Royal Oak is pleased to announce a new slate of UK travel offerings in partnership with The Carter Company. We asked them their favorite biking spots in the UK – here’s what they said:
By Iona Carter, The Carter Company
Here at The Carter Company, we’ve spent the last 25 years hunting down the very best places to cycle in Britain. What makes a good cycling destination? In our opinion, you need:
- fabulous scenery and a landscape full of variety
- traffic-free, relatively flat routes (otherwise all you expend all your energy on getting up that hill, rather than enjoying the scenery around you)
- rich local history and culture, giving you an excuse to stop and explore points of interest along the way
- lovely boutique hotels within 30km of each other, so you have somewhere luxurious to relax in at the end of the day (and don’t have to cycle too far to get there!)
- a plethora of great cafes and restaurants – essential for refuelling throughout your trip!
As you can tell from the list, it’s a fairly demanding set of criteria, but then we want people to come to the UK to cycle and absolutely love it. It’s fair to say we also secretly enjoy the challenge!
If we had to whittle it down, and pick our absolute top 5 favourite places to bike in the UK, the list would read as follows:
1. The Trossachs in Scotland
Often described as ‘mini Scotland’, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park encapsulate all that Scotland is famous for: majestic mountains, misty lochs, fabulous views, wild landscapes and remote villages. Located just south of the Highlands, not far from Edinburgh and Glasgow, the Trossachs have been a designated National Park since 2002. The cycling here is superb and – if you know where you’re going – relatively hill-free. Pedal along idyllic loch-side lanes with dramatic mountains as a backdrop, conjuring the adventures of the famed Scottish outlaw Rob Roy, who called the Trossachs home. There are also some great luxury hotels in this part of Scotland, many of whom specialise in fine cuisine.
2. The River Thames
The Thames is often referred to as ‘Britain’s liquid history’ and it’s not hard to see why. The story of the Thames is really the story of Britain. Not only does it abound with history, but it also offers a landscape full of variety: in parts it is (to many people’s surprise) very rural, particularly along the Upper Thames meadows. The route is peppered with fabulous National Trust gems and culturally rich towns and cities: Windsor, Oxford, Hampton Court, Kew Gardens and of course, London. Whilst there isn’t a designated bike path, the cycling along the Thames is almost entirely traffic-free, and the river offers great flexibility, as there’s always the option of hopping on a boat instead of cycling. We offer the route in sections, or you can do the entire Thames from Source to Sea for a truly fascinating trip.
We have a fantastic route from coast to coast (north to south), which is pretty flat and entirely traffic-free along a disused railway line, in what is otherwise a very hilly and scenic area. Devon is where the Brits go on holiday. It offers great weather (most of the time), pretty villages tucked into verdant valleys, an interesting landscape and sweeping sandy beaches on the coast. En route, you can soak up the laid-back pace of life in Devon. The local culture is well known for its delicious cream teas and there is a thriving organic food movement in the area.
4. The Cotswolds
Better known perhaps than many other parts of the UK, the Cotswolds are universally loved for their immensely characterful and charming honey-coloured stone villages, rolling hills (‘wolds’ means hills), world-famous gardens including Hidcote and Kiftsgate and seriously delectable country house hotels that are redefining English luxury. Cycling here offers the chance to absorb it all up close. Other highlights include fantastic organic farm shops and Michelin-starred restaurants, cosy classic English pubs serving locally brewed ales, palaces, stately homes, museums, theatres, Roman history, local specialist architecture and more. It’s quintessential England!
Ireland is a dreamy place to explore by bike, with a bountiful network of cycle paths and quiet country roads to discover. We have a wonderfully unhurried trip in the unspoilt and utterly beautiful Connemara region on Ireland’s west coast. Long regarded as the ’emerald of Ireland’, the landscape here is full of surprises. There’s the rugged Twelve Ben mountain range, lush nature reserves, serene lakes, picturesque fishing villages, remote and pristine sandy beaches, and beyond that, miles and miles of Atlantic ocean stretching as far as the eye can see. The area is also famed for its warm hospitality, with superb hotels offering excellent, friendly service and delicious food.