Family bike rides: cycle routes for families in the UK

Child cycling along tree lined path

Table of Contents

Family bike ride ideas across the UK

Cycling in our towns and cities with children can be a terrifying experience so it feels wonderful when you can let them pedal in freedom along safe traffic-free routes. However, tracking down these magical places can be a tricky business so I’ve put together some of the best family cycle routes near me along with some of the family bike rides we’ve enjoyed on holiday. I’ve also included some kids’ bike ride suggestions from fellow travel bloggers along with family biking trails which I’d like to try in the future.

I live in Hertfordshire, a short drive or train ride from London. Many of the family friendly cycle routes near me are perfect for those looking for easy family bike rides near London.

Children on bikes in woods at Mardley Heath
Hertfordshire muddy bike ride

I’ve found that one of the great things about kids cycling – particularly when they’re little – is that generally you can travel a lot further as a family if the little people are on two wheels. One of the members of our family is a very reluctant walker but if he’s on his bike he’ll happily travel for miles. So if there’s a destination you’re keen to visit, try taking a bike along to ease the pain. The reason one of my sons learnt to ride a bike at the age of three is thanks to early use of a balance bike – my back couldn’t handle carrying a tired toddler so I put him on a little balance bike and the rest is history.

This article is very much a work in progress – I’ll be adding more kids bike ride ideas to it over the coming months so do pop back to see what’s new. And if you have a favourite family bike ride near you which you’d like to share, please do get in touch.

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Bike rides in Hampshire for families

We have taken a couple of holidays in Hampshire with our bikes in the last year. The obvious off road cycle routes in Hampshire for families are in the New Forest but there are plenty of other great bike rides in Hampshire which kids will love.

Meon Valley Trail, West Meon to Wickham

  • 11 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Flat

This is a really beautiful family bike ride. We cycled it in both directions during an October half term visit to Hampshire. The path – a disused railway line – runs through woodland so it’s stunning in autumn. There are bridges to whizz under and over and glorious views of the South Downs. Just off the track are numerous villages where you can stop for lunch or a coffee.

Cycle route through woodland in Hampshire
Meon Valley Trail

We started the bike ride in West Meon where parking is free and cycled south to Wickham for lunch (the Square Cow pub was very welcoming despite our muddy attire). We then cycled back to West Meon with a little pitstop at the White Lion pub in Soberton. We also ate at the Bakers Arms on another occasion which is close to the cycle route.

Car parking is also free at Wickham – right next to the start of the trail. If you only want to cycle a short section, I’d recommend cycling from either end to Soberton or Droxford which are both roughly half way along the route and both have pubs.

As the route was flat, our kids were happy to cycle the whole way there and back despite being caught in some rather heavy downpours. There were some pretty good puddles too. I reckon this is one of the best Hampshire cycle routes for families.

Find out more about the Meon Valley Trail

Hayling Billy Coastal Path and Southsea

  • 5-10 miles (and more with the extension to Southsea) each way
  • Linear
  • Flat

If you fancy a bit of variety from your cycling in Hampshire and you have a whole day at your disposal, this is a great bike route for families.

We cycled the five mile section of the route purely on Hayling Island but the trasil actually starts in Havant at the train station with a cycle path taking visitors over the bridge onto the island. The route runs close to the sea and you get glimpses through the trees of Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower across the water.

view of sea from Hayling Billy family cycle route
View from the Hayling Billy path

At the end of the trail you can cycle along fairly quiet roads (we did this in autumn so I expect the roads will be busier in high season) to the seafront where there are various places to buy a well earned ice cream, or you can extend the route by taking the little ferry over to Southsea.

Southsea has a bike lane along the seafront next to the main road so it’s not idea for very young children – although there is a raised concrete section between the cycle lane and the road. It was bitterly cold when we cycled through Southsea in October but I’d imagine it would be lovely in the summer. There are plenty of cafes to stop at and you have the lure of the pier.

Car parking is free if you park on Hayling Island at either of the two Hayling Billy car parks – they are quite small so I would imagine they get full up quickly on sunny days.

I haven’t come across any bike hire places in Hayling Island. There is a bike rental shop in Southsea – Bike U Like – which is a couple of blocks back from the seafront.

Find out more about the Hayling Billy Trail

New Forest cycle routes for families

We had a brilliant family holiday in the New Forest during February half term 2022. We spent much of our time exploring by bike – the routes are mostly flat and are well maintained and there are trails suitable for children of all ages.

Our kids loved the safety of whizzing along the wide car-free gravel tracks, passing New Forest ponies, rivers, open heathland and of course beautiful forest scenery.

There is a detailed guide to cycling in the national park on the main New Forest website so I’ll just mention a few examples here to give you an idea of the range of cycle routes in the New Forest – it’s not just about the trees!

The Old Railway cycle track from Brockenhurst to Burley

  • 9 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Flat
  • Bike hire

The Old Railway route takes cyclists between the villages of Brockenhurst and Burley. The full route described on the New Forest tourism website starts and ends in the villages themselves which involves cycling on roads which might be quite busy during school holidays so I would recommend parking at the Burbush car park in Burley where the old railway track starts. If you’d prefer a shorter cycle, you could also begin at the Old Station Tea Rooms which is about two miles further along and has both a car park and bike rack.

Family bike ride in the New Forest
New Forest cycling

The path is wide and straight so it’s perfect for parents who want to be able to see their speedy kids whizzing off into the distance. There are wide open spaces for much of the way with views over the heathland.

As well as the tea rooms, there are plenty of great places in both villages for refreshments at the beginning or end of the cycle – perfect if you want to have lunch and then cycle back to your start point. We enjoyed lunch at the Snake Catcher in Brockenhurst which has a good garden with a play area and on another day we celebrated my birthday at the Cider Pantry – just go easy on the booze if you have a long ride home!

