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Two Welsh trails among the ‘best cycle routes in the UK and Ireland’

09 May 2024 4 minute read
Taff Trail. Image: Sustrans

Some of the UK and Ireland’s most passionate cyclists have selected their favourite cycle routes – with two Welsh locations making the coveted top ten.

The ranking ranges from tranquil paths ideal for beginners to demanding trails for experienced cyclists, encompassing the idyllic wildflower meadows of the Cotswolds, the dramatic chalk cliffs along the Kent coast and the iconic Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.

There are now thousands of miles of dedicated cycle paths crisscrossing the length and breadth of Wales, including car-free tracks, quiet country lanes and former railway lines – the perfect excuse to enjoy the best of the spring weather.


The travel experts at Enjoy Travel rounded up 20 of the best cycle routes in the UK and Ireland based on feedback from social media users and editorial opinion.

Each of these routes offers something unique, whether it’s breathtaking vistas that stretch for miles or challenging climbs guaranteed to test your limits.

The full top twenty includes routes suitable for beginners, families, and advanced cyclists to make sure no one feels left out.

Welsh locations

Two Welsh locations made it into the top ten – with the experts impressed by the wealth of breathtaking scenery right on our doorstep.

The lowest ranking Welsh entrant, at number 9, is the ever-popular Taff Trail.

Talybont-on-Usk. Image via Google

The travel experts said: “Kicking off in Cardiff, this 55-mile route meanders out of the capital and along Cardiff Bay, disused railway ways and crashing weirs before finishing up in the heart of the Bannau Brycheiniog National Park.

“Along the way, there are plenty of picturesque stops to enjoy the views or refuel with a picnic.

“For an even longer break, there’s the fascinating museum in Pontypridd, the magnificent Cyfarthfa Castle and the picture-perfect village of Talybont-on-Usk.”

Cyfarthfa Castle. Picture From Anthony Lewis

“If you don’t think you can manage the full course, cycle from Brecon Canal Basin along the well-surfaced towpath of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.

“The route is made up of old railway paths, forest paths and canals.

“Picture perfect”

The highest Welsh entry on the list is the Elan Valley Trail at an impressive number 3.

Craig Goch Reservoir Dam, Elan Valley. Picture by Adrian Farwell. (CC BY 3.0)

The experts said: “Wales isn’t exactly short on picture-perfect views, but they’re hardly a secret. The Elan Valley is an exception.

“Nestled in the heart of mountainous mid Wales, this linear trail climbs past three reservoirs, over the Rhayader Tunnel Nature Reserve and through fairytale woodlands.

“It follows the line of the old Birmingham Corporation Railway, built at the end of the nineteenth century to help construct the Elan Valley reservoirs, a string of four narrow lakes used to supply water to Birmingham.

Craig Goch Dam – by Chris Downer and usable under Creative Commons Licence.

“The route begins in Cwmdeuddwr and climbs 165 ft past Caban Coch and Garreg Ddu Reservoirs, boasting spectacular views from the Craig Goch Dam.

“If that hasn’t worn you out, there are several mountain biking routes to choose from at the end of the route, including the Ant Hills and Elan Epic.”

The Top Ten

  • North York Moors Cycleway, Yorkshire
  • Giant’s Causeway to Benone Cycle Route, Northern Ireland
  • Elan Valley Trail, Wales
  • The Caledonia Way, Scotland
  • Isle of Wight Round the Island, Isle of Wight
  • South Downs Way, Sussex
  • The Northumberland Coastal Route, Northumberland
  • The Borrowdale Bash, Cumbria
  • The Taff Trail, Wales
  • Yorkshire Dales Loop, Yorkshire

View the full top 20 and find out more here.

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