Family friendly bike rides on traffic-free paths or quiet roads are a great way to get outdoors with your children, visit new places and enjoy a guilt-free coffee and cake.
The walking and cycling charity Sustrans is 40 years old this year and created the National Cycle Network, which provides thousands of miles of cycle routes on old railway lines, canal towpaths and quieter or segregated roads.
Just before the school summer holidays start the Sustrans’ team in the North has selected their favourite bike rides in the North for leisurely family bike rides. You don’t need to be sporty, just put on some casual clothes, take a waterproof, and pack a picnic in your bike basket.
1Harrogate to Ripley
This route connects Bilton, North Harrogate, and Knaresborough with Ripley on a fantastic 4 mile converted railway line. There are currrently unsigned on-road connections between Ripley and the Way of the Roses cycle route to the North and the stunning Yorkshire Dales to the west.
2Penistone to Dunford Bridge
This beautiful, traffic-free ride takes you from the busy market town of Penistone to the rolling moors of the Peak District at Dunford Bridge. Fully surfaced, and so ideal for children, the path follows the route of the old Great Central Railway, winding through glorious countryside, with stunning views across the valley, and a wealth of wild flowers.
3York to Naburn
This stunning ride is perfect for families and those new to cycling. The route takes you south from the ancient walled city of York along the River Ouse and down a traffic-free converted railway path, passing historic parks, sculptures, bridges and the solar system!
4Ossett to Oakenshaw
This popular greenway ride begins at Dewsbury and heads into lovely countryside along the splendid Calder and Spen Valley Greenway, Spen Valley Greenway won a European Greenway Award in 2007 for its success in encouraging people to take up cycling!
5Leeds to Saltaire
This popular and attractive ride begins in vibrant Leeds and winds its way out of the city along the traffic-free towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The route is full of historic interest and some surprisingly scenic countryside.
6Leeds Roundhey Park to Temple Newsam
The Wykebeck Way is a well signed route that uses quiet roads, cycle tracks and parkland paths through the Wyke Beck Valley.
7Hebden Bridge to Brighouse
This scenic ride takes you from the bustling town of Hebden Bridge along National Route 66 on a mainly traffic-free waterside path following the towpaths of the Rochdale Canal and the Calder and Hebble Navigation, and along quiet country lanes, to the market town of Brighouse. It’s easy to extend the route for those wanting a longer ride.
8Huddersfield to Dewsbury
This mainly traffic-free route between Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centres surprisingly rural passing through a pleasant wooded and agricultural landscape.
9Hull to Hornsea
This is a wonderful route that takes you from the bustling city of Kingston upon Hull, across beautiful agricultural landscapes, to the seaside resort of Hornsea.
10Bradford City Park to Bowling Park
This great route takes you between two of Bradford’s best open spaces – City Park and Bowling Park, travelling over the iconic Red Bridge on the way.
11Transpennine Trail (lots of traffic-free sections for families)
The Trans Pennine Trail (TPT) is an exciting route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders linking the North and Irish seas, passing through the Pennines, alongside rivers and canals and through some of the most historic towns and cities in the North of England.
12Fallowfield Loop (Manchester)
This urban route takes you from Chorlton-cum-Hardy to Debdale. Along the way it passes close by to three parks, which make great stopping off points. In particular, 130-acre Debdale Park, near the end of the ride, features off-road cycle trails around Gorton’s reservoirs for those wanting a challenge.
13Liverpool Loop (Liverpool)
The Loop Line is a popular traffic free, wildlife route running from Halewood to Aintree and on to Southport on the Cheshire lines path. This fabulous walking and cycling route follows the old railway line.
The Monsal Trail is a stunning traffic free cycle route right in the heart of the Peak District National Park, starting just north of Bakewell.
15Longdendale Trail (Hadfield to Woodhead)
National Route 62 connects Fleetwood on the Fylde region of Lancashire with Selby in North Yorkshire. It forms the west and central sections of The Trans Pennine Trail which is a long-distance path running from coast to coast across northern England.
16Windermere to Kendal
A great cycle ride which travels between Lake Windermere and Kendal – a must for anyone visiting the North West. You can also extend the route all the way to the seaside resort of Grange-over-Sands.
17Whitehaven to Workington (part of longer Cumbrian coastal route)
A great route from Carlisle to Workington, taking you along the stunning Cumbrian coastline.
A stunning long distance route that takes you on a tour of Morecambe Bay, one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the UK. Taking you from the south west coast of Cumbria to Glasson Dock in Lancashire, this route is a feast for the senses.
19Burgh by sands to Solway Firth
Magnificent coastal views, breathtaking countryside: this cycle route has it all!
20Chester Railway Path
This route connects the historic city of Chester to the Wharf at Connah’s Quay. The path takes you along an old railway line and is an attractive open ride from the north side of Chester out into the Wirral’s rich arable farmlands.