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Our pick of the most scenic coastal bike rides in the UK

Britain has around 11,000 miles of coastline just waiting to be explored by you and your trusty two wheels, whether you’re looking for a lengthy and rugged challenge with awe-inspiring sea views or a short, leisurely excursion involving pretty pubs and picnic-perfect pitstops. And, even better, lots of these trails and paths are signposted and traffic free!

Here’s our top five road bike routes on the UK’s coast...

Cycling base layers in the Summer
Brighton Pier to Eastbourne – 34 miles

In Brighton, bike riders rule the roost. Cycle lanes are plentiful around town and not far away from the hustle and bustle there’s a beautiful sea front to pedal along. It’s also the starting point for a particularly picturesque (and safe, cycle-path dominated) route that ends in Eastbourne, right by the train station – great if you’re with kids who can’t handle the journey back.

If you’re interested in this relaxing ride, consider Brighton Pier point A. Glide along the water’s edge to Newhaven before swapping sea for Cuckmere River and then embark on a little saunter through the South Downs. There you’ll join Cuckoo Trail, which takes you to Eastbourne Park.

The Cardiff Bay Trail – 6 miles

Looking to make a day of it with the kids? Try the Cardiff Bay Trail. It’s just over six miles long, running around Cardiff Bay and across to the seaside town of Penarth via Pont y Werin, and mostly traffic-free the whole way.

Kick off with a big brunch in town – there are loads of restaurants and cafes to choose from – then check out the nearby Sports Village (hello mini tennis, street dance and swimming!) before hopping on your bikes towards the barrage where noisy water and a lovely view will keep all members of the families mesmerised.

Newcastle to Edinburgh – 170 miles

Sounds big, doesn’t it!? But the castles, old-timey fishing villages and beaches you’ll see along the way make it worth all that puff.

This shoreline ride is part of the North Sea Cycle Route, so it’s well signposted and winds its way through some built-up areas where you can take a break, grab a sarnie and use the facilities. It’s up to you which way you go, but South to North is best as you’ll go through less exciting places at the beginning and end on a high, quite literally, rolling past Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

Rathlin Island - 4.5 miles

Rathlin Island can be found six miles off the north coast of Northern Ireland – so the beginning of this journey is by boat rather than bike – and is brimming with wildlife.

Start in Ballycastle where the ferry will take you and your humble steed to Rathlin Island in about half an hour. Of course, if you’d rather not lug your bike, you can rent one from the harbour when you disembark. Then, it’s up to you whether you head north or south. Either way lighthouses will mark the end. The puffin to people ratio is high here, so don’t forget to pack your camera!

Staying for the weekend? You’ve probably heard of cyclists tackling the Giant’s Causeway and there’s a circular route that links Ballycastle to it using the Causeway Coastal Route and returning on the country roads of North Antrim, which is all well marked as part of the NCN 93.

The Crab and Winkle Way, Whitstable – 7.5 miles

Named after the railway line that ran along it from 1830 until 1952, The Crab and Winkle Way cycle route takes you from the heart of Canterbury through sleepy roads and spacious cycle paths to the seaside town of Whitstable. On the way you’ll see just how diverse Kent is, from its enchanting woodland – why not stop for a picnic? – to its farms and river. Don’t get lost. Look out for NCN route 1.