The days are long, so why not fill them with an epic mountain bike adventure? These long distance routes are ideal for a big day (or several days) of riding, and will take you to some absolutely stunning places in the UK
Summer has landed, so it’s time to crack out the chamois cream, stick an extra jam sandwich in the backpack and head out on a proper long ride. Here are five that will really stretch your legs… just don’t forget the sunscreen
- Distance: 338.8km (210.5 miles)
- Location: Scotland, UK
- GPS download: bit.ly/BadgerDivide
Starting in Inverness and finishing in Glasgow some 339km later, the intriguingly named Badger Divide is a proper adventure in the big country. Passing through some of Scotland’s most beautiful areas you can expect bens, glens, lochs and more wildlife than you can shake a bar bag at. Luggage is something you’ll want to carry on this ride; shops and other conveniences are few and far between and being self-sufficient is a very good idea. The fastest known time for the Badger is an almost unbelievable 24 hours but you’re much better putting aside a minimum of three days to actually enjoy the ride.
- Distance: 192.4km (119.6 miles)
- Location: Northumberland, UK
- GPS download: bit.ly/SandstoneWay
The Sandstone Way is a 193km route that links the Northumbrian towns of Hexham and Berwick-upon-Tweed. As the name hints at, this ride follows a ridge of sandstone that spans the county with red rocks, crags and escarpments along the way. Northumberland is the least populated county in England so if you’re after peace, quiet and great chips (Northumberland has a proud potato growing tradition) then this is the ride for you. The route is designed to work in either direction but north to south is the most popular choice.
- Distance: 206.2km (128.1 miles)
- Location: Lake District, UK
- GPS download: bit.ly/Lakeland200Ride
Fancy a quick spin around the Lake District? Then this route isn’t for you. 200km (well, 206 actually) over England’s highest terrain means this is a properly challenging ride. While some long distance rides are relatively easy going and best done on a bike built for munching miles, the Lakeland 200 has enough technical trails along its length to make a full suspension trail bike the best option. The official route starts in Kendal, but being circular you can choose where you start and end your own Lakeland round.
GPS download: bit.ly/Lakeland200Ride
Trans Cambrian Way
- Distance: 166.3km (103.3 miles)
- Location: Mid-Wales
- GPS download: bit.ly/TransCambrian
If you’ve not yet explored mid-Wales then you’re missing out. And if you’re wondering where to start then the Trans Cambrian Way is the perfect way of filling in any gaps in your knowledge. Cutting across the middle of Wales this 166km route starts in Knighton on the English border before taking you across the Cambrian Mountains, finishing on the west coast just south of Machynlleth. Along the way you’ll pass some well known riding areas, like the Elan Valley, and others that are seldom ridden – mid-Wales is full of not much and all the better for it.
King Alfred’s Way
- Distance: (218.5 miles)
- Location: South UK
- GPS download: bit.ly/KingAlfreds
The ancient kingdom of Wessex at one point spanned much of southern Britain. Its most famous ruler was King Alfred and this 352 km circular route takes you through the heart of his domain. Starting and finishing in Winchester, where Alfred is buried, this monster route takes you up, over and around the South Downs, Wiltshire Downs and North Wessex Downs. The pleasant rolling countryside may lull you into thinking this is a ride whose challenge lies in its length, but don’t underestimate how much climbing there is along the way. History buffs will find plenty to keep them interested with hill forts, stone circles, castles and cathedrals aplenty.
Looking for the best bike for your next adventure? Our guide to the best hardtail mountain bike is probably a great place to start, as they’re ideal for longer distances. Or if you want a bit more comfort, a shorter travel bike like the best cross-country mountain bikes are also a great bet.