England's best cycling roads

Boasting over 5000 miles over dedicated signed cycle paths alone, some might argue that England is a two-wheeled nation. From glorious off-road adventures through the woods of Hampshire's New Forest to meandering through the gentle flats of Norfolk's Fens, there really is a cycle path for everyone - with barely a car in sight.

With a few basic resources to hand, such as food, water, high-visibility clothing and a knowledge of where one's going, there's an entire network of roads out there which just might be a cyclist's personal paradise.

Yorkshire Lake District

England's largest National Park would appear to be one of the most diverse, exciting and challenging places for a cyclist to visit on paper - and thankfully, it absolutely is.

Occupying a vast area of around 885 square miles, the North Western Lakes offer a number of country lanes, bridleways and permitted cycle routes that should cater for persons of all ability.

A family friendly cycle along the Windermere shore, through the forest of Claife for example, could take as little as just two hours for a five mile ride. The Grizedale Forest Getaway meanwhile, will provide more of a challenge for experienced riders, clocking in at around three hours for a seven mile jaunt.

For those who fancy a real test of might, then a route between the Irish Sea to the North Sea could prove just the challenge.

The C2C, standing for "Sea to Sea", is one of England's toughest and most popular biking routes. Starting off the Cumbrian coast, cyclists will traverse the Pennines (the "roof of England") before descending to the railway paths of County Durham, finishing up in Newcastle or Sunderland.

The Fens

Inhabiting parts of Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, The Fens are a less threatening environment for cyclists.

This area of marshland offers a myriad of easy-going flat routes that contain no hilly surprises when compared to its North Western counterparts. These characteristics make The Fens an ideal location for cyclists of any age, or ability, to get out on their bikes and explore the quaintness of the "Holy Land of the English".

The region is so-called because of its abundance of churches in Ely, Ramsey, Crowland, Thorney and Peterborough, making it the perfect destination for those who admire England's most beautiful religious buildings.

For a medium-difficulty route, cyclists might like to indulge in a back-round route beginning at Swavesey village, north west of Cambridge, heading north to Sutton before negotiating south onto the B1049, running parallel to the A10.

New Forest

Spanning the breadth of Hampshire in central southern England, the National Park of the New Forest is a haven for cyclists who revel in the beauty of nature as they ride.

Swathes of purple heather adorn the rich heathlands, occupying the same space as the park's famous New Forest Ponies on cycle routes which vary from three to 21 miles.

In addition, cyclists who jump on one of the forest's 100 miles (160Km) of approved cycle routes may catch an array of ancient features from the past, including old railway lines, as they pass from village to village.

Dozens of approved on-road cycle routes exist between Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst and the historic village of Beaulieu, backed up by B-roads meaning that access between all three is effortless.

South Downs

Stretching an epic 100 miles between Winchester and Eastbourne, the South Downs makes for another one of England's great rides.

While mountain bikers might get their rush from plummeting down numerous steep scarp faces that litter the car-free ride, others are free to peddle along at their own place, enjoying the views as they go.

Fat tyres are recommended for most parts of this legendary route regardless, as most paths run on farmers roads. Maps are highly recommended for this trip also, as bridleways and byways scatter various different routes - the only permitted tracks for cyclists.

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