The 9 Longest Biking Trails in England

Lone cyclist riding the Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle route through
© StrippedPixel.com/Shutterstock.com

Written by Jennifer Geer

Updated: October 5, 2023

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It’s possible that traveling by bike might be the most ideal way to experience England. The country has a range of landscapes, including rolling hills and valleys, farmlands, sandy beaches, and rocky cliff-lined coasts. Cycling routes take you through busy cities, quiet country roads, and charming villages where a welcoming pub or cafe is always nearby. 

There are an infinite number of cycling routes in England. We’ve gathered some of the longest, which you can tackle all at once or break into smaller sections. Read on for our list of nine of the longest biking trails in England.

1. Route 1: National Cycle Network

Aerial view of the White Cliffs of Dover. Close up view of the cliffs from the sea side. England, East Sussex. Between France and UK

This route begins its journey in Dover, where cyclists can pass by the White Cliffs of Dover.

©RAW-films/Shutterstock.com

Route 1: National Cycle Network
LocationDover (England) to Tain (Scotland)
Length1,264 miles (2,034 kilometers)

Stretching for 1,264 miles along the east coast is England’s longest biking trail. Route 1 from Dover to Tain is part of England’s National Cycle Network, a nationwide network of signed routes and paths for cycling and walking. 

Route 1 covers much of the United Kingdom, taking cyclists from England up to northern Scotland. The route takes you through remote villages, stunning coastlines, and the bustling capitals of London and Edinburgh. Highlights include the Canterbury Cathedral and Lindisfarne Castle on Holy Island in Northumberland, and the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial ground. If you like to travel even further, Route 1 is connected to the EuroVelo 12, which is connected to Norway and Holland.

2. Land’s End to John O’Groats

The Land's End under the sunlight and a blue sky at daytime in western Cornwall in England

The Land’s End to John O’Groats bike trail begins in England’s most southwestern point, located in western Cornwall.

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

Land’s End to John O’Groats
LocationLand’s End (England) to John O’Groats (Scotland)
Length1189 miles (1,913 kilometers)

Running from England’s most southwestern point up to Scotland’s most northern point, the Land’s End to John O’Groats route covers the length of the mainland of the United Kingdom. Also called LEJOG or End to End, the bike trail takes you past the beaches of Cornwall, quaint country roads, ancient castles, Scottish greenery, moorlands, and finally, the remote and wildly beautiful, John O’Groats in northern Scotland.

The route runs on various lengths of the National Cycle Network for about three-quarters of the distance. Further, it’s recommended cyclists use touring bikes, hybrid, or all-terrain bikes for the route.

3. Great North Trail

Landscape image looking over Stainmore near Kirkby Stephen in the North Pennines, Cumbria, England, UK.

The Great North Trail begins in the Pennine Hills, a range of uplands in northern England.

©Colin Ward/Shutterstock.com

Great North Trail
LocationMiddleton Top in Derbyshire to John O’Groats or Cape Wrath (Scotland)
Length825 miles (1,328 kilometers)

This route takes cyclists off-road, and mountain bikes are required. Unlike the first two entries on the list, the Great North Trail covers rugged terrain with steep sections that a touring bike couldn’t handle. The route links Pennine Bridleway to northern Scotland and passes through four National Parks.

While the northern section of the trail covers moorland and rugged terrain for the most experienced riders, there are shorter sections along old railways and canal paths which are more suitable for beginners and families.

4. The Pennine Cycleway

The Picturesque Coastal Town of Berwick upon Tweed in the UK

This route finishes at the beautiful coastal town of Berwick on Tweed.

©CloudVisual/Shutterstock.com

The Pennine Cycleway
LocationDerby to Berwick on Tweed
Length350 miles (563.3 kilometers)

Much of the hilly Pennine Cycleway route is along National Cycle Network 68. The overall route can be broken into three sections: South Pennines, North Pennines, and the Peak District. The majority of the route is on low-traffic roads with some no-traffic paths. The route will take you through the Northumberland National Park and past Hadrian’s Wall.

The route passes through the scenic English countryside, eventually ending up in England’s northernmost town, Berwick on Tweed. The entire route passes through the English counties of Derbyshire, West Yorkshire, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, Cumbria, and Northumberland.

5. The Old Chalk Way

Chalk pathways in the South Downs, with a clear blue sky overhead

The Old Chalk Way can get treacherous when the chalky-lined roads are wet. Mountain or gravel bikes are recommended

©Melanie Hobson/Shutterstock.com

The Old Chalk Way
LocationEnglish Channel at Lyme Regis, Dorset to the North Sea at Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk
Length375 miles (575 kilometers)

This 375-mile backpacking and biking trail takes riders along England’s oldest highway, the Greater Ridgeway. The road is believed to have been used by traders 5,000 years ago. Today, the Old Chalk Way takes riders along white gravel chalk paths, scenic rolling hills, farmlands, villages, and Iron Age hill forts. Be sure to look for the graceful red kites. The raptor is abundant along the path.

