With many of the National Cycle Network’s routes passing a National Trust or National Trust for Scotland property, you can combine a walk or cycle with a visit to one of the UK’s most intriguing historic sites or places of great natural beauty.
Powis Castle's extensive formal gardens and woodland are a must see, with views across the Severn Valley. Credit: National Trust/Andrew Butler
Get a healthy dose of nature, culture and history at these National Trust and National Trust for Scotland sites. Explore the country estates, houses and rich landscapes of your local area or plan a trip further afield to learn about the UK's heritage.
If you’re after woodlands, meadows, wetlands and cultivated gardens with somewhere to grab a tasty treat at the end, this 600-acre Georgian landscape garden is for you.
The zip line, wildlife spotting and adventure play area will keep the kids occupied while you browse the second-hand bookshop or sip coffee in the café.
Gibside is located close to the traffic-free section of National Route 14.
Lying within the Chilterns Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this nature-rich area of chalky grassland has miles of footpaths for wildlife walks and breathtaking views, with a café and gift shop for a post-walk rest.
History buffs will want to check out the Neolithic burial mounds, and the site can be accessed via the mostly traffic-free National Route 574.
Explore the country estates, houses and rich landscapes of your local area. Credit: NT/Wicken Fen
Nestled close to York Minster, this historic townhouse contains a collection of prized artworks, antiques and furniture, along with a tranquil garden where you can view the cathedral.
It lies a short distance from National Route 658.
This area is one of Europe’s most important wetlands.
It’s rich in flowery meadows and marshy reedbeds: a joy for wildlife lovers.
Said to contain 9000 species of plant and animal life, you’ll spot Highland cattle and Konik ponies grazing across the fens.
The nature reserve can be reached via National Route 11, which runs through the reserve.
It can be explored on foot or by bike and the Boardwalk Trail is pushchair and wheelchair friendly.
Windmill near Lamb House in Rye. Credit: David Young/Sustrans
Along with a three-acre community garden that’s free to explore, this 18th-century merchant’s home hosts a range of exhibitions centred around its many interesting inhabitants across the years.
Every two years, the interior is changed to bring a different inhabitant’s story to life.
Outside, the garden is an oasis for butterflies, birds and wildflowers.
The largely traffic-free Rainham Marshes ride on National Route 13 passes close to the property.
Whether you’re interested in literature, history or would merely like to discover the pretty town of Rye, this Georgian house is worth a visit.
Both Henry James and the novelist EF Benson lived and worked here, and there’s a charming garden and courtyard tea room for visitors to enjoy.
Palladian Bridge at Prior Park, near Bath. Credit: Emily Wilson
In addition to the 17th-century manor house, there are a variety of thriving gardens to explore on the property, paying testament to its former function as a farming estate.
Younger guests will be entertained by the children’s play areas.
East Riddlesden lies close to the traffic-free Airedale Greenway which runs along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
There’s an idyllic feel to this 18th-century landscape garden, whose valley setting gives a commanding view of Georgian Bath.
With a lake, a beautiful Palladian bridge and “musical playground” for the kids, this gem is close to the traffic-free Two Tunnels Greenway.
View on the Celtic Trail East. Credit: Sam Howard
The interior of this 17th-century redbrick mansion tells the story of the Morgans, among the most powerful and influential families in Wales.
Puppets, lavish interiors and beautiful artworks tell the history of this architectural wonder.
For nature lovers, there are 90 acres of parkland and three formal gardens to be enjoyed. The estate lies close to the Celtic Trail East on National Route 4.
Built as an imposing stronghold during the 13th century and gradually added to over the centuries, this grand mansion houses a museum of Indian and Far Eastern relics.
Its extensive formal gardens and woodland are a must see, with views across the Severn Valley.
The site is close to the Lon Cambria route (note that Lon Cambria is primarily on road and contains sections with high traffic speeds).
With many of the National Cycle Network’s routes passing a National Trust, there's something for people of all ages. Credit: Julie Howden
It may look like a fortress from medieval legend, but this imposing structure is actually a manor house built in the 1800s.
Inside there are opulent rooms and a fine art collection; outside there are beautiful views of Snowdonia and picnic-perfect grounds and gardens.
The castle is next to Route 5 as it heads towards Bangor.
With commanding views of the beautiful Usk Valley, this densely wooded hill forms the remains of an Iron Age fort, the largest of its kind in the county.
In spring, the ground is carpeted with bluebells, primroses and other flowers.
The site is not far from National Route 42.
Cushendun Village on National Route 92. Credit: Paul Kirkwood
Here’s one for walkers: with great views of the Lagan Valley and a number of scenic trails, including one leading to a Neolithic burial monument, the Giant’s Ring.
This oasis of meadows and woodland has plenty of places to blow away the cobwebs.
It can be reached via the traffic-free Lagan and Lough path.
If this quaint conservation village gives you distinct Cornish vibes, that’s because it was designed in a way to please the local baron’s Penzance-born wife.
Nestled in the Antrim Coast and Glens Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there are also castle ruins and caves to explore nearby. National Route 93 runs through the village.
Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Credit: Sam Forson
The iconic basalt columns of this UNESCO World Heritage Site seem like they come from another age – they were formed almost 60 million years ago.
You can hike along the cliffs above, using an audio guide or with a guided tour, and there’s an extensive visitor centre too, which you get reduced entrance to if coming by bike.
Note that National Route 93, of which the Causeway Coast route is a part, is predominantly on-road, so is only recommended for experienced touring cyclists.
National Trust for Scotland
Climb to the top of this castle keep’s tower – the largest surviving one in Scotland – and you’ll have commanding views over the surrounding nine counties.
Inside, you can take a guided tour to see the artworks and artefacts hidden in the 14th-century stronghold, which lies just off the traffic-free Alloa Hillfoots Loop.
This picturesque village has been a popular shooting location for film and TV, and with good reason: strolling down its cobbled streets may well give you the feeling of having travelled back in time.
The restored Culross Palace is well worth a visit, and National Route 76, which is largely traffic free in the area, passes right by the village.