths and estuaries.

With more popular routes, more people may come in the summer months, but that means you’ll also have better access to hire bikes and cafes.

Here’s our selection of six family friendly favourites.


1. The Camel Trail (Cornwall)

Running from either Wadebridge or Bodmin through to Padstow, the Camel Trail hugs the Camel estuary with scenic views and easy-going, flat, cycling trails.

Ever popular, the trail continues to grow in popularity. As such, you’ll find many shops offering cycle hire in Wadebridge.

At Padstow you’re greeted by the wonderful harbour and quaint streets. Pick up fish & chips, a pasty, or an ice cream before heading back to Wadebridge, or Bodmin if you’d prefer to extend the route.

The stretch from Wadebridge to Padstow is entirely off-road, and plenty of parking is available.

Distance: 19.5km (Bodmin to Padstow)


2. Tarka Trail (Devon)

Staying in the South West, the Tarka Trail is nearly 50 kilometres of traffic-free bliss. Utilising an old railway track it begins in Braunton running up to the North Devon coast.

The trail is simple to navigate and being free from cars it is ideal for families. With lovely views over the Taw Estuary as well as myriad natural habitats including marshland, woodlands and coppices, it is a peaceful and relaxing route.

Distance: 48.7km


3. Swale Trail (Yorkshire Dales)

In the Swaledale valley of the Yorkshire Dales is this largely off-road and unpaved route. Don’t be put off by the Dales – this route doesn’t involve any high passes – instead you’ll follow the valley for 20 kilometres of relatively flat trail.

This is a perfect introduction to mountain biking, especially for children, with much of the surfaces unpaved.

The Swale Trail runs between Reeth and Keld. Around a quarter of the route is on near traffic-free lanes, with the rest fully off-road. Bike hire, cafes, and stopping places are all located along the way.

Distance: 20km


4. Marriott’s Way (Norfolk)

Another disused railway, the Marriott’s Way leaves Norwich for 40 kilometres toward the historic town of Aylsham.

There are pubs and places to stop signposted off the main route, which begins fully paved before meandering through fields and paths.

Surrounded by nature and glorious countryside, it is hard not to imagine yourself in Anglo Saxon England.

Distance: 29.6km


5. The Caledonian Way (Scotland)

Start at Fort Augustus to join a traffic-free and relatively flat section of the epic Caledonian Way. You and your family can sample a part of the whole route which in total runs between Inverness and Campbeltown.

The section from Fort Augustus is on a towpath, meaning things stay flat and easy for all abilities. Caledonian lunch cafe is the ideal spot for lunch.

The whole of the Caledonian Way is well sign-posted and you should have no problem following the route.

Distance: 25km


6. Cinder Track (North Yorkshire)

Travel from Scarborough to Whitby on a predominantly off-road and popular family route. The Cinder Track, unlike most other routes here, does involve a few gentle hills making it more of a challenge for younger children and those less experienced.

Whitby Abbey, Scarborough castle and the Captain Cook memorial museum are all en-route giving you great options to make a whole day or weekend visiting this amazing stretch of UK coastline.

Distance: 35km

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