The Best Overnight Bicycle Adventures in the UK
As you guys probably know, I’m sponsored by a pretty damn awesome nutrition company, TRIBE. These UK based purveyors of amazing snacks, bars, shakes and hydration are so rooted in nature and the great outdoors that for this month’s ‘TRIBE Dispatch’ on their blog, I wanted to write about thetimes outside training and racing that I use their products.
One time when I always pack TRIBE Natural Oat bars is when I’m heading away on a mini adventure, something I try to do as frequently as possible. So it made sense to share my favourite UK overnight bikepacking and cycle touring adventures with you guys.
Photos: George Marshall for TRIBE
Adventure cycling, bikepacking, cycle touring, call it what you will, riding from place to place and tackling a variety of terrain on your bike has become incredibly popular over the last few years. Many of us have bought into a lifestyle that prioritises experiences over possessions and authenticity over superficiality so bikepacking is a natural fit. Dreamy images on Instagram have reeled us all in and many of us now choose an overnight bike trip in place of the dated ‘minibreak.’
Though there’s no doubt that canny bike & luggage marketing folk have helped push this trend to the fore in a bid to sell us more stuff, at the same time, I don’t think it pays to be too cynical. After all, those same companies are making bikepacking more accessible, enjoyable and affordable with their appealing lightweight equipment and that can only be a good thing.
Bike packing is cheap, environmentally sound, convenient and healthy, tapping into our need to disconnect, unwind and slow down. It can be as ambitious or as low key as you want it to be. You can ride straight from home, go credit-card touring (staying in hotels) or bivouac in the most isolated spot you can find. It’s slow enough to be relaxing but not so slow as to be boring. It truly is the bee’s knees.
I’m sure that you, dear reader, can think of plenty of excursions you’d like to make – my list is about as long as my arm. But if you’re looking for inspiration, here are my favourite British bike-packing and adventure cycling getaways, from one night getaways/microadventures to multiday off-road escapes.
- The Ridgeway
This largely off-road route runs from Ivinghoe Beacon to Avebury, passing through some stunning landscapes in the Chilterns and North Wessex Downs. Packed with fascinating Neolithic sites thanks to its 5000 years history, the Ridgeway, the UK’s oldest trading route makes a fantastic first bikepacking expedition. If you’re in reasonable shape you can ride the entire route in two days and you don’t even need to carry much equipment; it’s perfectly possible to simply eat at pubs, markets and shop (if you take short detours) and there’s a lovely campsite half way through.
More info here.
- Devon Coast to Coast
At roughly 100 miles, Devon’s coast-to-coast cycle route takes you all the way from surf hot spot Ilfracombe to the UK’s sunniest ocean city of Plymouth. Despite being in Devon, the route is actually pretty flat and as much of it is either traffic free or own quiet back roads, it’s a family friendly, hassle free adventure.
Whilst it’s certainly possible to ride the entire route in one day, why hurry? Using National Cycle Routes 27 and 3, the route dips into Dartmoor where it’s legal to ‘wild camp,’ the only place in England where it’s permissible to do so.
More info here.
- Trans Cambrian Way
The Trans Cambrian Way is an epic 100-mile mountain bike trail snaking it’s way through the rugged Welsh mountains from the English boarder to the Irish Sea. I’ve not actually done it yet but it’s way up there on my bucket list; it sounds like a fantastic journey as it’s pretty wild but not too far from home.
From what I’ve heard, a decent standard of fitness and at least some bike handing skills are necessary, as it a suitable mountain bike and a backpack stocked with spares. The climbs are challenging, there are bogs and river crossings aplenty and delightful pools, ridges, woods and exposed moorland.
At least three days are needed to complete the ride. There are plenty of B&Bs and pubs to stay in or you could pack a tent and either pitch up in the wilderness (with the landowner’s permission or find a campsite.
- Peak District
I grew up in the Peak District and absolutely love visiting my parents who still live there. It’s beautiful, accessible, there are great trails and quiet roads (if you take the right route) and you’re never far from a good cake.
Beginning in Sheffield you can enjoy some fantastic trails weaving through the granite ‘edges’ the area is known for before making your way deeper into the National Park via some beautiful stretches of moorland. There are great campsites in Hathersage and Hope; either would make either an ideal base for daily road or mountain bike excursions or would be perfect stopovers if you prefer to keep travelling.
The area above Hope and Edale has yet more fantastic trails, Ladybower reservoir is perfect for a gentle pedal and if you’re into road cycling, a visit to Winnat’s Pass is obligatory.
I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration to get out on your bicycle for a night or two! Stay tuned for more details of TRIBE’s competition. And don’t forget you can try out a box of TRIBE’s 100% natural performance nutrition for just £1 using my code JULIETELLIOTT at the checkout.