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.
Glen Sligachan, Isle of Skye
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
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
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
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
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.