To celebrate the National Cycle Network’s 25th birthday we’ve chosen our top 25 things to see and experience on the Network. How many can you tick off your list?
Cycling along Bath's Two Tunnels route
1. The Combe Down Tunnel
Bath Two Tunnels Circuit, South West England
Stretching out for 1,672 metres – that’s just over a mile – the Combe Down Tunnel is the UK’s longest cycling and walking tunnel. As you travel through it the experience is made even more special by the audio-visual installation by United Visual Artists. A memorable moment for young and old.
2. The ‘Flintstone Flyer’
National Route 7, Scotland
Standing at three metres tall and five metres long, the Flintstone Flyer (previously known as the Bedrock Bike) is a memorable landmark on National Route 7. Made with two millstones found near its original location in Caldercruix, it has had a couple of makeovers since its creation in 1993. It now stands on the traffic-free path between Johnstone and Lochwinnoch.
3. Tan Hill Inn
National Route 70, North Yorkshire
The highest pub in Britain at 1,732 feet above sea level. Set on the lonely heights of the Yorkshire Dales, the Tan Hill Inn is a unique and historic building dating back to the 17th century – complete with three roaring fires to warm the feet.
4. Gem Bridge
Drake’s Trail, Devon
Reaching across the Walkham Valley in Dartmoor National Park, the impressive 200-metre long Gem Bridge is the longest purpose-built cycle bridge in the UK. It is also just one of the many impressive structures on the route between Tavistock and Plymouth.
5. The Gospel Pass
National Route 42, South East Wales
In the Black Mountains of the Brecon Beacons lies the Gospel Pass, the highest road in Wales and part of National Route 42. This exposed country lane has spectacular views over the Wye Valley – and makes for a memorable descent towards Glasbury.
6. Tower Bridge to Greenwich
National Route 4, London
In the heart of London you’ll find National Route 4. For iconic capital attractions it doesn’t get much than this route - starting at Tower Bridge and heading to Greenwich Park where you can park your cycle and explore the historic Cutty Sark ship.
7. The Derry Walls
National Route 92, Londonderry/Derry
Derry is one of the finest examples of a walled city in Europe. Of all the city walls in Ireland, only Derry’s 17th-century walls completely encircle the city. They're just off National Route 92 and make our 25th bucket list.
8. Neptune’s Staircase
National Route 78, Scotland
The longest staircase lock in Scotland, raising the Caledonian Canal by 19 metres over a quarter-of-a-mile stretch. An impressive feat of engineering running alongside a beautiful highland route.
Bristol and Bath Path
9. Bristol and Bath Railway Path
National Route 4, South West England
Flat, traffic-free and linking two great West Country cities. The Bristol and Bath Railway Path is where it all began back in 1979. It was Sustrans’ (then known as CycleBag) first infrastructure project and inspired the development of the National Cycle Network.
10. Brimham rocks
National Route 688, Yorkshire
We’re adding some pre-history to this bucket list with the weird and wonderful Brimham rocks. The giant rock formation is a natural spectacle on the National Cycle Network, and one not be missed as you travel over North Yorkshire’s heather moorland.
11. Larpool Viaduct
Scarborough to Whitby, Yorkshire
High above the River Esk is the 915-foot-long Larpool Viaduct. Look out for the steam trains on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway running under it, as you travel over it on the Cinder Track.
12. Caernarfon Castle
National Route 8, North Wales
Get your history hit by circling Wales’ most famous castle and UNESCO World Heritage Site on National Route 8. The imposing fortress-palace of Caernarfon Castle is over 700 years old with impressive views from towers over the Menai Strait.
13. Colinton Tunnel
National Route 75, near Edinburgh
Watch artist Chris Rutterford bring a Robert Louis Stevenson poem to life through the 32-metre-long Colinton Tunnel. Partly funded by our ArtRoots Fund, the artwork will become Scotland’s largest historical mural upon completion – due in 2021.
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14. Ogwen Valley
Lon Las Ogwen, North Wales
This is top of our list for breath-taking mountain views. Admire the Snowdonia scenery while travelling through the valley and onto the spoils of the Penrhyn Quarry – Britain’s largest slate quarry which forms a vast and impressive amphitheatre.
The Camel Trail
15. The Camel Estuary
The Camel Trail, Cornwall
One of the most popular recreational routes in the country, the Camel Trail is ideal for families and is used by walkers, joggers, cyclists and horse-riders. Lying in the Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it is a paradise for bird watchers, with reed-beds and salt marsh flats. The elusive otter is also known to visit the estuary.
16. Pembrey Forest
The Millennium Coastal Path, South Wales
One of Britain’s rare sand dune forests and home to a rare and rich variety of botanical wildlife and migrant songbirds. Pembrey Forest is right on the spectacular Millennium Coastal Path with its far-reaching seaside views and woodland trail.
17. Magna Carta
National Route 24, Wiltshire
See one of only four remaining copies of the 13th-century charter of rights – one of the most important historical documents in the world – at Salisbury Cathedral.
Solar System Way
19. The Kelpies
National Route 76, Falkirk
The 100-foot-tall horse head structures of the Kelpies is the largest equine sculpture in the world. It’s hard to miss as you travel past on National Route 76.
20. The DNA Path
National Route 11, Cambridgeshire
Built to celebrate the National Cycle Network as well as the work of the nearby Sanger Institute, this route features DNA helix and colourful gene artworks.
21. The Snettisham Spectacular
Cycle to the Wash, West Norfolk
Travel through the attractive village of Castle Rising and the Royal Estate of Sandringham on National Route 1 and you’ll reach RSPB Snettisham. Time your visit with an incoming high tide and you may witness the whirling wader spectacle – when thousands of birds take off and swarm together.
Angel of the North
22. The Angel of the North
National Route 725, Tyne & Wear
Visit Anthony Gormley’s iconic statue just outside Gateshead. The imposing and recognisable sculpture is popular with coast to coast tourers wanting a selfie in front of the region’s most famous artwork.
23. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
National Route 85, North Wales
A classic structure from the engineer and architect Thomas Telford, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the longest aqueduct in the UK, with nineteen elegant arches. Sitting high above the River Dee Valley, it is also the highest canal aqueduct with a simply unforgettable view from its giddying heights.
24. Comber Greenway
National Route 99, Belfast
Take the Titanic tour. Travel the seven miles of the tranquil traffic-free path from the heart of Belfast, the birthplace of the Titanic, to the town of Comber, famous for being the home of Thomas Andrews, the designer of the RMS Titanic.
National Route 6, Cumbria
Combine land and water adventures at England's largest lake. Cross the picturesque waters on Windermere's cable ferry and follow National Route 6 along the western shore.