Malvern Hills, Worcestershire and Herefordshire
The Malvern Hills are wilderness within the Midlands, outliers of the Welsh mountains and beloved by artists, writers, poets and composers. The Malverns had been composer (and eager bicycle owner) Edward Elgar’s muse, and the inspiration for 14th-century poet William Langland, whose well-known work Piers Plowman contains the phrases: “On a May morning, on a Malvern hill-top/A marvel befell me, as might a fairy tale.”
Riding a ridge, hilltop to hilltop, is the particular biking expertise the Malvern Hills present. North to south they stand like a regiment, a cussed chain of 680-million-year-old rock, Wales to the west and the rolling fields of the Midlands to the east. Bike-accessible bridleways hint nearly all the ridgeline, and there are a number of automotive parks alongside it too. Worcestershire Beacon (435 metres) is the very best level. A toposcope on the summit places names to locations within the view. Ride out and again alongside the ridge, or alongside the ridge and again on the quiet(ish) roads on the Malverns’ west aspect. The japanese flank roads are busier, however Great Malvern is on the east aspect and is well-stocked with consuming locations and watering holes.
Cape Wrath, north-west Scotland
Lighthouse at Cape Wrath. Photograph: Stephen Finn/Alamy
This is likely one of the wildest biking experiences anyplace. It’s in a wilderness known as the Parph, amongst among the oldest geology on the planet. The trip goes from the Kyle of Durness ferry to the surging sea at Cape Wrath, one among solely two named Capes within the nation (the opposite being Cape Cornwall). Check ferry instances (on capewrathferry.wordpress.com), and the climate, then observe the highway from the place the ferry drops you for simply over 11 miles to the Cape Wrath lighthouse. It sounds easy however the highway is tough and hilly, whereas the surroundings is beautiful. By 1949 this trip was such a ceremony of passage for adventurous cyclists that creator Rex Coley based the Cape Wrath Fellowship. All you wanted to hitch was on the ferry and one other on the lighthouse to show you’d carried out it.
Torr Head Road, County Antrim
Photograph: David Cordner/Alamy
There’s a highway in Northern Ireland that’s so unbelievable the actual fact it was constructed in any respect is fairly wild. It’s known as the Torr Head Road and it runs between Cushendun and Ballyvoy. Further south, Cushendall village stands on the northern finish of the A2 Antrim coast highway, which is a feat of civil engineering itself. The highway to Torr Head, although, is slim, roughly surfaced and consists of three dizzying descents and three brutal climbs. All are not less than a mile lengthy, and have sections of 25% gradient. The view east to the Mull of Kintyre in Scotland is spectacular, as long as you have breath spare to lift your head and take a look at it.
White roads of the South Downs, East Sussex
The South Downs, operating from Eastbourne to Winchester, is a series of round-topped inexperienced hills, crisscrossed and adopted by previous trails worn into their underlying chalk, creating an English model of Tuscany’s well-known strade bianche. The good South Downs wild biking expertise is to trip alongside one of many low chalk trails and admire the shapely hills, then climb up on to them and observe a hilltop path again to the place you began. Alfriston is a superb beginning place.
While there, take a look at the winged wheel image outdoors Ye Olde Smugglers Inne on Waterloo Square. Winged wheels had been an early score system devised by the Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC), now Cycling UK. Established in 1881, they had been awarded to consuming locations and lodges that CTC officers had inspected and organized particular charges with for his or her members. Head north from the Smugglers to a crossroads, the place the metalled highway goes sharp proper. Continue straight on the path. This takes you alongside the bottom of the South Downs, by means of a wonderful patchwork of arable fields. Cross some minor roads and trails: flip left on any one among them when able to climb to the highest of the downs. Once there, decide up the chalk path that runs alongside the tops and observe it again to Alfriston.
Bloody Bush Road, Northumberland
Kielder Forest. Photograph: Jon Sparks/Alamy
Start at Lewis Burn automotive park in Kielder Forest. Follow the path subsequent to Lewis Burn to its confluence with Akenshaw Burn. Take the correct path fork, nonetheless climbing by means of the forest to interrupt tree cowl on the Bloody Bush Toll. The pillar with previous toll costs on it’s the Scottish border however Bloody Bush doesn’t seek advice from battles between the 2 nations, reasonably it comes from a time when the border clans regarded themselves as a 3rd nation, with its personal legal guidelines. They had been the Border reivers (raiders), and so they made a residing as mercenaries and cattle thieves. The identify Bloody Bush dates from the 15th century, when a Northumbrian clan stole cattle from the Scottish aspect. The Scottish reivers tracked them down, slaughtered them right here and repossessed their cattle in compliance with reiver regulation. For an extra-wild expertise, do that trip at night time; Kielder is a darkish sky park with little or no mild air pollution and clear nights are unforgettable.