There are cycle hire shops in both Burley and Brockenhurst.

Find out more about the Old Railway route

Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard cycle route

  • 2 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Flat
  • Bike hire

This is a great New Forest cycle route for little children as it’s short and takes in two highlights of the region – the National Motor Museum (or perhaps for the kids it’s the Little Beaulieu play area) and Bucklers Hard, a former ship-building village.

Little Beaulieu play area in the New Forest for kids
Little Beaulieu play area

There is a cycle hire shop in Beaulieu village. From there you can cycle to the nearby motor museum or along the path down to Bucklers Hard. The route takes you through woodland and across fields to the River Beaulieu passing the yacht harbour and boat yard so there’s plenty of variety despite the short distance.

Find out more about Beaulieu to Bucklers Hard cycle trail

Rhinefield Ornamental Woodland cycle route

  • 10-15 miles
  • Circular
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

This is a great cycle route for families with older children as about 35% of it is on minor roads – we walked our bikes out of the centre of Brockenhurst, where the route starts and finishes. We cycled a section of this bike ride with our kids and walked some of it too on a separate occasion. The highlight is the fabulous tall trees – some of the redwoods reach 50 metres – there’s also a brilliant walking trail taking in the giants of the New Forest which little kids will enjoy cycling along.

Walks in the New Forest with kids
Tall Trees Trail in the New Forest

Some of this route is on minor roads which were quiet when we visited in February half term but are no doubt busy in the summer months. However, there are so many tracks leading off into the forest away from the roads that you can use Rhinefield Road as a base for shorter, traffic-free routes. There is a free car park and toilets at Blackwater car park where the Tall Trees Trail starts.

If you cycle the whole of this route you’ll be rewarded with the full variety of landscapes which make up the New Forest – the oak woodlands, the evergreen forest, heathlands and waterways.

Find out more about Rhinefield Ornamental Woodland

Family bike rides on the Isle of Wight

If you’re visiting the Isle of Wight with older children, you might want to consider the 65 mile round the island route which involves incredible coastal scenery and more than a few hills. However, if you’re not quite there yet, fear not – the Isle of Wight has a really great range of cycle trails for families of all ages.

chalk path along cliff top isle of wight
Isle of Wight

The Red Squirrel Trail

  • 32 miles which can be broken down into sections.
  • Circular
  • Mostly flat and mostly traffic free
  • Bike hire

The family cycle routes on the Isle of Wight which I’ve detailed below are all part of the brilliant Red Squirrel Trail. The route runs from Cowes to Sandown and Shanklin and loops back up via Godshill. If you fancy a cycling adventure with your kids, you could do this 32 mile route over a few days, staying at a couple of places en route – a warm up to the full round the island route!

The Red Squirrel Trail can be broken down into short day trip sections suitable for little children so I’ve detailed some of these to give you a flavour of what’s on offer.

Sandown to Shanklin bike ride

  • 6 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Flat
  • Bike hire

This is definitely on my list of things to do on the Isle of Wight when we visit later this year. This cycle route hugs the coast between Sandown and Shanklin, taking cyclists along the esplanade and avoiding the hilly roads.

If it’s done on a sunny day I’d imagine it will take many hours – such is the allure of sandcastles and ice creams.

There’s bike hire available at both Sandown and Shanklin.

Sandown to Cowes cycle track

Recommended by Zoe Louise Elliot from Together in Transit

  • 14.6 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

For a safe cycle route in the UK for families, find yourself exploring the Isle of Wight! With over 100 cycling routes with different terrains, there’s a route for everyone. 

deckchairs on beach isle of wight
Sandown beach on the Isle of Wight

To highlight a specific route, check out the mostly traffic-free Cowes to Sandown cycle track. This is an easy, mostly flat and paved cycle route that is perfect for those with children. It is a linear route that is in total 14.6 miles / 23.5 kilometres. There is parking at each end of the route, or you can do half of the route with Newport being the middle point to start and cycle back to. If you cycle the whole route, there is a section through Newport where you will need to cycle on the road – or walk with your bikes.

The best place to view red squirrels is at Alverstone. The cycle track is mostly surrounded by nature, passing by the River Medina, forests and fields. It’s gorgeous in the springtime with all the butterflies along the way too! 

It’s best to bring your own bikes, but there are some bike rental locations in Newport in the middle of the island if you want to rent one for your visit.

The best place to stop at along the way for refreshments is the Pedallers Café. Here you can enjoy a hot or cold drink as well as a choice of baked goods, sandwiches and hot meals. I highly recommend the filled jacket potatoes here! 

Family cycle routes in Dorset

Moors Valley Country Park, near Ringwood

  • Trails of 2 to 4 miles
  • Circular and linear
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

Just to the west of the New Forest, Moors Valley Country Park is a brilliant Forestry England managed woodland with a particularly brilliant selection of wooden play spaces. There are a variety of easy bike trails for families to follow through the woods.

Child on bike in woodland
Moors Valley Country Park

This is a really good destination for young cyclists as the routes do not take you too far from the visitor centre and there’s always the lure of play areas and ice creams to draw weary little ones back to base.

If you’re visiting with more experienced cyclists in your family, fear not – there’s a fun pump track and a challenging bike park with jumps and other obstacles to terrify parents.

Find out more about Moors Valley Country Park

The Rodwell Trail, Weymouth to Portland

  • 2 miles (with option to extend to 4 miles) each way
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat

The Rodwell Trail follows an old railway line which was used to transport Portland stone to Weymouth. Now the route is a popular family-friendly cycling and walking route with plenty to keep children entertained along the way – including wonderful sea views.

Much of the trail is an important wildlife corridor for butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Highlights on the route include old station platforms and Henry VIII’s Sandsfoot Castle. There’s a cycle path over the bridge to Portland which leads to Chesil Beach.

