Published: 26th JUNE 2019

Our top 10 challenging rides

Looking for a challenge? If so then the National Cycle Network’s iconic long-distance rides are ideal. Whether you are looking for dramatic and wild countryside or magnificent coastal views we have a challenge ride for you.

Cyclist in blue jersey following group of other cyclists on gravel path through countryside

1. Devon Coast to Coast

Distance: 99 miles

This coast to coast route combines the beaches and estuaries of North Devon with the lush green valleys of evocative West Country rivers. Starting at Ilfracombe and ending in Plymouth this route is not too daunting, with many flat sections.

2. Sea to Sea (C2C)

Distance: 137 miles

This is the most popular long-distance ride in the UK and takes you all the way from Irish Sea to the North Sea. You can start at either Whitehaven or Workington and then travel to Newcastle or Sunderland.

Person riding road bike with panniers wearing red helmet and jersey on road through hills

3. Way of the Roses

Distance: 171 miles

A spectacular coast to coast cycle route passing through both the red rose county of Lancashire and the white rose county of Yorkshire.

4. Coast and Castles North

Distance: 172 miles

The Coast and Castles North route begins in Edinburgh, crossing the Firth of Forth into the Kingdom of Fife with its beautiful countryside. The route then follows the coast north passing through fishing villages and historic sites, such as Dunnottar Castle, on its way to Aberdeen.

Cyclist on road bike with panniers wearing red jacket and white helmet cycling on road past Hadrian's Wall

5. Hadrian’s Cycleway

Distance: 170 miles

A ride through some of England’s most dramatic and wild countryside, taking in magnificent coastal views and Roman forts. It starts at Glannaventa Roman Bath House, Ravenglass and ends at Arbeia Roman Fort and Museum at South Shields.

6. Lochs and Glens North

Distance: 214 miles

This great route takes you from Inverness to Glasgow, passing through two fantastic National Parks.

Someone sitting on grassy hillside with bike behind them, looking out on Welsh valley with quarry below

7. Celtic Trail

Distance: 357 miles

Running across Wales at its widest point, the Celtic Trail takes in St David’s, Britain’s smallest city, the spectacular Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, dramatic castles in Haverfordwest, Pembroke and Kidwelly, Llanelli Millennium Coastal Park and the wide sweep of Swansea Bay.

8. Belfast to Ballyshannon

Distance: 242 miles

Ireland's first coast to coast route begins in Whiteabbey and goes on towards Ballyshannon and the Atlantic Ocean.

Two road cyclists with panniers, one in red jacket the other in bright green, on gravel track through Welsh mountains

9. Avenue Verte

Distance: 247 miles

Starting at the London Eye and ending at Notre Dame, the 247-mile route takes riders on a challenging but rewarding journey through towns, villages and beautiful countryside on both sides of the Channel.

10. Lôn Las Cymru

Distance: 370 miles

Lôn Las Cymru runs for over 370 miles down the whole length of Wales from Holyhead to Chepstow or Cardiff. It is one of the toughest of all the long-distance routes on the National Cycle Network.

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