Not only does the South West provide some of the best waves in the world, but also some of the most scenic family cycling trails that the country has to offer. Our beautiful landscape has been recognised by keen cyclists around Europe and the globe, but also event organisers of the Tour of Britain, as Stage 6 of the 2016 tour headed to the region in September.
Stage 6 starts in the quaint seaside town of Sidmouth and makes its way through Tiverton and onto the rugged terrain of Dartmoor. This stage of the competition attracted more than 250,000 spectators, spurring on the athletes that hurtled down the picturesque lanes of the Devonshire countryside.
With this, we have created a cool interactive map for the whole family to use, with bike hire recommendations and the best cycle trails the region has to offer. Take a look and see what the South West has to offer when getting out and about on your bike!
Bike Hire in the South West
Bike Hire is a great addition to the family holiday or even if you are just planning a day out. With such a vast range of bikes to choose from suitable for all ages, everyone can enjoy a cycle ride in the South West!
To go with the list of friendly bike hire companies below, we have created a handy interactive map with even more great bike hire centres located across Devon, Cornwall and Somerset, making your exploration of the South West that little bit easier to plan! With a wide range of bikes and accessories to cater for all ages, no one will be left short of a fantastic a family cycling adventure.
Bikelands – Exmouth
Located on the glorious stretch of beach and coastline of Exmouth, Bikelands is a quirky, friendly bike hire company to suit all abilities and ages.
Rebecca Haywood from Bikelands says: “There are so many amazing places to visit by bike in Devon, and Exmouth has some superb cycle routes on our doorstep that explores villages, seaside and countryside in one swoop.”
Commenting on one of the magnificent family-friendly cycle routes around the area, Rebecca explains:
- “Pick up your hire bikes from Bikelands in Exmouth.
- Starting from Orcombe Point at the end of Exmouth's beachfront, cycle west along the designated cycle path that hugs the beach, check out the stunning views of the English Riviera.
- Pick up the Route 2 cycle trail alongside the railway station. As you join the trail you'll immediately notice the ever-changing view over to Starcross and Mamhead, it’ll take your breath away.”
The cycle route continues onto the glorious, pretty village of Lympstone and towards the quaint fishing town of Topsham, where you can sit and watch the local wildlife along the estuary with proper Devonshire grub that the whole family can enjoy.
AggieCycles – St. Agnes
If you have watched the TV series ‘Poldark’, when visiting bike hire company AggieCycles you will be sure to recognise the surrounding area in which scenes were filmed!
Jamie from AggieCycles explains: “AggieCycles is located on the North Cornwall coast in the heart of St. Agnes, which itself sits within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site, a fantastic location to explore on two wheels.
“Once you have explored St. Agnes there are a number of sign-posted routes:
- Head to the seaside town of Perranporth which sits between St. Agnes and Newquay
- Alternatively follow the signs to Scorrier and access the ‘Coast to Coast’ trail and continue to Cornwall’s south coast, exploring further examples of our mining heritage on the way.”
Go By Cycle – Cornwall
Have you ever found yourself needing more room in the back of the car when going on a cycling holiday with the family? Then fear not! Go By Cycle is a superb service that deliver bike hire across Cornwall to holiday accommodation, so there’s no need to worry about having to pack your bikes as well as everything else.
Regular family cyclists, Kelly and Paul from Go By Cycle say: “We are keen cyclists ourselves and the children learnt at a very young age. We’d take them out in child seats when they were little, trailer bikes on the road and they can cycle the traffic free trails and quieter lanes on their own bikes, which they absolutely love.
“Cycling in Cornwall and Devon is a wonderful way to explore the beautiful countryside, with miles upon miles of traffic free trails and for families with older children, incredible coastal and moorland routes which take in breathtaking scenery, creating an active, fun holiday for all the family.”
Devon Cycle Hire – Okehampton
With a range of hybrid, mountain and buggies, plus many more, Devon Cycle Hire is located on the Granite Way, a spectacular traffic-free route that takes in the views of Dartmoor.
“Come and hire bikes from Devon Cycle Hire and explore the wonderful Granite Way, a beautiful traffic free cycle route with spectacular views of Dartmoor. You can access the well-surfaced trail directly from our centre, it really is a great way to spend a day. Along the trail there is a host of flora and fauna including bluebell wood, ponds - and birds of prey can often be seen hovering overhead.” says Catherine at Devon Cycle Hire.
Porthleven Cycle Hire – Porthleven
Porthleven Cycle Hire is situated in the heart of the Cornish countryside and offers a dynamic range of ever-changing colour throughout the year.
Dave from Porthleven Cycle Hire encourages families to get out and explore this stunning scenery on board your bike.