Named for the chalk-lined roadways, the route can get challenging to ride on when wet. Therefore, it’s recommended to take a mountain bike or gravel bike.

6. West Country Way

Falcon

Cyclists should keep an eye out for majestic and graceful peregrine falcons as they ride the West Country Way bike trail.

©iStock.com/rancho_runner

West Country Way
LocationBristol to Bude
Length257 miles (414 kilometers)

The West Country Way route is 257 miles of English countryside from Bristol at the River Avon to the seaside town of Bude. The route goes through Somerset and Devon following canal towpaths and railway paths. The route is a mix of remote scenery and charming villages. Much of the bike trail follows National Cycle Route 3. 

Highlights of the path include the Grand Western Canal, Chew Valley Lake, and the Bridgewater and Taunton Canal. It’s also a great birdwatching path, especially as it passes along the Camel Trail and through the Camel Estuary. Some of the birds you may encounter are peregrine falconsmute swans, and the migrating osprey.

7. Rebellion Way

A man wearing a cycle helmet looks at the ruins of Castl Acre Priory in Kings Lynn Norfolk England UK

Riding the Rebellion Way brings you past the ruins of the Castle Acre Priory in Norfolk.

©Jjay69/Shutterstock.com

Rebellion Way
LocationNorfolk
Length232 miles (373 kilometers)

Rebellion Way begins and ends in the town of Norwich. It’s a four to six-day route that travels through the scenic farmlands of Norfolk along bike trails, forest tracks, bridleways, and rustic country roads. This is a route for all abilities and bikes. The route gets its name from two famous rebellions in England. Queen Boudicca led the revolt against the Romans 2,000 years ago.

Along the trail, you will pass by Venta Icenorum, the capital of Boudicca’s Iceni tribe where the remains of the settlement are still located. Later on in the route, the path takes cyclists past Kett’s Heights, known for Kett’s Rebellion. 

8. King Alfred’s Way

Statue of king Alfred the Great in the medieval town of Winchester in Wessex, England.

Take the off-road King Alfred’s Way bike trail where you start and finish near the statue of King Alfred the Great.

©RPBaiao/Shutterstock.com

King Alfred’s Way
LocationWinchester
Length220 miles (350 kilometers)

This off-road bike trail is a circular route that begins at the historic Westgate and finishes under the statue of King Alfred. A route steeped in history, the 220 miles winds its way around historic Wessex, the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of the trail’s namesake, Alfred the Great.

As the route takes riders through England, it passes by highlights such as the Iron Age hill forts at Old Sarum and Barbury Castle and the World Heritage Site at Stonehenge. If you’d like an even greater challenge, the trail connects to the Thames Path, which runs along the Thames River, and the North Downs Way Riders’ Route for a longer trip.

9. Coast and Castles

Elevated View of Bamburgh Castle / Bamburgh Castle viewed from an elevated hillock, on the Northumberland coastline

The Coast and Castles bike trail takes riders past the historical Bamburgh Castle in Northumbria.

©Dave Head/Shutterstock.com

Coast and Castles
LocationNewcastle-upon-Tyne to Edinburgh, Scotland
Length200 miles (321 kilometers)

This popular route is one of the easiest biking trails on the list. It’s also an ideal introduction for those looking to dip their toes into long-distance cycling. The route takes riders past a variety of sights including nature preserves and castles. Highlights include the Bamburgh Castle in Northumbria and the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. This tidal island is only accessible via a paved causeway. During high tides twice every 24 hours, the causeway is completely submerged by the North Sea.

RankBiking TrailLocationLength
1Route 1: National Cycle NetworkFrom Dover, England to Tain, Scotland1,264 miles (2,034 kilometers)
2Land’s End to John O’GroatsFrom Land’s End, England to John O’Groats, Scotland1,189 miles (1,913 kilometers)
3Great North TrailFrom Middleton Top in Derbyshire to John O’Groats or Cape Wrath (Scotland)825 miles (1,328 kilometers)
4The Pennine CyclewayFrom Derby to Berwick on Tweed350 miles (563.3 km)
5The Old Chalk WayFrom the English Channel at Lyme Regis, Dorset to the North Sea at Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk375 miles (575 kilometers)
6West Country WayFrom Bristol to Bude257 miles (414 kilometers)
7Rebellion WayThe circular route begins and ends in Winchester232 miles (373 kilometers)
8King Alfred’s WayCircular route begins and ends in Winchester220 miles (350 kilometers)
9Coast and CastlesFrom Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Edinburgh, Scotland200 miles (321 kilometers)


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About the Author

Jennifer Geer is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on animals, news topics, travel, and weather. Jennifer holds a Master's Degree from the University of Tulsa, and she has been researching and writing about news topics and animals for over four years. A resident of Illinois, Jennifer enjoys hiking, gardening, and caring for her three pugs.

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