The UK is the ideal size for a cycle holiday...
It's a compact country with a wide variety of different landscapes - flat plains, rolling hills and dramatic mountains.
You'll stumble across quaint villages and their cosy pubs every few miles. Ancient churches, stone-age ruins and abandoned castles abound.
There are remote areas but even these are within easy reach of towns and cities. Running out of food or water is near impossible.
I've lived in the UK for most of my life. I've cycled tens of 1000's of miles here and I've not seen all there is to see. There are many more miles of quiet scenic roads to ride, many more ruins to explore and many, many more pubs to visit.
I invite you to come and find out...
Cycle Routes in the UK
Aside from the modern road system (some laid on top of Roman roads) there is a 150,000 mile network of narrow lanes and byways. Some of these have been in use since prehistoric times. They run from village to village and are seldom used by motorised traffic.
There is also the National Cycle Network (NCN) - cycle routes overseen by charity SusTrans - these range from short paths aimed at commuting cyclists right up to long distance routes suitable for a vacation.
Accommodation for Cyclists in the UK
Places to stay range from basic campsites with no more than a water-faucet to campsites with bar, luxurious shower block and built in BBQ pits. Obviously you'll need to be carrying your own tent.
A network of budget hostels is mostly concentrated in tourist areas. There are some in larger cities but most are in the remotest, most picturesque areas of the country. These are especially geared to outdoor enthusiasts.
Most villages have a hotel or pub offering overnight accommodation.
Some private homes also offer bed and breakfast - look out for a B&B sign by the gate. These private hosts are usually particularly welcoming. I've had them offer to wash my cycle gear for free on more than one occassion. They are usually more than happy to find a place to secure your bikes.
In some major cities Universities rent out empty student accommodation in the summer months.
Four Countries - One Nation...
The UK is comprised of 4 countries
- Northern Ireland
Although each is a separate country, there's no Border Control and the same currency can be used in any of them. So no need to worry about extra visas or changing money.
The South of England
The South of England is a landscape of rolling hills. The city of London is a day-ride from the south coast. Stonehenge is only a couple of days cycling to the west. Scenery ranges from the rugged coastline of Cornwall in the West to flat marshland in the East.
The English MidlandsCredit: bottombracket.co.uk
The UK Midlands were the workshop of the world at one time.
In the West Midlands that industrial heritage is still there to see in the many industrial museums. The East Midlands sit on the flat plain that extends across northern Europe. In fact, some of Norfolk lies below sea-level just like Holland - quiet roads run alongside inland waterways.
The North of England
The rugged countryside in the north of England is split in two by the Pennne mountain range - the spine of country.
Red-brick industrial towns nestle in steep-sided valleys below high open moors. The most remote areas of England are near the border with Scotland. The Lake District is picture-postcard perfect and a magnet for UK cyclists. Northumberland in the north-east is a dramatic landscape peppered with many ruined castles and fortifications illustrating a troubled past of Viking invasions and border disputes.
Scotland is mostly hilly! Gentle hills and valley characterise the Border region in the south of Scotland. The capital city of Edinburgh hosts it's world famous arts festival every August.
In the Highlands to the north, there are high craggy mountains and steep valleys sculpted by the glaciation of the ice-age.
Some of the steepest mountain passes are here - cycling ambitions waiting to ticked off by UK cyclists.
Wales is a scenic little country with it's own language - 99% of the population speak English and only use the mother tongue to confuse tourists. South Wales is an area still struggling with the loss of traditional industries. The dramatic mountains of North Wales are a traditional venue for cyclists on vacation from the major UK cities.
Guided or Self-Led Cycle Holiday ?
There are many businesses and organizations offering cycle holidayss in the UK. It's also possible to guide yourself with the aid of a map and guidebook.
You could do a combination of both - join an organized tour for a week or two, get used to cycling in the UK then then head off unsupported for a further time. Have Fun!