On such a small island like Great Britain, you are never far from the sea, and coastal rides can often be the most memorable of journeys. These Tours are some of the best in the South of England and Wales. They have something for everyone: You can roll through sand dunes in the Gower or skirt atop high cliff tops in the Purbecks. You can ride through fabulous forests and forgotten railway paths near Sidmouth or conquer riverside trails and swift descents from the South Downs in Arundel. You can explore wild, remote Exmoor trails leading to Lynton or ride to the highest point on the south coast around the Golden Cap. Or you can choose to go on a spirited sojourn through the ‘Garden of England' from Faversham. One thing they all share, however, are glorious views, great trails and invigorating sea air.
Beginning at a pub and campsite just north of Swanage, this ride takes in some of the best scenery the Purbecks has to offer. Without giving you a chance to warm up, it heads straight up Ballard Down for Handfast Point, which offers wonderful views of Old Harry Rocks and the coast. From there, you’ll visit the picturesque village of Studland before heading for the forest trails of Rempstone Heath. Keep an eye out for the waymarked cycle route signs through the forest — there are so many trails it's easy to get lost!
Up next there's a testing climb up to Brenscombe Hill from Rollington farm. Once you’re at the top, you'll usually be hit by a stiff coastal wind. You can then ride along this rolling trail for a couple of miles before ending the ride with a fast descent down Nine Barrow Down.
This coastal ride has a bit of everything: Starting from the campsite near Llangennith, there are three paths to choose from across Rhossili Down — one across each of the hill's faces and a testing one over the top. Mixing sand dunes, hilly downland, steep gullies and rocky climbs, you’ll have to use the short tarmac stretches to help you recover. As you proceed along the trail, the route sticks close to the coast through Overton and Oxwich before heading inland to tackle the infamous Cefn Bryn.
While climbing Cefn Bryn from the south is probably the shortest and toughest way to get to the top, it that means you’ll have a longer, faster descent to enjoy. The route home goes through Reynoldstown and Llangennith (both have decent pubs) before you return to Rhossili Bay.
We recommend staying in a campsite nearby and watching the sunset over its golden sand. That will be an experience you’ll never forget and will prove the perfect way to end the day.
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This is a wild and testing ride over some of Exmoor's most remote moorland. Navigation can be difficult at times, with the trail almost invisible in places, so you'll need your wits about you as you ride north toward the coast.
At around the halfway mark, there's an enjoyable switchback descent to the dramatic coastline known as the Valley of the Rocks before a road section to the pleasant twin towns of Lynton and Lynmouth. Stop at one of Lynmouth's many pubs or cafes to refuel: You’ve still got the 1,500-foot (450-meter) climb to conquer before you are back home.
Fortunately, the route south over moorland is waymarked as the Two Moors Way (it continues south into Dartmoor), so it's easier to find your way back. This route is a real test of stamina but ultimately very rewarding.
The vast majority of this loop onto the South Downs is off-road, with only very occasional stretches of tarmac along the way. Starting out at what is essentially sea level, you’ll climb up onto the chalky South Downs to meet the waymarked South Downs Way at Tegleaze on Graffham Down. From here, you’ll drop off the ridge some 750 feet (230 meters) up and descend along sweeping double track. Soon after, you’ll meet the road (which is some 300 feet (100 meters) below you), and you’ll have to climb back up to a similar height as your previous climb to the summit of Burton Down. From here, look out for signs for the Monarch's Way, which will take you through Houghton Forest, into the handsome town of Arundel and out onto the banks of the River Arun. The pub at Offham (theblackrabbitarundel.co.uk) is a wonderful reward for a hard day's riding!
This is a short but glorious little loop, which starts from a National Trust car park. From the get-go, you’ll get stuck straight into climbs around Golden Cap and Thorncombe Beacon. For around half of the ride, you’ll be treated to spectacular sea views, while the second part takes windy paths and back roads over North Chideock. Here, you’ll encounter a fairly challenging climb up to Hardown Hill which, at 620 feet (188 meters), is the highest point on the ride. This will be your final sting in the tail before a swift descent to finish the loop.
From Eype, you could extend the Tour east by a little over a mile (around 2 kilometers) to take in the famous sandy beaches of West Bay, just south of Bridport. If you’d rather go in the other direction, you’ll find Charmouth a similar distance west of the most westerly point on the ride, which will give you another chance to dip your wheels in the water.
This is a long, languid and surprisingly lumpy Tour, given that Kent has such a reputation for being flat! It mixes quiet country roads, muddy bridle paths and some great technical forest riding. It's a perfect two-day ride, too, with lots of accommodation or camping options around Wye, the ride’s halfway point. If you are looking for a shorter ride, you could also jump on the train at the station in Wye.
As you leave the hustle and bustle of Faversham behind, the landscape becomes increasingly dotted with Kent's famous oast houses. Any signs of urban development give way to lush green hop farms and orchards, making it easy to see why Kent has long been known as the ‘Garden of England’.