Ennerdale, Lake District
Photograph: Shaun Barr/Alamy
A jewel of the Lake District, Ennerdale Water fills the decrease valley flooring, reflecting the forested hillsides and surrounding mountains. There’s a number of wild biking within the Lake District however this easy route is accessible and will get wilder the upper you go. Start in Bowness Knott automotive park (to not be confused with Bowness-on-Windermere) and head east. The path follows the north financial institution of Ennerdale Water, which isn’t actually a lake as a result of the Liza river flows into its japanese finish, turning into the Ehen when it flows out of the west. The spot the place the river enters Ennerdale is known as Char Dub, named after the Arctic char, a fish that solely lives in very chilly water. From Char Dub observe the Liza upstream, once more on the north aspect, so far as the Black Sail youth hostel (which sells tea and cake), then retrace the path to Bowness Knott.
Glyndwr’s Way, Welsh borders
Beacon Hill on Glyndwr’s Way. Photograph: Alamy
Knighton, on the English-Welsh border, stands on the coronary heart of an online of attention-grabbing and historic bridleways. Glyndwr’s Way is one mile out of city heading west on the A488. It’s a tiny lane at first however turns into a path/lane you possibly can observe for miles. Owain Glyndŵr was the final Welsh-born Prince of Wales. He led a Welsh revolt in opposition to English occupation all through the primary decade of the 1400s. It was unsuccessful, and he disappeared. Head north-west up the Teme valley and also you quickly see indicators for Offa’s Dyke. It was constructed (lengthy earlier than there was an England or a Wales) by King Offa to maintain the individuals of the Kingdom of Powys out of his Mercia. The dyke may be traced from the Dee estuary south to the river Wye. Parts of it are bridleway, whereas a community of different bridleways cross it.
Four miles additional alongside the Teme valley, Offa’s Dyke meets the Jack Mytton Way, which is ideal for a wild cycle within the Shropshire Hills. Mytton was a Shropshire landowner and a totally disreputable character. He’s carried out properly to be remembered with this path, a pub and the annual Jack Mytton run. Expelled from Westminster and Harrow, Mytton left Cambridge with out a diploma however having allegedly consumed 2,000 bottles of port. In 1819, he entered parliament, giving everybody who voted for him £10. That, alongside along with his consuming and playing, bankrupted him and he ended his days in debtor’s jail.
Scarborough to Whitby on the Cinder Path, North Yorkshire
Cinder Path from close to Hawkser Bottom. Photograph: Jamie Smith/Alamy
Prepared cycleways aren’t everyone’s concept of a difficult trip however they’re good for households and a few, like this one, are fairly wild. It’s a part of Route 1 of the National Cycle Network, and constructed on the previous Whitby to Scarborough rail mattress. It had cinder reasonably than stone ballast, so after the road closed in 1965, and the monitor was eliminated, it grew to become often called the Cinder Path. Running from North Bay in Scarborough to Hawkser, a village simply south of Whitby, the path is 17½ miles lengthy and performs disguise and search with the ocean all the best way. Ravenscar summit has the wildest view: the ocean is barely 500 metres away however 195 metres beneath. The tearoom in Ravenscar is a superb refuelling cease, and Whitby has one of the best fish and chips within the nation however then I’m from Yorkshire so …
Breckland Droves, Norfolk and Suffolk
Oxburgh within the Breckland park. Photograph: Rod Edwards/Alamy
Breckland is 393 sq m of sandy heathland and forest. It’s one of many driest locations within the UK, and there are few hills, which makes for straightforward driving. The greatest trails listed below are known as droves, used a few years in the past to maneuver livestock to and from markets. Their paths are marked on the Ordnance Survey Landranger map (144) with damaged lengthy pink dashes or bigger pink dots. Brandon, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border is surrounded by droves and it’s simple to plan rides with a map. Look out for the Breckland pine rows, the place tall bushes stand between open fields to scale back soil erosion. Scots pines thrive within the dry situations right here, and so they have open canopies, in contrast to another pines, making Breckland woods pleasant locations to trip.
Torrington to Braunton on the Tarka Trail, north Devon
Photograph: Nick Turner/Alamy
The Tarka Trail wanders throughout Devon, however this stretch runs by means of a stunning vary of countryside, from its deepest-Devon begin to its seaside vacation spot. From Torrington, the path is easy for a lot of the method, with a number of cafes – the rail carriage in Bideford is enjoyable. It crosses the Torridge river twice within the first two miles. Stop on the weir below the second bridge and if the season is true you might even see salmon leaping up it. The Torridge widens and turns into tidal simply earlier than Bideford, turning into open sea at Instow. From right here, cyclists can trip proper across the Taw estuary, crossing the river in Barnstaple, to finish the trip in sunny, sandy Braunton.
Chris Sidwells is the creator of Wild Cycling: A Pocket Guide to 50 Great Rides off the Beaten Track in Britain (Little, Brown, £12.99)