There are plenty of places for toilet stops and refreshments along the route and there’s a café at the end.

Although there is no bike hire adjacent to the trail, you can hire bikes in Weymouth at Weymouth Bike Hire which has plotted a route to the start of the trail which avoids any major roads.

Find out more about the Rodwell Trail

Cornwall cycle routes for families

There are some fantastic cycle trails in Cornwall – check out the Mining Trails leaflet for full details of the cycle routes in Cornwall which take in the historic landscape around the North Cornish towns of Redruth and Camborne. I haven’t included any of these routes in this article as I think they all take in some road cycling and I’m not sure how safe this would be during the summer (I’ll have to give them a try and update this article at a future date!)

At the top of my list of cycle paths in Cornwall to try is the coast to coast route which is an 11 mile trail from Devoran in the south to Portreath in the north, known as the Bissoe Trail. It’s mostly off road but again there is a little bit of quiet country road cycling to contend with.

One of the most well known family bike rides in Cornwall is the Camel Trail which can be cycled in sections making it perfect for kids of all ages to tackle.

Boats in harbour at Padstow
Padstow Harbour

The Camel Trail, Padstow to Wadebridge

  • 18 miles (but with shorter sections within it) each way
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

The Camel Trail is on my list of family bike routes in Cornwall I’m really keen to do – it takes in stunning scenery as it winds its way next to the Camel River between Padstow and Wadebridge. Although the full route – 18 miles – might be a bit much for children, particularly as you need to factor in getting back to your starting point, the trail can be split into sections as follows:

  • Padstow to Wadebridge 5.5 miles
  • Wadebridge to Bodmin 5.75 miles
  • Bodmin to Wenfordbridge 6.25 miles

The Camel Trail follows the route of a disused railway line and there are lots of highlights along the way. I know my sons would enjoy a visit to Bodmin jail, I meanwhile quite fancy some wine tasting at the Camel Valley vineyard.

If you end your trip in Padstow – or you stop there for lunch and then cycle back, you’ll have a choice of famous eateries to try out, or you can picnic at various points along the way. Just bear in mind that this is a very popular cycle trail and it can get very busy with both walkers and cyclists.

There are bike hire shops at Padstow, Wadebridge, Bodmin and Wendfordbridge as well as parking at each point. Toilet facilities can be found at Wendfordbridge, Wadebridge and Padstow.

Find out more about the Camel Trail

The Clay Trails near St Austell

This collection of walking and cycling trails near St Austell takes in the china clay mining area of mid Cornwall. The trails are all fairly short – between three and five miles. I’ve detailed just one here as an example but there is a great deal of information on the Clay Trails website.

bike ride on clay trail st austell
St Austell Clay Trail

The Pentewan Trail

Recommended by Sarah Carter from Cornwall’s Best

  • 3.5 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Flat

The Pentewan Trail is a 5.5 kilometre traffic-free cycle path that runs from St Austell to Pentewan in Cornwall.  It’s one of Cornwall’s best traffic free short bike routes. 

This linear route follows National Cycle Route 3 along both the St Austell River and an old railway line.  There’s also an element of woodland in King’s Wood. The path is shared as a walking trail. 

The best place to start is in Pentewan, at Pentewan Valley cycle hire, where bikes are available for rent and where car parking and toilets are available too. There is a small amount of free parking available in Pentewan and then rates apply hourly when that’s full. 

The trail is easy, flat, and traffic-free, although you may find some mud after a period of rain.  There are plenty of cafes on arrival in St Austell for refreshments, or Into the Woods in Pentewan is a great spot for food and drink after your ride – with a great playground and garden. A detour – also traffic tree, although through the woods and a little steep in places – will take you to the Lost Gardens Of Heligan (it adds 3.4 kilometres each way to the route) for an excellent addition to your day out.

Family cycling in the Scilly Isles

If you fancy introducing your children to road cycling in a relatively safe destination I can highly recommend the Isle of Scilly.

This little paradise of five inhabited isles and countless uninhabited ones lies off the coast of Cornwall. Visitors cannot bring cars to the island so the only vehicles are those that belong to locals along with a few golf buggies which tourists hire.

golf buggy and bike on a road on the island of St mary Scilly Isles
Modes of transport on the Scillies

We visited the Scilly Isles when our kids were aged four and six and it felt perfectly safe cycling on the roads with them.

The main island of St Mary’s is the best base if you’re keen to spend quite a bit of time on bikes. There’s an excellent bike hire shop – St Mary’s bike hire – where you can hire a range of cycles including tag alongs and trailers. Like anything in the Scillies, ensure you book your bikes in advance.

Most of the holiday accommodation on St Mary’s is in the capital Hugh Town. There’s a decent beach – Porthcressa – in the capital but there are some really lovely sandy spots dotted across the island so it’s a lovely day out to pop a picnic lunch in your bicycle basket and head off across the island to find a secluded beach. Even in the height of summer – when we visited – you’ll more often than not find an empty beach.

View of the sea on St Marys Isles of Scilly
St Marys, Isles of Scilly

St Mary’s is tiny – walking around the whole island takes between five and seven hours so cycling is a breeze. There are hills on St Mary’s – our kids had to push their bikes on a few occasions – but the distances are small so nothing is too arduous. And there enticing cafes dotted across the island so you’re never far from a cream tea or an ice cream.

You don’t need to lock up your bike when you reach the beach – theft is almost unheard of in the Scillies.

One of the loveliest beaches on St Mary’s is Pelistry. It’s around two miles from Hugh Town and close by is the excellent Carn Vean Tea Room – it’s best to leave your bikes at the tea room as the path down to the beach is steep and rocky.

Find out more about planning a trip to the Isles of Scilly.

