Cycling is a great activity that the whole family can enjoy. It’s fun, free, and good exercise. Plus it allows you to spend quality time together while taking in the beautiful sites, sounds, and smells of the great outdoors. If you’re taking the kids out for the day, you’ll want to go to places with family-friendly cycle routes and paths. Somewhere that’s easy, with relatively flat terrain. That’s at least until they become more experienced. Here are some ideas to get started:
- Parks: There are some fantastic green spaces in towns and cities across the UK. It’s a safe option, away from traffic. You’ll have to check your local park to see if you can cycle there as not all parks allow it, but many have cycling-specific sections and paths. London’s Hyde Park is set over 350-acres. It’s not only one of the city’s most beautiful parks, but it’s also deemed to be the most cycle-friendly park in all of central London. It’s the perfect place for families with very young children, offering the chance to make the most of a huge green space and spot some famous landmarks.
- National Trust: This famous charity and membership organisation manages over 500 historic houses, castles, ancient monuments, gardens, parks, and nature reserves across the UK. Many of the sites are cycle-friendly, and there are quite often special half-term activities for the kids too, so it’s worth checking what’s on in advance.The Dudmaston Estate in Shropshire has a two mile woodland trail which is perfect for a family bike ride. Explore the area at your own pace and spot ancient trees and the White Admiral Butterfly. It’s a great place for a family picnic.
- Disused Railways: Great for exploring an area’s industrial history, these once busy tracks are now the perfect routes to cycle with your family, The railways were engineered to be as flat as possible, so you’re guaranteed a nice gentle ride on an even surface. Discover Manchester’s traffic-free Cycleway, also known as The Fallowfield Loop Line. This 16 mile route starts and finishes at the National Cycling Centre, home of Team GB. The route is flat and well surfaced, and only deviates onto the road for a short 200 metre stretch. Chorlton Park at the midway point of the route is an ideal stopping point for lunch.
- Canals & Rivers: Before railways came along, canals were a thriving transport network. There are miles and miles of flat canal and river routes to enjoy by bike. The Canal and Railway Ride in Leicester, is a 15 mile route which goes along the Grand Union Canal, heading out of the city, before following the traffic-free former railway path back into Leicester. And there are plenty of stopping points along the route for that well earned cuppa.
How can I keep the kids entertained while cycling?
Aside from the adventure of going out on your bikes and taking in the wonderful views the British Isles has to offer, there are a few other ways you can keep the little ones going for longer.
Consider letting the youngest lead the way. Knowing the right pace to go at can be tricky when cycling with young children. It’s wise to have an adult at the front and the back of your group, but allow the littlest legs to do some pace-setting to keep them motivated and make them feel like they’re taking the lead. You can also have a little race along a nice straight section of path to add a competitive element to your ride (and maybe an ice cream at the end of your ride). And why not play the classic game of ‘I spy’? It’s a good way to encourage everyone to stay together while taking in the surroundings. You can even collect interesting items along your route, like pine cones and pretty leaves.