“Open park lands, wooded lakeside trails and breathtaking coastal scenery are all within a day’s adventure. In the heart of the Penrose estate is Loe Pool, Cornwall's largest natural freshwater lake. Trails encircle the pool creating a spectacular 8 mile loop. The western side of the pool features a wide flat family friendly trail that links Helston to the beautiful old fishing village of Porthleven. The eastern side of the lake is single track with a few sharp inclines and rougher terrain, perfect for thrill seekers.
“What’s more, don’t worry about collecting or returning the bike, we will do that... for free!”
Puffing Billy Cycles – Dartmoor
Located at the base of Dartmoor, Puffing Billy Cycles is an excellent bike hire company for those who are looking to explore the rugged landscape that lies ahead of them. Their aim is to provide a local, social cycle shop serving all cyclists. Specialising in electric bikes as well as push bikes, Puffing Billy Cycles cater for every ability.
“Puffing Billy Cycles don't just stock electric bikes, you'll find a great range of road bikes, mountain bikes, kids bikes, clothing and accessories. Plus if your bike needs repairs there is a fully equipped workshop with Cytech qualified mechanics to help with that too.
“So whether you are looking for an alternative, sustainable mode of transport or to improve your fitness, finding the right bike for you needn't be an uphill struggle!”
Fox Tor Cafe – Princetown, Dartmoor
In the lovely, peaceful part of Dartmoor that is Princetown, Fox Tor Café equips you with all you need for the ultimate off-road cycling experience. Dave from Fox Tor Café says: “There are tracks suitable for most riders and the main route takes you right down to the picturesque Burrator Reservoir, where you can explore the dirt tracks or just simply sit and enjoy the views while eating your lunch!
“The ride offers the chance to follow Princetown’s old railway as it winds its way round the Dartmoor Hills you can look right over the landscape and then go for a poke around in one of the old tin mines.”
Simply The Bike – Torquay
Simply The Bike is located in the bustling town of Torquay, South Devon.
Donna from Simply The Bike says: “One of the best ways to view this stunning scenery is by bike. With a bike, you can explore nooks and crannies that are inaccessible by car and discover new and exciting places you never knew existed.”
“Cycling in Devon is great fun for all the family, with cycle routes to suit every level of cycling ability. If you don’t have a bike or can’t bring your own bikes with you, don’t worry, you can always hire some. Whether you want a gentle cycle exploring local pubs / cafes to savour the local produce, not forgetting the world-famous Devon cream tea, want to try out a few woodland trails or a ride along the coast to see the fantastic views across Torbay, why not hire a bike from Torquay's leading bike hire company.”
Lands End Cycle Hire – Lands End
Lands End Cycle Hire offers cycle hire for all the family and is located close to some of the popular bike trails that offer splendid views of Cornwall.
“'The First and Last Trail takes in Mounts Bay, with St Michaels Mount in view the whole 6 mile ride to Mousehole, leaving from our base at Long Rock. This section is by the sea, mostly off road and flat.
“After Mousehole the route takes on a more adventurous turn, climbing out of the bay and dropping down to Lamorna Cove.” explains Peter at Lands End Cycle Hire.
Saddles & Paddles – Exeter
Saddles & Paddles is a unique independent business, offering bike, canoe and kayak hire, plus bike sales and repairs. Located on Exeter’s historic Quayside, just 5 minutes from the city centre, and ideally situated for bike hire on the start of the traffic-free, picturesque Exe Estuary Trail cycle route.
Heather from Saddles & Paddles says: “We specialise in women’s and family cycling and advise on different bikes and equipment to help you get in the saddle.
“We are all passionate about what we do (all our staff are keen cyclists) and love talking about our bikes and our favourite cycle routes!”
Saddles and Paddles is located in the bustling area of Exeter Quayside and is the perfect place to start your River Exe adventure.
Darts Farm – Topsham
The incredible Darts Farm shop, located on the outskirts of Topsham and on the way to the Exmouth coastline, is a great place to stop off, enjoy some local, fresh food and get on your bikes using their bike hire service.
Rachel from Darts Farm says: “Situated on the doorstop of the Clyst Valley and the River Exe Estuary, Darts Farm is the perfect start to a beautiful riverside ride. Gather together a picnic from Darts Farm’s award-winning food hall or fuel up in the restaurant before setting off along the river. With a wide range of traditional British-made Pashley bikes for hire, including tandems, children’s bikes and baby seats, there is something for the whole family to enjoy Devon on wheels.”
Sustrans – helping you to get back on your bike
Sustrans is a UK-based charity with cycling at the heart of its work and services. The charity enables “people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day.”