Devon cycle routes for families

There is a decent concentration of off-road cycling in Devon so it’s perfect for a family cycling holiday. There are several cycle routes in Devon along disused railway lines – the best type of trail for kids to build their confidence.

Haldon Forest, near Exeter

  • 1.5 – 6 miles
  • Various circular trails
  • Short flat trails and challenging mountain bike tracks
  • Bike hire

This Forestry England woodland near Exeter is great for little legs but it’s perfect for big cyclists too. As well as some short beginner trails on mostly flat ground, there are also some technical rides and a pump trail. I know my family would love it here.

As this is the Forestry Commission, you’ll also find a café, car parking (charge applies) and a play area plus miles of walking trails.

Find out more about cycling at Haldon Forest

The Tarka Trail in North Devon

  • 30 miles one way (but with shorter sections within it)
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

Probably the most well known of the cycle paths in Devon, this wonderful route offers the longest traffic-free cycle trail in the UK. The full 180 mile route forms a figure of eight with a 30 mile section in the southern loop offering the best off-road bike trail for families.

River running through forest
Scenery along the Tarka Trail

The trail is named after Tarka the Otter – a story I loved as a child. The trail, much of it on former railway lines, starts in Braunton which not only boasts a pump track (in case your kids are obsessed with these like mine are) and also a small surfing museum. From Braunton the trail follows the River Taw inland to Barnstaple before swinging back out towards the coast to Instow where the Taw and Torridge rivers meet. The route then follows the River Torridge past Bideford towards Torrington, finally ending at Meeth.

If you don’t fancy the full 30 miles, the route has been divided into six handy sections:

  • Braunton to Barnstaple 6 miles
  • Barnstaple to Fremington 2 miles
  • Fremington to Instow 4 miles
  • Instow to Bideford 3 miles
  • Bideford to Torrington 5 miles
  • Torrington to Meeth 11 miles

There are plenty of places to stop for refreshments as well as wonderful scenery and interesting highlights along the way – kids will enjoy crossing the swing bridge over the river Yeo at Barnstaple and I know my sons would like having lunch at the Puffing Billy pub – set in what was once Torrington train station.

Find out more about the Tarka Trail cycle path

Tamar Trails near Tavistock

Recommended by Claire from Devon with Kids

  • Various lengths from 1.5 miles
  • Linear and circular
  • Varied terrain including a short flat route for beginners
  • Bike hire

The Tamar Trails has 25 kilometres of cycle paths set across an old copper mining site in West Devon. There are flat routes which are perfect for letting toddlers push themselves along on balance bikes and more challenging, hilly trails for the whole family.

Family bike ride in woodland
The Tin Box Family cycling Tamar Trails

The best place to start is at the Tamar Trails Centre where there’s a cafe, toilets and cycle hire shop. From here you can take the flat Mineral Railway Trail which is a three kilometre linear route. This is the easiest option for young children and beginners.

If you have enough puff for a longer ride you can then join the circular Wheal Maria Trail. This really shows off this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, taking you around the pits that were part of the old mines. 

There are some trickier sections on this trail. You may need to hop off your bikes to help younger children on the steeper sections.

The trail centre has maps if you want to experience other routes. Parking at Tamar Trails costs £2.40 all day. You can get a discounted annual permit if you plan to visit regularly.

Find out more about cycling at Tamar Trails

Family bike rides in Surrey

Windsor Great Park and Virginia Water cycling trails

  • Under fives are permitted to tackle the 4.5 mile Virginia Water circuit
  • Various linear trails
  • Best for young families

Windsor Great Park is ideal for families with young children – it’s no longer possible to cycle all the way round Virginia Water unless you’re under five. It’s become rather a popular destination in recent years and the path on the south side of the lake cannot handle the visitor numbers. There are plenty of lovely cycle trails in and around Windsor Great Park for all ages – some of which make up part of the National Cycle Route Network 4.

A good option is to park at the Savill Garden where cycle trails run north towards the Long Walk (you can’t actually cycle along this driveway) and south to Virginia Water. An impressive looking new play area is planned for summer 2022 at Savill Garden so this will be an added draw for little ones.

Find out more about cycle routes through Windsor Great Park.

Alice Holt cycle trails, near Farnham

  • 3 miles
  • One circular route and one linear
  • Some steep hills
  • Bike hire (from 9th April 2022)

Alice Holt is one of those places I’ve visited as a child and as a parent – it’s an excellent Forestry Commission woodland with walking and cycling trails, adventure play spaces, a café and Go Ape. Bike hire was paused for a while but should be resuming in April (please check their social media to make sure).

wooden play area in woodland at Alice Holt
Wooden play area at Alice Holt

The family cycle trail (this link is to the route map) at Alice Holt is a circular three mile route through woodland and meadowland (come in late spring for picnics overlooking the wildflowers). There is a long steep downhill section at the start of the route which may be unsuitable to very young children.

Families with older kids might like to tackle some of the Shipwrights Way – a long distance cycle route which runs from Alice Holt all the way to Portsmouth. It was used in medieval times to transport timber from the forest to dockyards on the south coast. The section through Alice Holt is linear and three miles one way. It does involve crossing two minor roads, and a ford across a river which I think my kids would love to tackle on our next visit.

Family cycle routes in Berkshire

Swinley Forest, Bracknell

  • one to 8.6 miles
  • Various circular trails
  • flat routes and more challenging trails on offer
  • Bike hire

This broad tract of woodland – part of the Crown Estate – is managed by Forestry England. It’s a great destination for families with mixed ability cycling. The green trail is a beginners’ route of around one kilometre. The blue trail offers more of a challenge at nine kilometres with steeper sections, a narrower path and some uneven ground. If you’re looking for mountain biking routes, the red trail offers 14 kilometres of varied terrain.

