Five Great Cycling Weekends In The UK | SLMan
Lots of sports deliver memorable shared experiences, but few can do so against the ever-changing natural backdrop that cycling offers. Right now, the UK is blessed with some of the world’s finest cyclists – which might just be because we’ve also got some of the world’s finest cycling routes. For the enthusiastic amateurs among you, SLMan has rounded up five of the nation’s best destinations for a weekend on two wheels…

SURREY HILLS

Among the Surrey Hills, there is one that stands out. Box Hill was the toughest part of the 2012 Olympic road race (that lot had to get up and down it nine times, no less) and is now the centrepiece of the annual Ride London. If you’re London based, you can get up at dawn, pedal out to the hills and back, and be home for lunch. For anyone further afield, there are direct trains to Dorking (or even Box Hill itself) that take just an hour from Waterloo or Victoria. Once there, you’ll speed – or meander – through some of south-east England’s most accessible and beautiful scenery. A short 19km loop is a great introduction to the area and the views from the top of Box Hill will make the climb worthwhile. The twisting 2.5km ascent is a rewarding test of stamina for beginners and seasoned riders alike.

Where to stop for coffee: Peaslake Village Stores
Take a break at the crossways between Leith Hill, Holmbury Hill and Pitch Hill to warm up with coffee and homemade flapjacks.

Where to stop for lunch: The Abinger Hatch
A favourite among local wheelers, this quintessential English pub offers hearty lunches in front of a fire. Think pork belly or a really great cheddar soufflé with a side of macaroni cheese.

Where to stay the night: The Running Horses
Sleep in the shadow of Box Hill at this proper old pub which, as well as serving delicious food, has five charming, value-for-money bedrooms. If you’re looking for a road less travelled, you could also stay in a yurt.

Don't leave without: Visiting Nirvana Cycles for insider tips or, if you need it, getting your bike fixed.
 

MID WALES

Big climbs, thrilling descents and endless traffic-free roads – the routes of Mid Wales have all of them. And we’ve not even mentioned the wildlife and the castles. The Bwlch y Groes is one of the highest road climbs in Wales. Its alternative name, Hellfire Pass, gives you a sense of what’s in store. For something a little easier, the ascent up to Nant y Moch reservoir is a local favourite and has the feel of an Alpine pass, with stunning views of the river valley below.

Where to stop for coffee: Latte-da Coffee & Kitchen
Grab a hot drink and a slice of homemade cake at this popular cyclist café, where all produce is locally sourced and staff are very accommodating about bikes.

Where to stop for lunch: Drover Cycles Café
Fuel up with a high-energy packed lunch. You can also get your bike looked at by the onsite mechanic.

Where to stay the night: Sugar House Farmhouse
Base yourself in Abergavenny and rent the Sugar House Farmhouse. Or head further north to Haye on Wye and sleep at the Old Black Lion, where Oliver Cromwell went into hiding while Hay Castle was besieged

Don't leave without: Stopping for a pint in the historic underground bar of Llanthony Priory Hotel. The bar lies in the bowels of 11th-century Llanthony Priory, which was built by Augustinian monks and sits at the foot of the Black Mountains.
 

YORKSHIRE DALES

When the Tour de France blasted through here in 2014, the secret got out: Yorkshire is one of the world’s best cycling locations. Grassington is a vibrant village in the Dales and the starting point of Kidstones Pass, which was part of Le Tour’s route. Experienced riders might fancy the 45 leg-aching miles through Hawes and Coverdale but, for a shorter route (that’s still challenging), try the 29-mile circular starting at the market town of Skipton. It takes you to Grassington via Bolton Abbey and past some breath-taking scenery.

Where to stop for coffee: Cobblestones Café
A traditional tea room with top-notch cakes and great coffee, the food service and hospitality for cyclists are both first class.

Where to stop for lunch: The Devonshire 
In the heart of the Dales, this pub delivers everything you could hope for from a local boozer: open fires, hearty food and Yorkshire ales.

Where to stay the night: Studfold
For incredible views, camp at the family-run site of Studfold; or glamp in one of its newly built pods. Grassington also has welcoming B&Bs and pubs with roaring fireplaces and cosy rooms. A five-minute from the centre, the Kirkfield Guest House has five rooms, a secure bike lock-up and ample parking. Come morning, there’s breakfast cooked on the aga and fruit picked from the garden.

Don't leave without:
A visit to the Tan Inn. Standing lonely on the Pennine Way, this is the highest pub in Britain. Stop for a beer, lunch or stay the night. With a roaring fire, this 17th-century inn is steeped in history.
 

LAKE DISTRICT

With everything from quiet lanes to challenging climbs and World Heritage Sites, it’s no wonder cyclists flock to this National Park. If your legs can hack it, the Lakeland Loop will take some beating in the beauty stakes. Once voted Britain’s best bike ride, this tough 65km circuit shows off the lakes at their very best. With the opening kilometres hugging the shoreline of Lake Coniston, it’s clear why cyclists hold the route in such high regard. For those in the know, Wrynose Pass will induce a cold sweat, with gradients reaching 30% but, once again, it’s a challenge worth undertaking for its final payoff.

Where to stop for coffee: Abbey Mill Coffee Shop
At the bottom of a natural amphitheatre overlooking the stunning 11th-century Furness Abbey, this one boasts a huge coffee and cake menu, and is known for serving the best afternoon tea for miles around.

Where to stop for lunch: The Yard Kitchen
The Yard Kitchen has excellent, locally sourced food and a great atmosphere within a vibrant ‘yard’ full of books and antiques. A must-visit when in Penrith.

Where to stay the night: Bank House Penrith
Just off the M6 or direct by train from London Euston, Penrith is a great starting point. The Bank House B&B has bike storage and tools available for any repairs. Or hire a shepherd hut and soak tired legs in the hot tub at Crake Trees Manor.

Don't leave without: Taking in the incredible Aira Force waterfalls, where rainwater runs from the fells into Aira Beck, thundering down in one 65ft leap.

 

ISLE OF SKYE

Yorkshire is taking all the plaudits on the professional circuit, but if you want something a little quieter, it’s time to look further north. The natural beauty around Scotland’s highland roads is unparalleled. To really get away from it all and cycle the wilderness, head to the Isle of Skye. If you fly, check out Skye Bike Shack for bike hire. Its website also has excellent route descriptions and downloadable maps.

Where to stop for coffee: Single Track Art Gallery & Espresso Bar
Hot Chocolate is the star of the drinks menu here, but you can also count on great coffee and cakes. The views aren’t bad either.
 

Where to stop for lunch: The Old Inn
The Old Inn is a cosy pub set on the shores of Loch Harport. Popular with locals as well as tourists and hill walkers, The Old Inn offers a warm highland welcome as well as local dishes such as haggis, neeps and tatties pastry.  If you've got time to spare after lunch, visit the Talisker distillery which is just next door, just don't get too stuck in if you are planning on riding again in the afternoon. 

Where to stay the night: Nunton House Hostel
Catch a ferry to the Outer Hebrides, crash at Nunton House Hostel, then take on some or all of the 185-mile Hebridean Way cycling route, which crosses ten islands in the archipelago.

Don't leave without:
Swimming in the Fairy Pools. Glen Brittle is home to deep blue river pools filled with crystal-clear mountain water from the Cuillin. They’ve become popular for wild swimming, if you’re brave enough to face the year-round chill.
 

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