Child Friendly Disused Railway Cycle Trails
It would appear when it comes to cycling, we Brits have taken over the world. Whether it is speeding around the velodrome, sprinting down the Champs-Elyses or time trials at Hampton Court, we have got it sussed.
No surprise then when we ask our Little Trekkers Ambassadors to write about their family adventures so many of their blog posts involve cycling. Some of the best family cycling routes around the UK are those situated on old railway line routes and are ideal for all members of the family (even those whose legs are still to tiny to reach the pedals).
Here is our Top Ten list of cycle tracks to get you pedaling.
The Monsal Trail - The Peak District
OS Explorer 24: White Peak
The Monsal Trail is a good place to cycle with children as it is a traffic free route and runs for 8½ miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell. It is also quite level and well surfaced. The former Midland Railway Line route runs through some of the Peak District’s most spectacular limestone dales, going though tunnels, cuttings and viaducts.
The longer tunnels are lit and so are safe to ride through from dawn to dusk. There are car parks and toilets at Bakewell, Hassop, Monsal Head & Millers Dale. Cycle hire is also available at Hassop Station and Blackwell Mill.
Kielder Water and Forest Park, Northumberland
Now this is one for the mountain bike riders. Well, when we say one, there are actually thirteen cycle trails on offer depending on your experience, in the spectacular setting of the Kielder Forest. The Borderline trail follows the former Border Counties railway line and is a good all rounder for all the family to enjoy.
Did You Know?
With a massive 27 miles of shoreline, Kielder Water is Europe’s biggest man made lake.
Family Cycle Trail - Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean
OS Explorer OL14 Wye Valley & Forest of Dean
The Forest of Dean is a haven for outdoor loving families in one of the most picturesque places in the British Isles.
There are several cycle trails to choose from, but the best one for families is the Family Cycle Trail. It is a 9¼ miles route through forest and woodlands, on a wide graveled track. It is mostly level with some short climbs, making it suitable for all ages and abilities. The trail runs along the old Severn and Wye railway line passing former stations along the way.
There are public toilets at the Pedalbikeaway Cycle Centre, where you can also hire bikes and at Beechenhurst Lodge, there is a large café to enjoy.
The Strawberry Line - North Somerset
National Cycle Network Route 26
The Strawberry Line in Somerset is a 10 mile route starting from the Railway Inn at Yatton and finishing at Old Station Close at Cheddar. It is almost traffic free, with gravel paths and no steep gradients.
This route is a former railway line and gets its name form the strawberries it used to carry from the Mendip Hills. It takes you through flat marshes, apple orchards, wooded valleys and the Cheddar Gorge, so they’ll be no shortage of cheese for your picnic. There are cafés all along this cycle route, so you can stop for a quick drink or snack along the way.
Tissington Trail – Derbyshire
OS Explorer 24: White Peak
The Tissington Trail in the Peak District is a 13 mile cycle route along the former Ashbourne to Buxton railway line. It is an easy, traffic free route which is flat apart from one small incline.
There are picnic tables and toilets at the former stations at Tissington and Hartington. Cycle hire is also available at either end of the trail at Ashbourne and Parsley Hay.
Look Out For
In summer there is usually an explosion of butterflies for you to admire along the way.
The Troll Trail - Isle of Wight
National Cycle Network Route 23
The Troll Trail between Merstone and Shide is a well surfaced traffic free route perfect for young children just starting to ride. Best of all you can spot the trolls hiding under the bridges as you go, and the one thing the Troll Trail has is plenty of bridges!
If you’re going on this trail make sure you have your camera and a notebook handy to keep a record of all the stunning wildlife you will encounter such as; wagtails, (who just like trolls enjoy hiding under bridges), buzzards, green woodpeckers, butterflies and dragonflies.
Did You Know?
The Isle of Wight is one of the rare places in the British Isles where you can still see red squirrels.
Moray Coast Ride
National Cycle Network Route 1
The 9½ mile ride from Portgordon to Cullen along this dramatic coastal route on the old Moray Firth Coast Railway gives fantastic views of the Moray Coast and its fishing villages. You end the route by crossing over the striking Cullen viaduct.
You’ll have the perfect excuse to decide who is Scotland’s best ice cream maker by visiting the Ice Cream Cabin in West Church Street, Buckie and the Ice Cream Shop in Seafield Street, Cullen.
Look Out For
Dolphins are often spotted around the Moray coastline.
The North Wiltshire Rivers Route - Melksham, Wiltshire
National Cycle Route 4
This cycle route is more for older children as it is 25 miles, but you could do it in small sections instead, it is also traffic free. It runs alongside the River Avon to Chippenham and onto Calne via a disused railway line.
There are plenty of opportunities for sight seeing as the Cherhill White Horse, Avebury stone circle and Lacock Abbey (which appeared in some of the Harry Potter films) are all along this route.
The Cuckoo Trail – East Sussex
National Cycling Network route 21
This is a 11 mile surfaced path with gentle gradients that go through the Sussex countryside and it is mostly traffic free. It follows the former 'Cuckoo Line' railway track from Polegate station to Heathfield.
On your way you will come across sculptures and other art work to admire. There are some wonderful wooden benches carved from oak trees that fell during the great storm of 1987.
Look Out For
Butterflies, especially the orange-tip. You may also see bullfinches, the lesser whitethroat, cuckoos and weasels.
Mawddach Trail Cycleway – Wales
National Cycle Routes 8 and 82
This trail is 10 miles long which follows an old railway line from Dolgellau and finishes at the end of Barmouth rail bridge. As the path follows an old railway line it is pretty flat all the way.
You will be spoilt with breathtaking views on either side on this trail with Rhinog hill on one side and the Cadair Idris Massif on the other. The Mawddach estuary is also home to not one but two RSPB reserves at Coed Garth Gell and Arthog Bog.
While You’re Out and About
Why not also go to Barmouth beach?
...and if you fancy a trail further afield
Well the other side of the world to be precise, the Otago Central Rail Trail in New Zealand might be for you.
Visit Our Ambassador Blog
For more cycling inspiration, check out our Little Trekkers' Ambassador's blog.
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- Tags: cycling