Aside from the cycle trails in Swinley Forest, there’s also a café, a playground, bike hire and a Go Ape area in the treetops.

Find out more about Swinley Forest cycling and bike hire

Family bike rides in Kent

The Viking Coastal Trail, Margate to Reculver

Recommended by Eniko Krix from Travel Hacker Girl

  • 32 miles total with a 9 mile section which is mostly traffic free, each way
  • Linear route
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire in Margate

Cycling the Viking Coastal Trail is a great way to explore the Isle of Thanet. The 32 miles (51.4 kilometres) circular route goes through beautiful scenery. The route can be done in a day, but it is best to divide it into smaller sections with little ones.

Bike ride along white cliffs
Viking Coastal Trail

If you are planning to do this trip as a multi-day cycling adventure, then you will find many types of accommodation along the way. The trail is suitable for families if the children are quite confident cyclists, as some of the route is on roads with light traffic.

However, if you are worried about safety then you can just focus on the 9-mile mostly traffic-free stretch that follows the sea wall from Margate to Reculver. This section is safe and easy. You will find lots of possibilities to stop for refreshments, which is also a good motivation to keep little riders going. There are public toilets, playgrounds and Blue Flag beaches along the way as well. St. Mildred’s Bay beach was a highlight for us.

There are many parking options depending on where you want to start your journey. You can rent bikes at Margate if you don’t have your own. A good place to finish your bike ride is Reculver, which has a great pub – the King Ethelbert Inn with a play park and parking. 

Find out more about the Viking Trail

Cycle routes in Hertfordshire for families

This is my home turf so I spend quite a bit of time cycling in Hertfordshire with my family. There are lots of quiet country roads which are great for family bike rides near me and there are several brilliant traffic free cycle routes in Hertfordshire which are ideal for children.

I’ve written lots of articles about places to walk in Hertfordshire – many of which are great for cycling too. Take a look at my Hertfordshire family walks page for further ideas. Mardley Heath near Knebworth is one of my bike-obsessed sons’ favourite places for a family cycle ride.

Lee Valley Regional Park, Cheshunt

  • Various routes ranging from 2 to 15.5 miles
  • Circular
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire at Broxbourne

As well as being the home of the London Olympics Velopark (minimum height 1.45 metres), there’s also the Olympic Mountain Bike Track to test your skills on as well as plenty of easy and flat cycle routes for children.

London Velodrome
London Velodrome

We took our boys to the mountain bike track a couple of years ago and they had a brilliant afternoon zipping along the trails – it was March and the tracks were almost deserted.

If you’re looking for safe, traffic-free cycle routes near London for kids, the Lee Valley Regional Park is perfect. There are various trails to choose from ranging from an easy three kilometre loop to more demanding routes of 25 kilometres.

kids bike ride
Tackling the trails at the Olympic Park in London

During our visit to the Lee Valley, we cycled the 5.5 mile Artway Route 1 which takes in a range of sculptures along the way – children can stop and clamber on the artwork so it’s a really fun route for little ones. The route takes in the Lee Valley White Water Centre where there’s a café and toilets. This area is brilliant for a pitstop with plenty of areas to picnic on and watch the paddlers. We visited on a really cold drizzly day but the kids still had a great time.

The Lee Valley website has full details of routes including where to find each sculpture as well as information on car parking and refreshments.

If you want to reach the Lee Valley cycle trails by public transport, the train station at Cheshunt (30 minutes from Liverpool Street) has direct access onto the routes or you can take a train to Broxbourne (25 minutes from Liverpool Street) where bike hire is available.

Wooden sculptures Lee Valley art trail in Hertfordshire
Lee Valley cycle trail artwork

There are several car parks at Lee Valley – for the art trail we used the parking at Fishers Green. There’s also a YHA at the park, close to Cheshunt train station.

Find out more about cycle routes in the Lee Valley here

The Cole Green Way, Welwyn Garden City to Hertford

  • 4 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat

This disused railway line runs from Welwyn Garden City to Hertford and can be extended by linking up with the Hertford to Ware towpath along the River Lee.

family bike ride on the Cole Green Way
Cole Green Way

The path begins at the junction of Black Fan Road and Cole Green Lane and comes out at West Street in Hertford near the football club. From there it’s a fairly safe cycle (or you can walk your bikes) over to Hartham Common where you can pick up the Hertford to Ware towpath should you wish to cycle further (see details of this section below).

If you’d prefer to just cycle a small section of the route, there is parking and a picnic area at the spot where Cole Green station used to stand – all that’s left now is the platform. There’s also a pub – the Cowper Arms – which you can access here. In Welwyn, Holwell Hyde is a good place to park – the road runs parallel to Black Fan Road so it’s close to the start. In Hertford, there is plenty of parking at Hartham Common (where you’ll also find toilets, play area and a café).

The Cole Green Way is one of the most popular family bike trails near me – you’ll find lots of cyclists and walkers enjoying this route, particularly in the summer.

Find out more about the Cole Green Way

Hertford to Ware towpath family bike ride

  • 2.5 miles each way (or 5 miles if you do the loop back)
  • linear
  • flat

This flat gravel track runs alongside the Lee River passing a couple of locks and lots of house boats. This was a bike route we used when our children were small and we were unsure how far they’d want to cycle for – there’s a handy train ride from Ware back to Hertford East if your kids run out of steam (with the added excitement of a level crossing!). This is definitely one of the best easy family bike rides near me.

The trail begins in Hartham Common near Hertford Lock and runs through Kings Meads nature reserve, under the A10 flyover and on to Ware, coming out near the Priory where there’s a play area for children. You can extend the route by coming back a slightly different way which I haven’t tried yet but full details are available on the link below.

There are pay and display car parks at Hartham Common as well as toilets, café and a brilliant new play area.

