Unearth the Best Gravel Bike Routes in the UK: A Rider’s Guide
Are you ready to embark on an adventure that combines the thrill of road cycling with the ruggedness of mountain biking? Look no further than gravel biking – a rapidly growing discipline that has taken the cycling world by storm. Whether you’re a seasoned gravel cyclist or new to the sport, the UK offers a plethora of incredible gravel bike routes waiting to be explored. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you on a journey through some of the best gravel bike routes in the UK, from the picturesque countryside of Wales to the rugged terrain of Scotland and the rolling hills of England.
Gravel Riding: The Perfect Blend of Road and Mountain Biking
Gravel riding has revolutionized the cycling scene, bridging the gap between road cycling and mountain biking. Originating in North America, this exciting discipline emerged as cyclists sought to venture off traditional routes and explore forest fire roads, ridgeways, and long-forgotten wagon trails. The popularity of gravel biking quickly spread worldwide, including to the UK’s humble shores. What sets gravel riding apart is its versatility – it encompasses light off-road forest trails, roads, and even bridleways, offering a diverse and thrilling cycling experience.
In the UK, gravel riding presents a unique challenge. Unlike the vast expanses of fire roads found in the US or Australia, the UK’s gravel routes often comprise a mix of terrains, ensuring a varied and exciting ride. When selecting the routes for this guide, we considered several factors: distance, accessibility, suitability for all fitness levels, and the presence of interesting landmarks and attractions along the way. Our aim is to provide you with a collection of unforgettable gravel bike routes that cater to a wide range of cyclists.
So, dust off your trusty gravel bike, strap on your helmet, and get ready to discover the hidden gems of the UK’s gravel riding scene.
The Best Gravel Bike Routes in the UK
John Whitney’s Ridgeway: A Journey Through History
The Ridgeway, located in southern England, offers a captivating journey through time. This ancient road, dating back 5,000 years, predates even the stone circles of Avebury, Wiltshire. Stretching 140km from Avebury to Ivinghoe Beacon in the Chilterns, the Ridgeway is a National Trail open to cyclists.
While the Ridgeway is more popular with walkers, it presents a thrilling challenge for gravel bike enthusiasts. With its ever-changing terrain and narrow tires, navigating the Ridgeway requires a thorough examination of gravel riding skills. The trail offers a mix of gravel and forest tracks, keeping riders on their toes throughout the journey.
To fully appreciate the ancient stones of Avebury, we recommend starting your ride there. Along the route, you’ll encounter fascinating historical sites, such as the Iron Age forts of Barbury Castle and Liddington Castle. Don’t miss the Wayland’s Smithy burial tomb, built around 3,590 BC.
As you delve deeper into the Ridgeway, be prepared for a lack of facilities. We recommend being self-sufficient, as opportunities for food and drink are scarce along the route. However, nearby towns and villages offer respite if needed.
Distance: 44.4 miles / 71.4km Route: Ridgeway
Sam Dansie’s Kielder Forest: A Gravel Paradise
For gravel riders seeking an extensive network of gravel roads, Kielder Forest in Northumberland is a dream come true. As one of the largest areas of commercial woodland in the UK, Kielder Forest offers a wide range of gravel trails and breathtaking scenery.
The Kielder Reiver, a popular 87km looped route, takes you along the picturesque shoreline of Northumberland. The route meanders through woodlands, offering a mix of forest roads, tarmac, and singletrack. With its fast-rolling terrain, it’s perfect for honing your gravel riding skills.
Kielder Forest is somewhat isolated, making amenities scarce. However, a campsite and welcoming guest houses can be found within a short drive of the start. Take advantage of the opportunity to immerse yourself in the tranquility of nature as you pedal through this gravel paradise.
Distance: 87km Route: The Kielder Reiver
Great British Gravel Rides: A Collection of Cycling Adventures
If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to gravel riding in the UK, look no further than “Great British Gravel Rides” by Markus Stitz. This book features 26 hand-picked gravel routes across Scotland, England, and Wales, each recommended by a passionate gravel cyclist familiar with the area.
From the stunning landscapes of East Lothian to the untamed beauty of the Cambrian Mountains, these routes showcase the best that the UK has to offer. Each route comes complete with detailed descriptions, interesting local information, and recommendations for the best places to eat, drink, and rest along the way.
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned gravel rider, “Great British Gravel Rides” caters to all experience levels. The book provides valuable insights into gravel riding, including tips on tire selection, bike choice, and even public transport options for accessing the routes.
So, grab a copy of “Great British Gravel Rides” and let it be your companion as you embark on memorable cycling adventures across the UK.
Join the UkGravelbike.club – Connect, Discover, and Ride
Are you looking to meet like-minded gravel enthusiasts, exchange tips and tricks, and discover new routes? Join the UkGravelbike.club (the first UK Gravel Bike community) – a friendly and free community dedicated to all things gravel biking. By becoming a member, you’ll have access to a wealth of knowledge, shared experiences, and a supportive network of fellow cyclists.
To join the UkGravelbike.club, simply visit our facebook groups and sign up:
Connect with gravel riders from all over the UK, share your favorite routes, and stay updated on the latest gravel bike events and gatherings. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to enhance your gravel riding experience and make new friends along the way.
Gravel biking offers a unique and exhilarating way to explore the UK’s diverse landscapes. From the ancient paths of the Ridgeway to the remote trails of Kielder Forest and the curated routes in “Great British Gravel Rides,” there is a gravel adventure waiting for every cyclist.
So, dust off your gravel bike, grab your helmet, and set off on an unforgettable journey through the UK’s best gravel bike routes. Whether you’re seeking a challenging multi-day ride or a leisurely day out in the saddle, the UK’s gravel riding scene has something for everyone. Join the UkGravelbike.club, connect with fellow riders, and embark on an exciting gravel biking adventure today.
Remember, gravel riding is not just about the destination; it’s about the joy of the ride, the camaraderie of fellow cyclists, and the thrill of exploring the unknown. So, get out there, embrace the gravel, and let the adventure begin!
Disclaimer: Always ensure you are adequately prepared for your gravel rides, including carrying essential supplies, wearing appropriate safety gear, and adhering to local laws and regulations.