Working alongside Saltrock Ambassador Andrei Burton to promote just how beneficial cycling is in a range of different ways, Sustrans looks to enable and help people of all ages to fund a healthier and cheaper way of travel.
With a range of helpful and informative resources for cycling, including route planners, safety tips and ways in which you can use your car less and pedal more, Sustrans is a leader in charitable work, supporting people to get out onto their bikes and into the fresh air!
If you would like to explore the wide range of resources and fantastic cycle routes that cater for all abilities and ages such as Coastal Rides, Best Cornish and Devon Rides and Traffic-Free Family Rides, take a look at the Sustrans website for more information and to get inspired for your next adventure!
Take a look at just some of their cycling routes for the whole family to enjoy below:
Neil Aldridge, Communications and Marketing Officer at Sustrans says: “Cycling is a wonderful way to have fun as a family. There are many traffic-free routes across our National Cycle Network that make for a brilliant day out, whether you’re packing a picnic, going to the beach or visiting a tourist attraction.”
Speaking about the work of Sustrans and how, with the hard work of it volunteers, it has become one of the most recognised charities supporting a healthier, cleaner Britain, Neil explains that by creating more cycling and walking routes, we are building a stronger economy.
“Sustrans enables people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. For nearly forty years we have been making journeys safer, empowering people, connecting communities and creating cleaner, healthier spaces.
“We know, thanks to our Bike Life surveys, that people want to change how they travel, particularly by cycling more. Encouraging people to enjoy cycling is made easier in a suitable physical environment. That is why we have continued to grow the National Cycle Network, which passes within a mile of half of all UK homes and stretches over 14,000 miles across the length and breadth of the UK.”
And thanks to the popularity of this event and the tremendous support from locals and tourists for the athletes taking part, this year Saltrock, alongside Andrei Burton, Saltrock Ambassador and World Champion Trial Bike rider will be performing and highlighting the very best of family cycling in the South West.
Andrei Burton has been a part of the Saltrock family since 2006 and, since then, we have seen him rank as one of the most successful trials bike riders not just in the UK, but in the world! Growing up in Devon, Andrei knows of the best places to ride and train like the back of his hand and is forever grateful for the natural courses which provide the ultimate training facilities.
“Cycling provides me with such a sense of freedom and every great rider has their ‘place’, which they use as their training ground. For me, it’s got to be Dartmoor, in fact, I’ve worked out that I have trained for 3,000 hours on Dartmoor since finding trials biking. I can spend up to four hours without my feet touching the floor and I do this up to four days a week!”
Trials riding is in Andrei’s blood and veins. Explaining the variety of cycling opportunities for all abilities, Andrei is thankful for the work that has gone into the development and variety of cycle paths in and around Devon.
“Cycle Exeter and Devon County Council have built some amazing cycle paths for both everyday cyclists and those in training. I have a friend who cycles regularly along the cycle paths to train for triathlon competitions and I use them regularly to get from A to B.
For those who are looking for a mountain bike experience, Woodbury is a fantastic place to start and also the road riding routes around East Devon offer some spectacular views. The range of cycle networks here in the region really are some of the best in the country!”
Aside from performing and competing at some of the world’s best events, Andrei is working hard to promote cycling and his sport to deliver the level of participation it deserves. Starting his own Ride London event, with six of the best trials riders in the world competing to break world records, Andrei explains: “I want to push trials into a position where it gets international popularity and for people to A) watch it for the sport and competitive aspect and B) see how spectacular it is to watch.”
And for those who are looking to get into cycling or trials bike riding as a hobby, Andrei’s best advice would be to “just get out on your bike and have fun”.
“Whatever sport you decide to enjoy as a hobby or as a career, you will always be better and a head above the rest if you enjoy it. Cycling and trials biking isn’t like tennis or golf, where you can get angry at your mistakes. Bike riding is all about having fun and for you to be at one with the bike and the natural environment.”
Tour of Britain 2016
After taking a year out of participation from the Tour Of Britain, Devon wasback in business and hosted Stage 6 of 2016’s competition. The 150 kilometre race weaved its way around gruelling countryside and coastline, starting at one of the most prized seaside towns in Devon, Sidmouth.
Narrow roads, fast and slow ascents and descents covering 3,000 metres are pathing the way for one of the most challenging rides the athletes faced throughout the 2016 tour. Popular Devonshire towns and villages lined the course such as Honiton, Ottery St Mary, Tiverton, Crediton and Moretonhampstead and saw people of all ages cheering them on.
There are numerous resources to download and print from the Tour Of Britain website which are available for everyone to use as well as videos, galleries and results.