Find out more about the Hertford to Ware towpath.

Family cycle routes in Cambridgeshire

Grafham Water cycle trails, near Huntingdon

  • 10 miles
  • Circular
  • Flat
  • Bike hire

England’s third largest reservoir is a brilliant destination for family biking. There’s a 10 mile track around the lake with far reaching views across the water. The western section is a nature reserve and there are plenty of places to stop and admire the wildlife. There are two cafes to refuel in – one is at the visitor centre – there’s apparently 24 flavours of ice cream here. Close by is the bike hire shop and a play area (as well as another one near the sailing club).

If you’ve had your fill of cycling, there’s a range of water sports available including kayaking and sailing. And if you fancy a picnic, you’re permitted to bring your own BBQ.

Find out more about cycling at Grafham Water

Family cycle routes in the East Midlands

Rutland Water

  • 8 – 23 miles
  • Circular and linear routes
  • Flat
  • Bike hire

Rutland Water is the home of the semi-submerged Normanton Church. The building had already been deconsecrated and abandoned before the reservoir flooded the surrounding area. It was only due to local petitioning that the church was retained – making it today a much-photographed landmark and popular wedding venue.

alf submerged church by lake
Normanton Church at Rutland Water

If you have the time and energy, the full lap of the lake is 23 miles but there are various shorter routes for families with young children. All the routes are traffic-free making this a great destination for long distance family bike rides.

The main family cycle route is between Normanton and Whitwell – both locations offer bike hire and it’s an easy flat four miles between the two. There are good views of the watery church on route.

As with Grafham Water, there are various play areas and cafes around the lake and also a campsite in case you fancy making a weekend of it.

Find out more about cycling at Rutland Water

Family-friendly cycling in Norfolk

Holkham Estate near Wells-next-the-Sea

  • Various routes of 2.5 to 6 miles
  • Circular
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

The Holkham Estate near Wells-next-the-Sea is a brilliant day out for families. As well as some fun cycling trails through the estate, you can also visit the brilliant Holkham Stories Experience, explore the walled garden or dash about in the rather good adventure playground. We visited Holkham during October half term and it was incredibly quiet so we had the play area to ourselves – we were there for ages! There’s also a very good cafe (and a shop) in case you need to warm up with a hot chocolate.

Family cycle trails at Holkham Estate
Family-friendly cycle trails at Holkham Estate

Read more about our trip to North Norfolk here.

Anyway, back to the cycling… there are six different cycling routes to choose from which run through the estate. Our kids loved zooming along the wide gravel paths past the ground mansion and on to the lakes and farmland. Note, as this is a working estate there is sometimes farm traffic on the paths.

Find out more about cycling at Holkham Estate

Cycling at Blickling Estate in North Norfolk

  • 4 mile route
  • Circular
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

The National Trust Blickling Estate is vast. We cycled there on the same holiday as our trip to Holkham (see above). We enjoyed a really lovely four mile cycle route through the estate taking in lovely autumn colours through the woods as well as passing wide open fields.

cycle route through Blickling Estate in North Norfolk
Exploring Blickling Estate by bike

The cycle trail also passes the rather interesting red brick Blickling Tower which the National Trust lets out to visitors – it would make a brilliant holiday base!

There’s a very good bike hire shop at Blickling – we hired lovely lightweight Frog bikes during our visit. They also rent out trailers and balance bikes so it’s a good destination for families of all ages.

Find out more about cycling for families at Blickling Estate

Family cycle routes in the Peak District

Monsal Trail, Bakewell in the Peak District

Recommended by Jenny Lynn from Peak District Kids

  • 8.3 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

The linear 13.5 kilometre Monsal Trail which runs from Bakewell to Chee Dale near Buxton is one of the most popular options for young kids as the path is slightly wider than others, and there are multiple good play stops along the way (including the playground at Hassop Station Café, fishing for rubber ducks at Thornbridge Gardens, and Millers Dale Café is a perfect ice-cream stop). Plus there are lots of long tunnels (which are lit) to cycle through! And let’s not forget the epic views as you cycle across Monsal Dale along the Headstone Viaduct.

Kids bike ride going into tunnel
Monsal Trail

The Peak District has miles upon miles of old railway tracks that have been transformed into gravel paths by the National Park Authority. These paths are absolutely perfect for cycling with kids as they are all traffic-free and mostly flat, making for a lovely leisurely ride through some of the UK’s most breath-taking scenery. Many of these Peak District cycle routes pass through long tunnels, carved through the hills, which are all lit during daylight hours.

Hassop Station is where we recommend starting your Monsal Trail bike ride. There’s ample parking and if it’s very busy, they often open up an adjacent field for additional parking. There’s also bike hire here and toilet facilities. From Hassop Station head towards Chee Dale. There is a slight incline this way, but it means that when you head back, it’s a lovely easy ride for little legs. 

Find out more about the Monsal Trail

Family bike rides in Cheshire

Delamere Forest, near Northwich

Recommended by Lucinda Mills from Dual Adventures

  • 2 – 6.5 miles
  • Circular trails
  • Some flat, some hilly
  • Bike hire

Delamere Forest is the perfect place for a family bike ride, as there is a range of short cycling routes on offer. This Forestry Commission woodland has has excellent facilities. With a new visitor’s centre and café that opened in 2020, visitors can stop for a warm drink or a bite to eat after their family cycle ride.

Family cycle trail through woodland
Delamere Forest

Bike hire is available at Tracs with a range of equipment for hire. The forest is accessible by train – Delamere station has direct rail services from Manchester. There is a huge carpark, so you can arrive anytime of the day and be sure to get a parking space, the carpark is charged dependant on length of stay and can be paid via cash or contactless before you leave.

