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12 amazing Tour of Britain rides

Josh Cunningham
9 Sep 2016

Twelve breathtaking cycling routes, inspired by the 2016 Tour of Britain.

1. Galloway

The Route 

Stage 1 of this year’s Tour of Britain runs from Glasgow to Castle Douglas. Our route explores the country between the two. Starting in Cumnock it heads west on the B7046 via climbs at Skares, Kerse and Dalmellington, onto Carsphain, then via the B729 to Thornhill and the A76 back to the start. 

What makes it so good?

The roads around the Galloway Forest Park are fabulous . While Scotland’s famed for its scenery, most folk skip the south and head straight to the highlands – Dumfries and Galloway is an undiscovered gem!

Hardest part?

The climb between Dalmellington and Eriff on the A713. It may only be low in gradient, but at over three miles it’s a beast.

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2. Lake District

The Route

Our route starts in Bowness on Windermere, retracing the ToB stage 2 route along the A592 over Kirkstone Pass to Ullswater. It then takes the A5091 and A66 to Keswick where you follow the B5292 over Whinlatter Pass, then south on the B5289 over Honister Pass back to Keswick. It then heads south over Chestnut Hill (A591) to Ambleside, up ‘The Struggle’ before dropping back into Bowness. 

What makes it so good?

As always with cycling, it’s what makes it so hard that makes it so good. This route is peppered with leg-busting climbs, and you’ll get to enjoy some of the finest vistas the UK has to offer from the saddle as you tackle them.

Hardest part?

‘The Struggle’ – at three miles long, an average 8.2% gradient, and coming in the last 20km of the ride, it should live up to its name. Resist the urge to skip it when you realise there’s a detour along Lake Windermere – it’s worth the effort.

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3. Peak District

The Route

Stage three of the ToB stays mostly in Cheshire but our route starts further east in Buxton. Trace the River Wye to Monsal Head and the stunning viaduct, then head through the lanes via Great Longstone and Curbar to the Dales and Stannage Edge. Descend into Hathersage, then follow the road through Castleton and Chapel-en-le-Frith to take on first the Brickworks climb and then the Cat and Fiddle – the hardest climb on the ToB route.

What makes it so good?

Apart from one of the country’s longest climbs, the 10km-long Cat and Fiddle, the route also offers a mix of quintessentially British scenery, from the lush green valleys at Monsal Head to the windswept Dales. 

Hardest part?

It may have an average gradient of just 3% but the Cat and Fiddle is one of the longest uphill tests in the UK, and comes at the end of the ride before re-entering Buxton.

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4. Wales

The Route

Starting in Corwen, this beauty heads south on the B4401, over the ToB stage 4 KOM at Bwlch-y-Safn, then right at Pen-y-Bont on the B4396 and over the KOM at Dyfnant. It then turns right to Dolgellau on the A470, then Bala Lake on the A484 and back to Corwen. 

What makes it so good? 

While many head further west, much of the best cycling in Wales is right here. There’s rarely a flat bit of road, and this ride totals over 2,200m of climbing, with some wild views. Cycling hero Sean Kelly’s made a virtual reality experience using some of this route that you can try! Read more about that here: Sean Kelly's virtual reality ride

Hardest part?

The Bwlch-y-Safn climb is 3.5 miles at almost 5% gradient. Luckily, it’s one of the first climbs of the day, but the effort will stay in your legs all the way back to Corwen.

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5. Severn Estuary

What makes it so good? 

Incorporating the Cotswolds, Wye River and the Forest of Dean, this route traces some of the most scenic roads in the Tour of Britain this year. Making use of the little-known cycleable bridge by the M48, you can do a loop, too, rather than an out-and-back

Hardest part?

The Selsey Common climb – 1.2 miles at 7.7% it’s lung and leg busting!

The Route 

Starting in Gloucester, this one heads south to Stroud (A4173), then over the KOM of Selsey Common and onto Dursley and Wotton Under Edge through the southern tip of the Cotswolds. Do what the Tour of Britain can’t and use the cycle path across the Severn Bridge to Chepstow, then follow the Wye Valley to Llandogo before turning right across the Wye to Coleford. Tackle the KOMs at Stowe Green and Speech House on the way back to Gloucester.

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6. Dartmoor

The Route 

Picking up the ToB stage 6 route in Ide on the outskirts of Exeter, this one heads over the KOM at Dunchideock, before dropping down into Chudleigh and Bovey Tracey. Once you get over the fact that these place names are real, you’ll have Haytor to contend with – the ToB’s only summit finish, and a 6km effort. Descend into Ashburton and then turn right to trace the River Dart to Two Bridges before following the B3212 all the way back to Ide.

What makes it so good?

The expanses of Dartmoor provide scenery that few are able to enjoy on a regular basis. The barren grassland and exposed rocky outcrops can transform your ride into an epic simply because of the way they look. 

Hardest part?

The Tour of Britain stage that this route is inspired by finishes on Haytor – and with good reason. It’s a 6km climb that’s exposed at the top and will not look too kindly upon weary legs.

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7. Bristol and the Mendips

The Route 

The ToB’s Stage 7 is a time trial  and circuit race around Bristol, which includes the Bristol Downs and Clifton Suspension Bridge. Ours follows a loop of the 15.3km circuit, before heading south via Backwell and Congresbury to Cheddar. Here you’ll find the spectacular Cheddar Gorge, which you can trace through to Yoxter and north through the Mendip Hills (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) back to Bristol.

What makes it so good?

Cheddar Gorge is one of the UK’s most spectacular rock formations, and riding through it is the best way to experience it. Plus, of course, you can stop in the local village of Cheddar for a cheese sandwich!

Hardest part?

While beautiful, Cheddar Gorge also has pitches of road up to 19%, so can be trusted to test the legs.

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8. Surrey Hills

The Route 

While the end of this year’s Tour of Britain is in central London, it’s not so much fun without closed roads, so we’ve headed out to the Surrey hills instead. Start in Guildford and head east through Shere, turning left up Whitedown Lane, and descending down Beech Lane. From there make your way over the back of Ranmore via Chapel Lane, then go through Dorking to take on Box Hill. Navigate through the villages to the base of Leith Hill on Ockley Lane, climb it, then head back to Guildford via Holmbury Hill and Peaslake.

What makes it so good?

The fact that such brutal climbs and quiet lanes lie in such close proximity to London.

Hardest part?

With slopes of up to 16%, the first climb of the day, Whitedown, is a sharp way to kick things off.

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This will be updated as the race progresses.

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