Britain’s best coastal bike rides

people with bikes on the beach
cyclists on a coastal path
a couple with a bike look over a beach at dusk

It depends on how you measure it but by most calculations Britain has over 11,000 miles of coastline. Its length and beauty have inspired many adventurers to try and circumnavigate the island in a variety of ways, including on foot, by kayak and by bike.

If you’re not up for the challenge of tackling all 11,000 rugged miles in one go just yet there are some gorgeous shorter sections that are much more manageable. Our fantastic mapping team has been working hard to create new maps of some of our most popular routes, such as the South Coast Way, making it even easier to get out and explore Britain’s coast.

1. South Coast

Route 2 of the National Cycle Network takes you along the South Coast from Dover in the east to Dawlish in Devon. Along the way you get to experience stunning scenery, including the fabulous Jurassic Coast of Devon and Dorset, the bohemian city of Brighton and historic Hastings.

Tackling this stretch of the UK’s coast by bike or on foot is a wonderful way to take in its beauty and soak up the sea air as you go. The route is approximately 360 miles long so it’s certainly a challenge but one that will be made more than worthwhile thanks to the fantastic sights along the way.

There’s no need to tackle it all in one go either. With plenty of train stations along the route it should be quite possible to complete shorter sections. You’ll need to make sure you check the train company’s policy on bikes on trains before you buy your ticket.

Our two new maps of the route (in print for the first time) cover South Coast East (Brockenhurst to Dover) and South Coast West (Dawlish to Brockenhurst), making it even easier to break the route up into two shorter sections.

Buy the maps.

2. The Bay Cycle Way

How about taking in the gorgeous arc of Morecambe Bay? Often regarded as one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK this route starts in south Cumbria and carries you all the way to Lancashire.

If you’re short on time the route can be done in two days but if you’ve got a little longer then Morecambe Bay is the perfect location to linger. There are stunning views out to sea - if you’re lucky you might spot a seal or a rare bird such as an osprey or a red kite.

There are also some great tourist attractions en route such as Walney Island, Arnside Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Carnforth Museum of Cycling and Gleaston Water Mill.

If you slow it down and complete the route over four days of 20 miles then you’ll have plenty of time to take in the sights and enjoy the trip at a leisurely pace.

We’ve just re-printed an up to date version of this map. It’s the perfect companion for an easy introduction to long distance cycling.

Buy the map.

3. Celtic Trail West

In its entirety the Celtic Trail runs from Chepstow in east Wales and covers some of the most diverse scenery in the country en route to Pembrokeshire in west Wales. The eastern section is lovely and covers some gorgeous countryside, including the country parks of Sirhowy, Penelta and Taff Bargoed.

The terrain here is varied and the cycle route travels right into the heart of the South Wales Valleys, following many old railway paths that once transported raw materials from the mines.

However it’s the western section of the route that offers stunning coastal vistas. The western section starts in Swansea but you’ll quickly leave the city behind and reach the wild landscapes of south west Wales. Hugging the coastline you follow Route 4 around the south coast past gorgeous beaches and dramatic cliff top scenery.

You pass through postcard perfect Tenby, nearby National Trust owned Stackpole and the water lilies at Bosherston Lakes (definitely worth a detour) then on to St David’s, Britain’s smallest city and the final resting place of Wales’s patron saint.

The route touches on the edge of Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, a stunning area of natural beauty. The Celtic Trail then heads inland and back towards Carmarthen, although if you have the time you could detour north along Route 82 and take in some more of the country.

You’ll find some of the UK’s best beaches tucked into small coves along the coast of Wales. You can spot dolphins and seals in Cardigan Bay, which has the largest population of bottlenose dolphins in Europe.

Buy the map.

Explore more great cycle routes with the maps in our shop.

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