The two main cycle routes are the Hunger Hill Trail (3.7 miles) and the Whitemoor Trail (6.5 miles). The Hunger Hill Trail takes you on wide roads through the forest. However, the route does include some short climbs but in turn provides beautiful views of Blakemere Moss wetland. The 16.5 mile Whitemoor Trail, is a longer and flatter route along some of the quieter parts of the forest – note there is a short stretch of road at the end.

Find out more about family bike rides at Delamere Forest

Family cycling in Yorkshire

Yorkshire has some particularly appealing child friendly cycle routes – I have my eye on the wonderful Cinder Track which runs along the coast.

Cycle the Solar System in York

  • 6.4 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat

This family friendly cycle trail follows the old route of the East Coast mainline railway, taking cyclists on a journey through the solar system. Along the route are scale models of the planets and the distances between the planets are to scale too – everything has been carefully measured for accuracy! There are various other highlights along the route – scale models of two space probes and a wire artwork of a fisherman by local artist Pete Rogers.

York Solar System cycle trail for families
York Solar System – the sun, credit Peter Thompson

The trail starts with the sun which you’ll find near the Askham Bar Park and Ride and Pluto is found at Ricall at the end of the cycle route. If you don’t fancy the full 6.4 miles (or the round trip 12.8), there is a car park along the route at Escrick and one at the end in Ricall.

The path is almost entirely off road except for a short section through a quiet residential area. There are pubs in the villages along the route.

Find out more about cycling the York Solar System

The Harland Way, from Wetherby to Spofforth

  • 3 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Flat

This is a great cycle route in Yorkshire for little children. Running between Wetherby to Spofforth (with the option to extend at the start in Thorp Arch with a bit of road cycling or bike pushing in Wetherby). The route follows a disused railway line and it is flat and wide – it can be a bit muddy after rain.

family friendly cycle route
Harland Way, credit Muddy Boots Mummy

Parking is free at Wetherby in the Old Station car park and kids will love the play area in Spofforth at the other end. There are no public toilets at Spofforth but there is a pub for refreshments and there’s an English Heritage castle to explore which offers free entry.

Find out more about the Harland Way

The Cinder Track, Scarborough to Whitby

Recommended by Lauren Pears from the Planet Edit

  • 21.7 miles each way – but there is a 4.5 mile stretch ideal for kids
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

The Cinder Track is a beautiful cycle trail that follows a disused railway line along the Yorkshire coast. Running from Scarborough to Whitby, or vice versa, this 21.7-mile linear route showcases epic sea views, peaceful woodland, sheep-peppered farms and the River Esk.

Coastal kids bike ride
Cinder Track

The trail is ideal for families as it follows quiet cycle paths, with just a few places where you’ll need to cross a bigger road. There are no steep hills and navigation is easy, as the Cinder Track is signposted the whole way.

The trail begins in Scarborough, behind the Sainsbury’s off Falsgrave Road. As you set off, you’ll pedal along the West Side of Peasholm Par before entering open countryside.

About seven miles into your ride, you’ll pass the old Hayburn Wyke Station, where you can grab refreshments at the 18th-century Hayburn Wyke Inn. If you have the time, head down to the Wyke itself, where you’ll find a stunning cove to enjoy.

From Hayburn Wyke, you’ll continue on to Ravenscar. The section of the trail from Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay is arguably the best, so if you are limited on time or cycling with very young children, riding from Ravenscar to Robin Hood’s Bay would be ideal.

There is plenty of parking available at both ends of the trail, as Whitby and Scarborough are major towns. The Sainsbury’s at the start of the trail in Scarborough is a convenient option, though. Bike hire is available from Bayhire, who are conveniently located 300 metres from the start of the trail in Scarborough.

Find out more about the Cinder Track

Cycle rides for families in the Lake District

Grizedale Forest, near Coniston

  • Various trails of 2 to 14 miles
  • Circular and linear
  • Hilly trails
  • Bike hire

Grizedale Forest is a brilliant destination for families – whether you want to cycle there or use it as a base for exploring the wider Lake District area. It is handily located between Coniston Water and Lake Windermere.

RUUP by Birgit Oigus, credit Amelia Harvey
RUUP by Birgit Õigus, credit Amelia Harvey, Grizedale Forest

There are nine cycle trails to choose from ranging from relatively easy routes for children right up to challenging routes for experienced mountain bikers. If your kids need an incentive to make it round a route, there’s the added attraction of sculptures hidden in the forest.

Be warned, the cycle trails at Grizedale are hilly but very scenic – lovely woodland views as well as open sections with fantastic vistas of the fells. The shortest route for families with young children is the two mile Goosey Foot Tarn trail.

Bikes and trailers are available to hire on site at Bike Treks Grizedale.

Find out more about family friendly Lake District cycling at Grizedale Forest

If you like the idea of sculpture trails, check out my guide to the best sculpture trails and sculpture parks across the UK.

 The Old Railway Line and Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Keswick

Recommended by Moumita Paul from Chasing the Long Road

  • 6 miles
  • Circular
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire in Keswick

Keswick in the Lake District is a charming market town on the north shore of Derwentwater. This town had railway services until 1966 – now, the Old Railway Line is a family-friendly cycling and walking route between Keswick and Threlkeld, a neighbouring small village.

Stone circle
Castlerigg stone circle

This popular cycling route starts and finishes near Keswick Museum and goes by the River Greta, covering a distance of about six miles. Along the way, you will enjoy a stunning view of the fells (mountains) that surround Keswick. You will cross the river a few times on your way as it turns back and forth. Extend this route a bit to include Castlerigg Stone Circle – one of the best prehistoric stone circles in the whole of Britain. Note, the stone circle extension to the route is not suitable for very young children as there is a steep section and some country road cycling.

