The National Cycle Network is signed using a system modelled on the Danish Cycle Network and adopted by the Department for Transport, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Executive. The same system is now being adopted by a number of other European countries.
The signs show the number of the route that is being followed: National Route numbers are shown against a red patch and Regional Route numbers are shown against a blue patch.
The National Route numbering system is similar to the original A-road numbering system introduced in the 1920's, with primary routes radiating clockwise from London, and their branches adding digits to the primary number. National Cycle Network routes beginning with numbers 1-6 are generally in England, those beginning with 7 start in the far north of England and Scotland. Those beginning with 8 are generally in Wales and those starting with 9 are in Northern Ireland.
Please note that some of these routes currently consist of incomplete sections. Click on the links to visit the individual route pages for further information and a breakdown of the route into stages.
National Route 1 runs from Dover to the Shetlands via London, the east coast of the UK, Edinburgh, John o'Groats and the Orkneys. Branches are mainly in the East of England, numbered 10 to 19.
National Route 2 runs along the south coast of England, from Dover to St. Austell with branches numbered in the twenties.
National Route 3 goes from Bristol to Land's End in Cornwall, includes the West Country Way & the Cornish Way and has branches numbered in the thirties.
National Route 4 runs from London to Fishguard on the west coast of Wales, with branches numbered in the forties, many of which are in South Wales.
National Route 5 runs from Reading up through Birmingham via Chester, along the North Wales coast to Holyhead. It has branches numbered in the fifties, generally in central England.
National Route 6 connects London to the Lake District, with branches numbered in the sixties. One of these is the Pennine Cycleway from Derby to Berwick-on-Tweed.
National Route 7 goes from Sunderland to Inverness, with branches in the seventies in Northern England and Scotland. All Scottish routes are in the seventies apart from National Route 1.
National Route 8 is called Lôn Las Cymru and runs from Cardiff to Holyhead through the heart of Wales. It has branches in the eighties, predominantly in Wales.
National Route 9 presently runs from Belfast to Newry but is planned to continue to Dublin. All other routes in Northern Ireland are in the nineties.
National Route 10 runs from Cockermouth to North Shields as the majority of The Reivers Cycle Route. Roughly parallel to the C2C and Hadrian's Cycleway it is a branch of National Route 1.
Regional routes are an integral part of the National Cycle Network, serving to link more areas and towns to the Network.
Sharing the same characteristics as National routes, Regional routes include a number of established county cycle routes, such as the Avon Cycleway. Sustrans is currently embarking on a project to re-number and re-classify Regional routes as National routes, which comprises the allocation of new two- and three-digit numbers to the routes in the same fashion as detailed above, making each route a branch of an established National route.
The present Regional route numbering system that is being phased out, divides the UK into ten regions with Regional Routes numbered 10-99 within each region. The signing convention is the same as for the National Routes except for using a blue, rather than red number patch.