Published: 9th OCTOBER 2019

Great walks on the National Cycle Network

The National Cycle Network criss-crosses the entire United Kingdom, running through spectacular rural countryside and past many hidden urban gems. Many of these routes are not just great to cycle but are perfect for a leisurely amble on foot. We've asked our teams from around the UK to tell us their favourite walks.

Metal sculpture of highland cow in countryside with cycle path, houses and hills in the background

Strathyre to Mhor 84 Motel (or Lochearnhead), Scotland / National Cycle Route 7

From: Strathyre, To: Mhor 84 or Lochearnhead Hotel
Distance: 2.5 miles (50 minutes one-way) or 6 miles (2 hours one-way) 

This stunning, traffic-free walk begins at the Broch Café in the village of Strathyre and meanders through the vivid seasonal colours of Strathyre Forest and the rugged surrounding landscape of Rob Roy Country. Stop at Mhor 84 for fresh farm food, or continue along the path towards Lochearnhead where, after a brisk climb, spectacular views across Loch Earn await. En route keep an eye out for some very Scottish characters - a unique selection of sculptures created by local artists.

The Caledonia Canal, Scotland / National Cycle Route 78

From: Corpach train station, nr. Fort William To: Gairlochy
Distance: 8 miles (3 hours one-way)

Follow the gentle off-road path alongside the Caledonia Canal to experience some of the Great Glen’s most majestic scenery. Setting off from the northernmost banks of Loch Linnhe, the route runs alongside Neptune’s Staircase, a stunning feat of engineering which raises the Caledonian Canal by 67 feet over a quarter of a mile stretch. Continuing in the formidable shadow of Ben Nevis, the path provides stunning vistas towards the Grampian Mountains before ending at the southern bank of Loch Lochy beside the "Pepperpot" lighthouse - a perfect picnic spot at the water’s edge.  

Two women walking on path strewn with fallen leaves through woods

Maerdy Mountain to Rhigos, Glamorgan / National Cycle Route 47

From: Llanwonno, To: Craig Y Llyn
Distance: 9.3 miles (3 hours)

With fantastic views over the Brecon Beacons, this is a day out not to be missed. Begin at the lovely pub, the Brynffynon in Llanwonno and follow signs for Route 47 into the coniferous Gwynno Forest. Through the trees spot the remains of old Roman Camps and views of the Cynon and Rhondda valleys.

The top of Maerdy Mountain marks the halfway point. Cross the A4233 and continue towards Lluest-wen Reservoir and Rhondda Fach Windfarm. Stop for a moment to take in the stunning but slightly surreal setting of wind turbines towering over the forest like a scene from War of the Worlds. After this, continue on the wide forestry trail until you cross the A4061 and make a short detour off Route 47 on a track along the edge of the forest. Here, the path heads north-west, until you reach Craig Y Llyn (Rhigos Mountain) and yet more spectacular views.

The Peregrine Path, Wye Valley / National Cycle Network 423

From/To: Monmouth
Distance: 12 miles (5 hours to complete)

This unique traffic-free route straddles the England and Wales border within the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It follows the River Wye through the upper Wye Gorge and connects Monmouth to Symonds Yat, where there are a variety of cafes and pubs right by the river to refuel and enjoy a well-earned rest.

For the more adventurous, there is the option at Symonds Yat to climb the steep and winding path (500ft) up to the Symonds Yat Rock. Here you can see panoramic views of the gorge and the possibility of nesting peregrine falcons hunting on the nearby cliffs.

Person with backpack walking on gravel track through sunny woods

Coate Water Park to Hodson, Swindon / National Cycle Route 45

From / To: Coate Water Park
Distance: 6 miles (3 hours)

Start in Coate Water Park and from the car park walk around the east side of Coate Water lake and nature reserve until you meet the track signed Route 45. Follow the signs over the motorway to the edge of Chiseldon where you’ll see views back over Swindon.

At the top of the hill turn right onto a tarmac bridleway to Hodson Road, then turn immediately right again onto a private track. From here you can follow footpaths to Hodson through a pretty chalk valley and past the Calley Arms pub. After Hodson, return along the footpath to Route 45, just north of the motorway. Follow the path back to Coate Water Park and return to the car park around the west side of the lake.

The Crab and Winkle Way / National Cycle Route 1

From: Canterbury West Train Station, To: Whitstable
Distance: 7.5 miles (3 hours)

Harbour views, varied landscape, great food and plenty of local history feature at either end of this beautiful walk. Starting at Canterbury West station follow signs to the university along the edge of Beverley Meadow and up the steep path out of the city to the University of Kent.

Go down Parkwood Road to the rear of the campus and pass by the colourful woodland to National Cycle Route 1. From here, follow the traffic-free path and enjoy the varying views and landscape as it meanders north to Whitstable's train station. Find the steps in the corner of the car park to join the Stream Walk footpath to continue all the way to the harbourside where you can admire the fantastic views across the estuary.

The ‘Triangle’ bus route from the harbour will bring you back to Canterbury.

Thick woodland with green leaves and mist

Penistone to Dunford Bridge (Trans Pennine Trail) / National Cycle Network 62

From/To: Penistone Train Station
Distance: 13 miles return journey (4 hours to walk there and back)

This beautiful walk takes you from the busy market town of Penistone to the rolling moors of the Peak District at Dunford Bridge. This quiet and traffic-free path is surrounded by wildflowers in Spring and follows the route of the old Great Central Railway as it winds its way through glorious countryside, with stunning views across a valley.  Join the route directly from the station through a wooden gate at the east end of the platform (signposted); turn right, and continue. Don’t forget to visit the Magic Wood just beyond Hazlehead Bridge Station and Wogden Foot Nature Reserve, an important habitat for wildlife alongside the route as it approaches Dunford Bridge.

The Flitch Way, Braintree to Rayne / National Cycle Network 16

From/To: Braintree Railway Station
Distance: 5 miles (1.5 hours)

This easy five-mile route takes you through Flitch Way Country Park from Braintree to Rayne and back again. Starting at Braintree Station, turn west and pass through the car park, carrying on until you see a sign for Essex County Council Flitch Way Country Park. From here, you’ll walk through deep gorges, open vistas over farmland, and past delightful mature oak trees. It’s worth noting that the route climbs gently from the Pods Brook Road Bridge up to the Victorian Rayne Booking Hall Café, situated in the former Station Masters House. Make sure you stop off here for a coffee and light snack before retracing your steps.

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