Get fit with all the family in the open air this summer – on one of these beautiful cycle routes in the South West!
At VavistaLife, we are huge fans of fitness for fun – so rather than slogging away on a static bike in the gym watching the news update, we’d much rather find a local trail, load up the bikes and kids and head off for a day’s adventure. Working up an appetite for a leisurely pub lunch or packing an al fresco picnic to enjoy en route. Studies have shown that by leading by example and being active as a family has a huge impact on your children’s future activity levels – plus, on a selfish note, an hour’s cycling burns anything up to 600kcals*, depending on your speed, weight and the gradient you tackle – so you could be increasing your fitness, boosting your mood and burning energy – all whilst enjoying some summer sunshine with the family. Here are our favourite routes in the South West:
1. Exe Trail – Exmouth to Exeter
The great thing about this waterfront cycle route is that you can make it as long, or short as you want. Start at the Estuary’s mouth in Exmouth and follow the dedicated trail along the water’s edge through pretty Devon villages such as Exton and Lympstone, both with excellent pubs if sustenance is needed. Reach the town of Topsham and there are even more foodie delights on offer, including Darts Farm, dubbed the ‘Selfridges Food Hall of the South West’. Or if you’re in it for the day, get to the historic quay at Exeter and you’ll have completed the full circuit. With some gradients this is one for a fitter family, but with so much to see you’ll barely notice the hills – plus, the route follows the train line and with stations in each village, you can always hop on when little legs get tired.
2. Tarka Trail – North Devon
The Tarka Trail runs 32-miles from Braunton to Meeth in North Devon using the old railway lines that cut through this largely unspoilt countryside as it was described by Henry Williamson in his classic novel ‘Tarka the Otter’ first published in 1927. The route can easily be segmented into shorter rides, with 21 information boards along the route to inspire young minds with historic and wildlife facts. The sandy beaches at Croyde and Saunton are also great destinations for families.
3. Camel Trail – Cornwall
If you’re heading to Cornwall this summer, don’t forget to pack the bikes – or hire them at the start of the Camel Trail from Padstow to Wenfordbridge. Running 18 (mainly traffic-free) miles through the glorious Cornish countryside, this multi-use trail is all geared up for two-wheels and renowned for its family-friendly gradients (there are great bird-watching opportunities, too). End up in Padstow and reward yourself with an ice cream on the beautiful quay, or with some retail therapy in the fishing village’s many boutiques.
This 13-mile off road route is a great, fun urban trip for older children and a new way to experience the two cities in one-day. Carrying one-million trips a year over this old railway route, it is a favourite with fit commuters and those wishing to take in the scenic landscape and attractions en route – including artworks, sculptures a historic Brass Mill and Steam Railway Station.
5. Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Easily accessed from the M4/M5 corridor, the acres of established woodland make this a fairytale forest, perfect for a family ride. The 11-mile circular family route follows purpose-built paths and disused railway lines and is littered with picnic sites for a leisurely adventure. The Sallowvallets area, designated by the Forestry Commission for mountain biking is perfect for those looking for more high-octane adventure, offering moderate to severe routes, including the red-graded Freeminer trail.