This route is very family-friendly, relatively flat and properly way marked – suitable for all ages and bikes. This is a popular walking route as well. So, watch out for the walkers and hikers while on the ride. If you are not bringing your bike or don’t own one, don’t worry. There are many shops in Keswick town centre where you can hire a bike. Car parking and toilet facilities are also available in Keswick.

If you are looking for a place to eat, Keswick has a good range of cafes, pubs and restaurants. Bryson’s is a highly recommended bakery shop at the heart of the town.

Find out more about the Old Railway Line and Castlerigg Stone Circle

Family cycle routes in North Wales

Newborough Forest in Anglesey

  • 5 miles and 6 miles
  • Two circular trails
  • Mostly flat

This is one of the most scenic spots on Anglesey – a lovely forest trail which leads to my favourite beach in North Wales – Llanddwyn – with views across the water to Snowdonia.

Blue sky reflected onto water on beach in Anglesey Wales
Llanddwyn Beach

There are two circular trails to choose from, both of which loop through the forest from the car park. It’s best to arrive early if you’re visiting in good weather as the car park can fill up quite quickly.

The five mile family route follows information panels through the forest which work in conjunction with a family activity pack which can be collected from a dispenser at the start of the trail. The route is mostly flat but there are a couple of steep sections to tackle. The last part of the cycle route is a shared road back to the car park so you need to keep a look out for cars (which are hopefully moving slowly).

If you’re considering a trip to Anglesey, check out my guide to Anglesey family holidays.

Find out more about cycling at Newborough Forest

Mawddach Trail in Snowdonia

  • 9.5 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat
  • Bike hire

Don’t worry – although this is Snowdonia, you won’t be tackling any mountains on this route. The trail follows a disused railway line along the Mawddach Estuary.

The Mawddach Trail starts at the pretty market town of Dolgellau and runs all the way to Barmouth, crossing the Barmouth Toll Bridge (you do need to take care at the exit of the route as this is a busy road). The trail passes through nature reserves and there are stunning mountain views all around.

Family cycling along Mawddach Trail in Welsh mountains
The Mawddach Trail, credit Graig Wen

Car parking is available at the start of the route and bikes are available to hire at Dolgellau and Barmouth. If you don’t fancy tackling the whole route, there are various points along the way where you can join it. There’s even a campsite – Graig Wen – with direct access onto the trail.

This area of Wales is great for off-road cycling. For more biking adventures, head to Beics Brenin, the UK’s first and largest mountain bike trail centre where you’ll find miles of trails for all abilities – including for young children.

Bike hire, including kids’ bikes, tagalongs, trailers and child seats, is available 200 metres from the start of the trail at Dollgellau Cycles.

Find out more about the Mawddach Trail

Family cycle routes in Northern Ireland

Rathlin Island

As with the Isles of Scilly (see above), visitors to Rathlin Island (population 140) cannot bring their cars so there is very little traffic on the roads – in fact, the roads are used by walkers as well as vehicles and bikes.

Rathlin Island perfect for family bike ride
Rathlin Island

Rathlin Island is just six miles long and a mile wide so the distances are ideal for a family cycle ride. The terrain is mostly flat and paved except for a gravel section leading to the RSPB Seabird Centre at the Rathlin West Lighthouse. Between April and July, visitors have the opportunity to see puffins nesting – a truly brilliant wildlife experience.

On arrival at Rathlin Island harbour, bikes can be rented from the nearby hostel Soerneog which is a 10 minute walk from the ferry terminal. At the harbour you’ll also find a play area, toilets and a pub and café.

There is a regular 30 minute ferry service from Ballycastle on the Antrim Coast over to Rathlin Island.

To find out more about family holidays in Northern Ireland, check out my article on the best things to do in Northern Ireland with kids.

Family cycle routes in Scotland

The Speyside Way, Aviemore

  • 5 miles each way
  • Linear
  • Mostly flat

One of the problems with many of the linear routes I’ve described in this article is that once you’ve cycled along the trail you have to cycle all the way back again. The Speyside Way offers a different mode of transport back – a ride on the Strathspey Steam Railway, which welcomes cyclists and their bikes.

The Speyside Way in full is a 65 mile mile route through the Scottish Highlands. The part which families will enjoy runs between Aviemore and the village of Boat of Garten. This section takes cyclists through moorland with views of the Cairngorms and the nearby steam railway. There are sculptures to look for along the way.

Aviemore Bikes has a small selection of junior bikes available to hire but no trailers or tagalongs.

Find out more about the Speyside Way

Useful websites for family biking ideas

Sustrans – the National Cycle Network

The National Cycle Network covers signed routes and paths across the UK for cyclists and walkers.

Find out more about Sustrans

Forestry Commission family bike rides

The UK government’s Forestry Commission is responsible for the management of woodlands across the country. Many of these woodlands have brilliant cycle routes which are perfect for families.

There are useful maps on both the Forestry England and Forestry and Land Scotland which allow you to search for suitable woodlands to cycle in. Some of them – such as Wendover Woods in Buckinghamshire and Alice Holt in Surrey – have dedicated trails, a café, play areas and so forth, while others are simply a big tract of woodland for you to explore.

Family cycle routes on National Trust estates

We’ve enjoyed some lovely bike rides at National Trust properties. It’s important to check whether the estate you’re planning to visit allows bikes – quite a few don’t. But there are plenty of fantastic ones which do – we really enjoyed cycling around Blickling Estate in Norfolk. A brilliant National Trust property for safe cycling near London is Osterley Park – our kids loved whizzing round the skills track at the end.

The National Trust website has a really useful section on cycling with suggestions for young cyclists and more experienced riders.


Where is your favourite place for a family bike ride? Let me know in the comments below if you have a favourite kids bike ride to add to this list.

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Family cycle routes
Family friendly bike rides

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