Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

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honesty
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Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby honesty » 15 Apr 2019, 10:18am

I'm taking my 8 year old off for a weekend tour soon and we're cycling the Devon Coast to Coast, but other than this route, the Kennet and Avon route and Hadrians Cycleway, I'm not aware of other signposted/named routes in the UK that are child friendly. Anyone got other suggestions?

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby MrsHJ » 15 Apr 2019, 11:41am

Just to understand you are looking for a largely off road trail suitable for a multi day tour and not too bonkers hills etc?

I’ll be fascinated to see the answers- I’ve only done this sort of thing with my kids in Brittany and the Netherlands.

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby honesty » 15 Apr 2019, 11:48am

Basically yes. Camping as a preference for me as well, but not necessary. Just seems that a lot of the longer distance routes in the UK are either very hilly (nature of the island I know) or can be on non friendly roads.

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby Tangled Metal » 15 Apr 2019, 12:10pm

This sounds an interesting thread. 6 year old son in our case. We are always looking for safe routes.

My only thought are linking the peak district routes based on old train lines. Tissington, Monsal and high peaks trails. The Tissington one could form one side of a triangular route that uses quiet green lanes and minor lanes towards a reservoir ss part of the base of the triangle. Very safe for almost all of it. You'll have to cross a busy road in the base link of that triangle route. I have no idea how far it is.

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby honesty » 15 Apr 2019, 12:13pm

Tangled Metal wrote:This sounds an interesting thread. 6 year old son in our case. We are always looking for safe routes.

My only thought are linking the peak district routes based on old train lines. Tissington, Monsal and high peaks trails. The Tissington one could form one side of a triangular route that uses quiet green lanes and minor lanes towards a reservoir ss part of the base of the triangle. Very safe for almost all of it. You'll have to cross a busy road in the base link of that triangle route. I have no idea how far it is.


This works well I think if you link in with the High Peaks trail and around Carsington water. The one thats a bit of a problem is the Monsal trail just because of the roads at the start/end I think. May not give enough distance though...

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby Vorpal » 15 Apr 2019, 12:48pm

I took my kids on some routes from north London and in Essex and Suffolk, NCN 1, Blackwater Trail, Flitch Way, and some quiet back lanes. The sustrans routes through Chelmsford and Colchester are off-road, and mostly good quality. There are some barriers, though I think the worst have been moved or removed.

Goldeneye maps for Suffolk and Norfolk have very nice and relatively flat quiet lane routes. Many of them are also quite scenic, ambling amongst postcard-picture medieval cottages covered in roses and wisteria. Plenty of little country pubs with camping, parks or forests that allow camping, village tea rooms for lunches, and things for kids to do. There are zoos, castle ruins, playgrounds, steam trains, nature reserves, falconry centres, animal sanctuaries, farms to visit (and sometimes camp at), etc.
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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby irc » 15 Apr 2019, 1:22pm

Loch Lomond to Edinburgh. Almost all off road. Almost completely flat. Trains from finish back to start with no need to book bike spaces. From Balloch, Loch Lomond it's towpath to Dumbarton. Afew quiet streets for a couple of miles. Then railtrail to Glasgow. Then canal towpath to Edinburgh.

Kid friendly things en route include Dumbarton Castle. Falkirk wheel. In Falkirk the Kelpies are a 3 miles off route. Linkithgow Palace. Edinburgh Castle.

Something like 70 75 miles.

Despite its sometimes deserved reputation Glasgow is perfectly safe during the day. The can towpath is busy with cyclists, dog walkers etc. There is a few canalside pub, lock 27, Glasgow, Stables, Kirkintilloch. More further east. Plenty accommodation nearby. Scope for camping on quieter stretches.

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby mjr » 15 Apr 2019, 2:58pm

Vorpal wrote:Goldeneye maps for Suffolk and Norfolk have very nice and relatively flat quiet lane routes.

Yep, we can do quiet lanes aplenty here, but if you want off-road then you're basically stuffed once you get about 5 miles out of towns unless you like dirt, sand and often-gnarly gravel.

Cambridge to Newmarket in one direction and Grafham Water or St Neots via St Ives and Huntingdon in the other can be done almost all on motor-free tarmac, although there's a gotcha between St Ives and Huntingdon where the signposted route 51 involves busy roads through Godmanchester while there's a quieter alternative through Houghton and Wyton. From St Neots, faffy back roads will get you to the Sandy-Bedford rail trail, but I fear they may be too busy at times and I don't know if there's a good crossing of the St Neots bypass.

