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8 family cycle rides with perfect picnic stops

Summer is an ideal time to get outside and explore on two wheels. Here are our pick of the trails for a family jaunt, complete with picture perfect picnic spots!

If the spirit of the Tour de France inspires you but you want cycling that is a little more family-friendly, try one of our selected cycle routes, from a lochside adventure in Scotland to a woodland wildlife haven in Cornwall. Pack your picnic, round up the kids and head off for a memorable family day out.

1. The Old Military Road, Argyll

If you fancy cycling in Scotland but are worried about all those mountains, the trick is to go for a lochside ride where the terrain is nice and flat (or the loch would be a waterfall!).The Old Military Road, with views of Ben Lomond, numerous picturesque picnic spots and no fewer than three lochs, will delight all the family. To add to the excitement, it starts and finishes with a ride on the waterbus across Loch Lomond. Pick up the 16km return trail at Tarbet, just 7 miles’ drive from our cabins at Ardgartan Argyll.

2. The old railway route at Strathyre

The sustrans National Cycling Route 7 goes past our cabins at Strathyre and the 10km stretch along the old railway line from Strathyre to Callander takes in a loch, a waterfall, an oak woodland, the ruins of a Roman fort and a river, with the majestic Ben Ledi as the backdrop.  Take your pick of glorious picnic spots or stop for lunch in the famous Mhor Tearoom at Callander before the return journey.

3. Sea views in North Yorkshire

Load up your cycles for the 20-mile drive to the coast from Cropton or Keldy for this spectacular cycling route. The sustrans National Route 1 runs along the coast from Scarborough to Whitby on the 34km Cinder Track, which is a former railway line. There are lots of great picnic stops with stunning sea views and many places of interest which will turn this into a fabulous day out.

4. The Ancient Sherwood route

The Ancient Sherwood route takes you through some of the oldest woodland in the UK, starting pretty much at your cabin in Sherwood Forest. It’s 32km of gentle cycling that rewards you with a National Nature Reserve and protected Sites of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSIs) as well as ancient woodland that speaks of the legend of Robin Hood. Lay out your picnic in Clumber Park, where there are visitor facilities, a woodland play park and space for a family cricket match.

5. Local history in the Forest of Dean

The Family Trail through the gorgeous Forest of Dean is a 15km waymarked circular route that runs mainly along old railway tracks. It has been planned with families in mind, with a good surface and no difficult sections and there are villages, woodlands and picnic spots along the way. An exciting add-on is the Hidden Heritage app which you can use to see then and now shots, bringing the Forest’s mining heritage to life.

6. Wildlife watching in Thetford Forest

Brandon Country Park is a 30-acre wildlife haven within Thetford Forest, near to our cabins at Thorpe Forest. Take the 13km Poacher Trail for a thrilling combination of undulating bumps, narrow tracks and open forest drives. The trail should take about two hours, which leaves time for a picnic by the lake, watching the dragonflies and damselflies, before exploring the walled garden and spooky mausoleum. Look out for buzzards, sparrowhawks and nuthatches and listen for green woodpeckers and the barking of muntjac deer.

7. Explore Watership Down country

The Watership Down trail in the North Wessex Downs, near to Blackwood Forest, is a glorious 27km cycle ride through some of Hampshire’s prettiest countryside, made famous by Richard Adams in his epic rabbit tale. Starting at Kinsgsclere village, the strenuous climb is worth it for the rewarding views from Watership Down ridge. Up here, unpack your lunch and savour a special family moment away from the hustle and bustle of real life.

8. Clay Trails in Cornwall

The clay mines of Cornwall go back 250 years but at the Clay Trails, the mining has long gone and nature has been encouraged to flourish.  The network of cycle trails is mostly off-road and offers a great opportunity to immerse the children in a natural environment along with a history lesson. Stop at the Ruddle Pit viewpoint for a picnic overlooking the luminous turquoise dam, which gets it colour for the mica particles used to clean the clay. Our cabins at Deerpark are just over half an hour’s drive away.

Add a little luxury to your cycling holiday

To make life easy, hire your cycles online from us when you book your cabin. And stay in a Golden Oak or Silver Birch so that, after a day’s cycling, you can sink into the hot tub for some well-deserved relaxation. 

Family cabins are disappearing fast, so hurry. Book your cabin today and you could be cycling a picturesque trail, anywhere from Scotland to Cornwall!