Hot-weather rides

There’s nothing better than taking a break from a hot dusty trail to immerse yourself in cool, clear water. Here are a few of our favourite routes.

>>> The 100 best mountain bike routes in the UK

Glen Sligachan, Isle of Skye

17km/10 miles
Ride time: 2 hours (one way)
Why ride it? Awesome scenery, some fun singletrack and some great swimming spots
Where to eat? Sligachan Hotel

Sligachan is a classic, though it can be frustrating as it definitely doesn’t make a great circular ride. It also has a good few swimming opportunities including the sea at Camasunary and two wonderful secluded lochs. If you can shuttle transport, start at the trailhead above Kilmarie (Landranger 32 /NG544172), clamber NW over the hillside and drop to the beach. Then simply follow the glen path N to the Sligachan Hotel. If you’re not shuttling, start at the hotel and lunch on the beach – the hop over to Kilmarie is then optional.

Elan Valley, Mid Wales

25km/13 miles
Ride time: 3-4 hours
Why ride it? Mid Wales classic and a very cold swim
Where to eat? Triangle Inn, Rhayader

A swimming spot with a difference – possibly the coldest water you’ll ever swim in! Well worth a detour on a hot day though. E from Rhayader (Landranger 147/SN966677), leave the B4518 to climb on tarmac then a track to Y Clog Fawr. Drop to the reservoir and then head N to Craig Goch dam, where you then head W over Esgair Perfedd. Continue N onto Penrhiw-wen and drop SW to Rhayader. Continue S on a lane that leads you to the confluence of the River Wye and the dam released Afon Elan. Cross the bridge for the best swim spot.

Greater Langdale, Lake District

25km/16 Miles
Ride time? 3 hours
Why ride it? Fun Lakeland trails and a good swimming spot.
Where to eat? Skelwith Bridge Inn

There has to a swimming spot or two in the Lakes doesn’t there? This is one of our favourite, but there are gazillions. From Ambleside (Landranger 90/NY370045), climb and drop W over Loughrigg Fell. Drop to Selwith Bridge and take lanes S to Knipe Fold. Climb NW to Iron Keld then drop N to the A593. Head W on BWs through Stang End to Little Langdale and cross the bridge (early dip?). Take the trail NE to NY321041 then N to Chapel Stile. Take lanes W to NY340056 and take Loughrigg Terrace home, passing an inviting beach on the shores of Rydal Water.

Studland and the Purbecks, Dorset

21km/12 miles
Ride time? 3 hours
Why ride it? Classic coastline trail and a top-notch sandy beach.
Where to eat? Studland Pub

A ferry ride and a swim on this one! Take the Sandbanks Ferry (Landranger 195/SZ037870)
across the water and follow the road SW and SE to a BW on the R. Take this to Greenlands Farm and follow a sandy BW S across the golf course to the club house on Dean Hill. Turn L then first R and drop to a BW on your L. Climb E over Ballard Down, around Old Harry and back to Studland. Now follow BW’s N to rejoin the outward route to the ferry and a very inviting sandy beach.

Three Shire’s Head, Peak District

23km/14 miles
Ride time: 31/2 hours
Why ride it? Fun riding and a cool swimming spot.
Where to eat? The Cat & Fiddle

A fun Peak loop that visits one of the area’s best plunge pools. From Wildboarclough (Landranger 118/SJ978714) continue up the valley and then climb W to into Macclesfield Forest. Loop W around the wood (permissive cyclepath) and bear R then L at the road. Turn R at the T then climb NE up to another lane. Turn R then drop SE then E to Bottom-of-the-oven. Take tarmac E to the Cat & Fiddle then track S over Danebarrow Hollow to the A54. Loop S to Three Shires Head, have a splash, then continue around Cut Thorn Hill. Take the A54 NE for 1km, then drop NW then W to finish.