Milton Keynes has lots of motor-free tarmac redways but they're slowly crumbling/potholing, it's mostly garden-city-style riding and it soon deteriorates to gravel outside the city. That said, while the route to Bedford looks like the same old rat runs and detours, it's now possible to get to Buckingham on an average-quality roadside cycleway, Northampton on quietish back roads and Leighton Buzzard by towpath. If someone built 3½ miles of cycleway east from Leighton Buzzard to the start of the Sewell Greenway, it'd then connect to an above-average cycle route network spreading from London that's about 80% motor-free and 19% suburban streets.
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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby Vorpal » 15 Apr 2019, 3:11pm

irc wrote:Loch Lomond to Edinburgh. Almost all off road. Almost completely flat. Trains from finish back to start with no need to book bike spaces. From Balloch, Loch Lomond it's towpath to Dumbarton. Afew quiet streets for a couple of miles. Then railtrail to Glasgow. Then canal towpath to Edinburgh.

Kid friendly things en route include Dumbarton Castle. Falkirk wheel. In Falkirk the Kelpies are a 3 miles off route. Linkithgow Palace. Edinburgh Castle.

Something like 70 75 miles.

Despite its sometimes deserved reputation Glasgow is perfectly safe during the day. The can towpath is busy with cyclists, dog walkers etc. There is a few canalside pub, lock 27, Glasgow, Stables, Kirkintilloch. More further east. Plenty accommodation nearby. Scope for camping on quieter stretches.

Actually, of all the places I've been touring, Glasgow was one of my favourites, and I never felt unsafe there. The most dangerous thing that happened to us was that a tipsy elderly gent sort of adopted my brother and tried to teach him tae spek Glaswegian.
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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby mjr » 15 Apr 2019, 3:41pm

mjr wrote:I don't know if there's a good crossing of the St Neots bypass.

It turns out there's now a path under the bypass next to the Great Ouse, accessible from Barford Road Pocket Park and possibly across the locks by the Rivermill Tavern. I'm not quite clear whether it dumps you in the industrial estate or continues to Little Barford. The relevant Google Streetview hasn't been updated since 2010.
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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby Thehairs1970 » 15 Apr 2019, 5:48pm

Re Devon coast to coast. You do realise that about 40miles of the route is on roads. I'm not quite sure If this is child friendly. There are a few hills as well. Leaving Ilfracombe bring some back memories of hills. Tarka Trail south to Meeth is a long but easy climb. The area between Holsworthy and Okehampton is up and down with a steep one out of Okehampton to the Granite way. Also be aware of the bit between Horrabridge and Yelverton, south of Tavistock. Steep one there too. Highlights for me were the section between Barnestaple and Biddeford, the cafe at East Yarde, Mellon Viaduct and Gem Bridge.

What are you doing for accommodation?

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby honesty » 15 Apr 2019, 7:11pm

Thehairs1970 wrote:Re Devon coast to coast. You do realise that about 40miles of the route is on roads. I'm not quite sure If this is child friendly. There are a few hills as well. Leaving Ilfracombe bring some back memories of hills. Tarka Trail south to Meeth is a long but easy climb. The area between Holsworthy and Okehampton is up and down with a steep one out of Okehampton to the Granite way. Also be aware of the bit between Horrabridge and Yelverton, south of Tavistock. Steep one there too. Highlights for me were the section between Barnestaple and Biddeford, the cafe at East Yarde, Mellon Viaduct and Gem Bridge.

What are you doing for accommodation?


I think it’s about 30 if you do the full length but we’re starting from the start of the Plym valley trail opposite Sainsbury’s and will be finishing at Braunton beach so will be cutting out some of that anyway. I’ve done it myself a few times, either sections or the full length. I’m also hoping the off road section between Brentor and Lydford will be dry enough to be hard enough for our touring bikes. To be honest I am only worried about 3 bits, the hill into Lydford which will be at the end of the first day, the hill out of Okehampton going north, and the bit Between Hatherleigh and the Tarka trail where I’m trying to work out whether the absolutely awful A road will be better than the long diversion. I’m currently leaning towards the Sheepwash route... but hoping they get the extension planned down from Meeth to the lane just above Made Well.

We’ll be camping at Lydford and Smytham manor.

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby Thehairs1970 » 15 Apr 2019, 10:34pm

Yeah. Sorry, I meant Hatherleigh not Holsworthy. That bit is shocking really. I think I'd do the A road. Sounds like you are familiar with it so good luck.

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby Jamesh » 15 Apr 2019, 11:58pm

Leeds Liverpool canal.
Both beautiful and gritty in equal measure 130miles.
A few locks but mainly flat.
Barnoldwick about half way and a good place to stop.

Cheers James

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Re: Child friendly cycle routes in the UK

Postby pwa » 16 Apr 2019, 7:44am

When we cycled the Way of the Roses my daughter was about 9 years old. We did it with three overnight stops along the way (camping except for one youth hostel in York) and every day finished with a pub meal. It isn't off-road, but it is mostly on nice roads and we enjoyed it. I think we walked up one hill and rode the rest. No safety issues.

At some point you have to introduce your kids to cycling on nice roads.