With 31,368km of coastline, and great riding along the way, there’s no need to travel abroad to get your seaside fix; here are five routes that skirt the Great British briny.
1. Harris, Outer Hebrides, 23.7km (15 miles)
To get to this ride you’re going to have to take a ferry across the sea from Skye, so unless you happen to live in the West Highlands, this route will need some planning. The Western Isles are beautiful and remote, so as a ride to get away from it all, it can’t be beat. That remoteness combined with the topography and weather mean you need sharp navigation skills and the ability to look after yourself in inhospitable conditions, though. Harris and Lewis aren’t that huge so are well worth some time exploring before you hop back on the ferry.
2. The Lizard, Cornwall, 18.9km (11.8 miles)
Home of England’s most westerly point, where the land stops and the sea begins, Cornwall is suspiciously devoid of bridleways. What it’s not short on is ruggedly beautiful coastline and this ride gives you a small sample of what’s on offer. With smuggler’s coves and sandy bays come a series of steep ups and downs – riding at just above sea level is not as easy as it sounds – but it makes for some dramatic scenery.
3. Lynton, Exmoor, 24.8km (15.4 miles)
Exmoor is England in miniature – a mix of landscapes from craggy shoreline to sweeping moorland and everything in between. With so much variety packed into such a small area, it almost goes without saying how great the riding is, taking in steep-sided valleys, open hillsides – complete with wild ponies – and offering views across the Bristol Channel. Fish and chips in Lynton is a must, although you might regret it on the climb out of town.
4. Studland, Dorset, 21.2km (13.2 miles)
Poole Harbour and the Purbecks are the picture-postcard definition of English summer holidays – white cliffs, blue sea, yellow sand and red sunburn. This mellow route crosses wetland, heathland and keeps the English Channel in view for the majority of the ride so you can drink in the drink. The clifftop section above The Pinnacles – spires of chalk jutting out of the sea – is especially impressive. At 21km it’s long enough that you can consider the ice cream at the end well earned.
5. Coast To Coast MBR Special, 277.3km (172.3 miles)
Starting at the Irish Sea in the west and finishing at the North Sea to the east, the C2C (sea to sea, geddit?) spans northern England and is probably one of the UK’s most popular long-distance rides. This spin on the classic uses some of the same roads and cycle tracks as the official route but throws in some more mountain bike-focused bits for good measure. Do it in a oner (if you dare) or break it up over a few days, or even ride it east to west – think of this as more of a rough guide to build your own adventure around.