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Wild Cycling @The Times

Updated: Sep 6, 2022

Wild Cycles' and Komoot's guide to 16 routes in wild and beautiful places hit the news stands in the Times this week

We were over the moon when invited by The Times to compile a guide to cycling in wild and remote places - for its Weekend Supplement.

Working with Rob and the amazing team at Komoot - this fabulous collection of hand-picked routes came together in a very British Wild Cycling Guide published in The Times Weekend.

The 16 routes incorporate some of the best off-road riding the country has to offer. From meandering river-side cruises in the south to the rugged Highlands - it has it all.

The Weekend Supplement guide includes handy descriptions of routes, where to start and finish, amazing sites to look out for en-route. Complete with links to details maps on Komoot.

When we were approached by the lovely folk at The Times - we turned to our partners - Komoot - to help create the content for a guide to cycling in wild and beautiful places in the UK. Komoot is a navigation and route planning app that allows you to plan, create and follow routes. Rob and the team pulled out all the stops - and the result is a fabulous collection of 16 stunning routes from the south west up to Scotland. Taking in some of the most spectacular scenery and varied landscapes - this will have you itching to get on yer bike and ride em all!

Photo: MarkovichJames

Thanks to The Times for the spread and for the opportunity to feature in The Times - what an honour!

View the complete guide online:

Detailed maps @

The guide to 16 spectacular routes in the UK

It’s no secret that Scotland has some of the best-kept wilderness in the UK; riding from Muir of Ord to Ardgay leads through remote landscapes in the Highlands. Spectacular gravel roads wind through twisting valleys and velvet hills, peppered with water in every form. From Muir of Ord train station you ride along the banks of Black Water and Loch Garve, where you’re more likely to spot birds of prey than people. Continue to Loch Vaich and join the River Carron, which flows into Ardgay, a picturesque village on the southwest shore of the Dornoch Firth, where you take a beautiful, scenic hour-long train ride back to the start at Muir of Ord. 

Aberfoyle, gateway to the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, is one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland and well known for its endless gravel roads. This figure-of-eight route takes you high above lochs, along wildlife-rich rivers and through verdant hills. From Duke’s Pass, turn right to join Lochard Road, ride along the southern edge of Loch Ard and then up into the surrounding peaks, taking in the Loch Ard viewpoint. Continuing on, the summit of Ben Lomond marks the highest point of this adventure. From the top, catch your breath overlooking the Highlands before heading downhill again towards Aberfoyle. This 21.5-mile route is suitable for intermediate-level riders who are prepared for a climb.

In the heart of the Peak District National Park, this route navigates a series of three spectacular spots - the Howden Reservoir, Derwent Reservoir and Ladybower Reservoir. As you ride the route in a clockwise direction, starting from Bamford train station, the striking Peak District views will open up as the Ladybower Dam comes into sight. Once you have crossed the Derwent and Westend rivers at the northern end of the reservoir chain you make your way back down the eastern side, where most of the gravel and off-road riding will take place.

The city may not be the first place you look for off-road rides, but Bristol has some exhilarating trails if you know where to go. This route seeks out riverside dirt paths, grassy park fields, leafy woodland tracks and traffic-free cycleways. You pass through Eastville Park, across the gravel viaduct trail over Royate Hill, through the Stoke Park Estate with the Dower House and round to a rocky descent, before pedalling back along the River Frome. You can easily access the route along the Bristol to Bath cycle path, joining it from Russell Town Avenue.

A huge man-made lake set among forests, Kielder Water is a wonderful place to dip your toes into gravel riding. Set off from Kielder Castle, a stone’s throw from the lake, and ride to the water’s edge. You follow flat gravel trails through breath-taking scenery: forests, views over the lake and green pastures. The easy terrain makes this ideal for gravel novices, but it’s a great ride despite its forgiving difficulty. With historic bridges, diverse wildlife, thick forests and unusual wooden-cabin rest spots, this route is varied and fun for all levels of riders.

With wooded landscapes and an abundance of biodiversity, the Howardian Hills are a well-kept secret in North Yorkshire. This adventure begins in Yearsley, a small village set among the hills. Ride on paths through Yearsley Wood before joining the main road at Gilling, which has a spectacular 12thcentury castle. You alternate between lonely countryside and villages such as Hovingham, Coneysthorpe and Terrington, where you can replenish your energy in a pub garden.

Taking in ancient byways and farm tracks in the beautiful Cotswolds, set out from Sherston village to follow a quiet lane through a patchwork of fields. Pick up a lovely gravel byway that leads on to the Fosse Way, an ancient Roman road built in Britain during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. Riding in a south-easterly direction you enter the Copcote bridleway, where a track meanders through the the forest. The rest of the route features some lovely rolling gravel and bridleways. Swing past the village of Corston before another route highlight - Malmesbury Common. Pause halfway along the common to soak up the stunning views of the surrounding landscape. This route offers a blend of undulating gravel tracks and country lanes, making it an ideal introduction to off-road riding.

