Family 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.

1 Family bike rides

Harrogate 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.

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Penistone 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.

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3 Family bike rides

York 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!

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Ossett 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!

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5 Family bike rides

Leeds 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.

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6 Family bike rides
The Wykebeck Way

Leeds 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.

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7 Family bike rides
Rochdale Canal

Hebden 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.

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8 Family bike rides

Huddersfield to Dewsbury

This mainly traffic-free route between Huddersfield and Dewsbury town centres surprisingly rural passing through a pleasant wooded and agricultural landscape.

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9 Family bike rides

Hull 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.

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10 Family bike rides
Bradford Red Bridge

Bradford 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.

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11 Family bike rides

Transpennine 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.

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12 Family bike rides

Fallowfield 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.

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Liverpool 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.

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14 Family bike rides

Monsal Trail

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.

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15 Family bike rides
Blackpool North Pier

Longdendale 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.

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16 Family bike rides
Lake Windermere. Credit: Chris Geatch

Windermere 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.

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17 Family bike rides
Nethertown Station. Credit: Gwyn Lishman

Carlisle to Workington (part of longer Cumbrian coastal route)

A great route from Carlisle to Workington, taking you along the stunning Cumbrian coastline.

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18 Family bike rides
Glasson Dock. Credit: Diana Jarvis

Bay Cycleway

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.

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19 Family bike rides
Burgh by sands. Credit: Paul Appleton

Burgh by sands to Solway Firth

Magnificent coastal views, breathtaking countryside: this cycle route has it all!

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20 Family bike rides
Chester Railway Path

Chester 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.

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