Spring is the ideal time for exploring the English countryside on two wheels, and whether you are planning a touring holiday or a stay in a self-catering cottage, a bike gives you the chance to go off-road and enjoy all that the season has to offer. With the growing enthusiasm for cycling as a sport and leisure activity, there are new bike trails opening around the country all the time, giving enthusiasts lots of choice of where to base their holiday break.

Going Cuckoo

The closing of many small branch railway lines in the 1960s has not been all bad news – some of England’s best cycle trails have been created on the basis of these redundant rail lines. One of the earliest was the Cuckoo Trail in East Sussex which runs from Polegate, close to Eastbourne on the south coast, to Heathfield in the Sussex Weald. The 14 mile trail runs through a variety of countryside, including woodland which in the spring is carpeted with bluebells, to pasture and open farmland. The Trail takes its name from an old Sussex custom of releasing a cuckoo at the annual Heathfield Fair, and cuckoos can still be heard along the route of the path in the spring.

 bikeengland-5071617The Cuckoo Trail courtesy of Gregory Williams

Riding the Camel

The 18 mile Camel Trail in Cornwall provides some wonderful views of the county’s most varied and dramatic scenery, from the starting point at Padstow on the beautiful estuary of the River Camel (visitors might enjoy a meal at one of Rick Stein’s fish restaurants in the town before setting off) to Wenfordbridge on Bodmin Moor. Along the way the Trail passes historic houses, vineyards and sites of special scientific interest. The Camel Trail is just one of the numerous cycle paths that meander their way through the rightly famous countryside of Cornwall and Devon, some through remote countryside, some closer to a town or city. There’s a vivid description of the trail that takes in the dramatic landscapes of Dartmoor and runs close to Exeter on this blog.

bikeengland_1-1938573The Camel Trail courtesy of Barry

Fun for the Family

While the long-distance cycle trail that follows the entire route of Hadrian’s Wall is certainly not for the faint-hearted, there are short sections of the trail that make for an ideal family day out. Burgh Bay Sands to Solway Coast offers the bonus of sandy beaches, stunning saltmarshes and farmland views, and a beautiful coastline. Even better, there’s a great place to stop for lunch or refreshment along the way – the Greyhound Inn is well-known for the quality of its traditional British fare.

bikeengland_2-3356574Hadrian’s Wall courtesy of Alex