The heather-topped hills and rolling pastures of the Clwydian Range in north Wales are made for gravel biking. Formed millions of years ago, the mountain chain became an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1985. This route explores stunning corners of the region, taking you up and over the hills on gravel tracks and bridleways. Set out on the road leaving the village heading north, turning right at the T-junction, then left to travel through Llangynhafal, cycling a loop that takes in Bryn Golau. Moel Famau, the Clwydian’s highest summit, will test your grit after this, but the views across oceans of purple heather and far into Wales make every pedal stroke worth it.

From Grinton village, a paved but challenging road climb soon gives way to gravel as you enter Grinton Moor. The countryside here is magnificent: windswept, wide moorlands and oceans of heather frame your way. After a visit to the 14th century Bolton Castle, another paved climb carves in between the Fleak and Woodhall Greets majestic peaks. At the top you join glorious gravel paths and descend back into Grinton.

Taking you from the sea to rugged mountains on the west coast of north Wales with 1,340m of elevation gain, this route will test your muscles as you ride through some of the most impressive landscapes in Wales. Set off from Barmouth Bridge, turning right on Min-y-Don towards the Cregennan Lakes. From the mountains you descend to Llwyngwril, a coastal village with plenty of food and drink options, before riding back into the mountains. Rocky hillsides, pastures and slopes frame your ride back towards the mouth of the River Mawddach. Cross the water on Barmouth Bridge to return.

With challenging slate single track and rocky paths through some of the most spectacular scenery in mid-Wales, this route is not for the faint-hearted. From Machynlleth centre, head along the Afon Dulas (river) onto the unsurfaced roads until you cross the Afon Hengawn (river; avoid after heavy rain). An incredible double-track road leads alongside Nant-y-Moch Reservoir. Finally, a bridleway takes you back over to Bryn Moel past a sheep track where you join the Chute, a tricky loose slate trail. This remote route is suitable only for experienced off-road/gravel riders.

The natural beauty of the Lake District has inspired visitors for generations. From the station, turn left on Victoria Street, joining Victoria Street and then turning left on Crescent Road, taking a straight line until you reach Ferry Nab to cross Windermere. From here, ride along gravel paths through iconic lakeland landscapes such as Langdale Valley. Fells and dales, shaped by humans over the centuries, are dotted with lakes and small tarns as you ride between Windermere, Esthwaite, Coniston Water and Elter Water, surrounded by farmland and windswept hills. The picturesque villages en route have plenty of refreshment opportunities to keep you fuelled as you ride.

Setting off from the outskirts of Cardiff, cycling from Blackweir Bridge with the River Taff on your right and Pontcanna Fields to your left, this ride explores the green and tranquil scenery around Caerphilly Mountain. Rocky, rooty trails lead through thick woodland that is wonderfully peaceful considering its proximity to the city. As you near Caerphilly the views open up, revealing patchwork countryside and fields of grazing sheep. Explore the hills before looping back towards Cardiff, passing Llanishen Reservoir.

This beautiful ride winds its way through the picturesque Tudor village of Aldbury, ramps up to the Ridgeway and through the National Trust’s 5,000-acre Ashridge Estate, featuring ancient trees, lush meadows and a rich variety of wildlife including fallow deer. Cruise past the Bridgewater Monument until you reach the spectacular Ivinghoe Beacon at the western tip of the Ridgeway, where you’ll enjoy 360-degree views across Aylesbury Vale. Cruising along sweeping forest trails, you’ll be treated to some of the Chilterns’ best off-road biking. The route doubles back on itself from Ivinghoe Beacon. Follow the track you came on, taking a sharp right-hand turn (before you get to Bridgewater Monument) for more stunning valley views. Follow this trail, crossing over Stocks Road and around the Boundary of the golf course to head back to Tring station. For refreshments, take a short detour to the fabulous Chiltern Velo Café and bike shop in Hawridge or the Musette in Aldbury - for coffee, cake or a light lunch and then it’s a short hop back to Tring station. Nearest cycle hire: Café:

Spectacular paths lead through the valley’s forested slopes, making for wonderful gravel riding. This gentle route sets off from the Afan Forest Park Visitor Centre and takes you along the banks of the River Afan. Cycling trails wind through the valley, where you can choose between challenging or beginner routes. This flat, traffic-free ride is ideal for those dipping their toes into gravel biking for the first time as well as enjoying nature and green and peaceful surroundings.

With endless countryside on its doorstep, Sheffield is a great base for gravel riding. From the city centre, you ride into wild moorlands on the edge of the Peak District National Park. Cycle through the peaceful heathlands of Fox Hagg Nature Reserve and past Redmires Upper Reservoir. A chain of slab causeways brings you up to Stanage Edge, impressive cliffs with spectacular views over the moors. The Wyming Brook Drive forest trails lead to Rivelin Reservoir, where you return to Fox Hagg and the centre of Sheffield.

Photo: MarkovichJames

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