The Best Cycling Routes in The National Forest, UK

The National Forest was created 20 years ago with the goal of transforming one of the country’s least wooded regions. The trees haven’t quite taken over yet, but the 200 square miles of rolling farmland and heritage industrial sites provide excellent cycling on mostly quiet roads. All routes start at the forest’s cycling centre at Hicks Lodge. Illustration: Tonwen Jones

illustrated map cycle routes national forest

Cycling Route Through The Charnwood Hills

Forest Bumps  64 miles  Branching out into the Charnwood Hills

This route ventures out of the forest to take in the ancient rocky landscape of Charnwood. The descent of Beacon Hill sets the scene before some tough climbs and lovely views. The route back is less demanding, but scenic, with odd named villages to keep spirits up. Barton in the Beans anyone?

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Get the route tinyurl.com/c-plus-charnwood

Cycling route past Calke Abbey

Branch Lines 48 miles Industrial heritage and country estates

This ride takes in long sections of traffic-free routes based on old railway lines. Tracks are well surfaced and signposted with the odd muddy section in woodland where a cyclo-cross bike may be most suitable. The ride through the National Trust’s Calke Abbey is particularly beautiful.

Get the route tinyurl.com/c-plus-calke

Cycling Route towards River Trent

Rowan Boats  31 miles  Steeplechasing across the flood plains of the Trent

This route descends slowly to the banks of the River Trent passing through pretty villages. Church steeples mark off progress as they appear over the horizon of the rolling countryside. Combine with Route One at Measham to make a varied and more challenging ride.

Get the route tinyurl.com/c-plus-trent


LOCAL KNOWLEDGE

Have breakfast – Hicks Lodge Café

This eco-friendly café at the National Forest Cycle Centre will rustle up a bacon sandwich to set you up. There’s great coffee and cakes on offer too. 

Where Willesley Woodside, LE65 2UP

Stop for cakes – Calke Abbey

The ride through Calke Abbey would be worth the entry fee even if cyclists didn’t get in for free! An excellent courtyard café provides a great selection of cakes.

Where Ticknall, DE73 7LE

Get spare tubes – Just Bikes

An independent bike retailer located on the Green in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, offering a range of bicycles and accessories for riders of any level.

Where 8 The Green, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, LE65 1JU

Fancy a pint? – The New Inn, Peggs Green

Run by the same family since 1978, this traditional pub has a lovely garden and a good selection of beers to sample post ride.

Where Clay Lane, LE67 8JE

Leave the family here – Conkers

120 acres of maturing woodlands, lakes, ponds and play areas and an 18-stage assault course challenge.  A high ropes course opened in July.

Where Rawdon Road, Moira

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