With so many of us swapping our holidays abroad for staycations this summer, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore a bit more of the UK and Ireland.

If you want to see as much of the picturesque countryside as possible – while also getting all the benefits of a sneaky bit of exercise – a cycling trip might just be your best bet. And luckily – thanks to lockdown – many of us have recently wised up to how great cycling is, and invested in a bike.

There’s no shortage of trails and loops to enjoy either. Here are some of the best longer cycle routes in the UK and Ireland that you can really make a holiday of…

1. Yorkshire Dales Cycleway, Yorkshire

There are plenty of breathtaking cycle paths in the Yorkshire Dales, many of which will take you down some of the roads the Tour de France took in 2014.

In total, the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway is a 210km (130 miles) route with a few challenging climbs along the way. It’s a circular trail that starts and ends in the town of Skipton, but you can very much take it at your own pace, or do as much of the route as you want. It’s all on-road cycling and you’ll pass through various quaint villages to stop off or stay in. And while they might leave you out of breath, the steep hills will be worth it for sweeping views across the Dales.

2. Hebridean Way Cycling Route, Scotland

To really get away from the hustle and bustle of modern life, the Hebridean Way Cycling Route will feel like you’ve stepped back in time. The roads are quiet and serene, the landscape rugged, and you’ll be immersed in the wildness of the Scottish coastline. At nearly 300km (185 miles) it’s not a short route, but is definitely an adventure as you hop across tiny Scottish islands with the help of ferries, and see huge numbers of sea birds.

3. Radnor Ring, Wales

If you want an introduction to just how jaw dropping the scenery in Wales can be, this loop is unmissable. At 135km (84 miles) you could do it in a day if you’re particularly fit and used to challenging bike rides, but if you’re opting to slow things down and enjoy the journey, you could space it out and take a few days instead.

The Radnor Ring is scenic, relatively quiet and has the option for an off-road section if you wanted to do some mountain biking.

4. Hadrian’s Cycleway, England

If you want to add a bit of history to your holiday, look no further than Hadrian’s Cycleway. As the name suggests, this route traces the Roman wall.

It officially starts in the village of Ravenglass in Cumbria and ends in South Shields in Tyne and Wear, meaning you cycle from one side of the country to the other. The route is around 270km (170 miles) and passes through plenty of cute villages and Roman ruins.

5. The Burren Cycling Route, Ireland

The Burren Cycling Route in County Clare takes you through the smallest national park in Ireland. The total loop is around 150km, but as with so many of these routes, you can take it at your own pace, stopping off for the night when you need to, and picking and choosing which parts you want to ride.

The best thing about this route is the variety of the landscape. You’ll cycle past rocky mountains, through luscious greenery as well as along beaches and epic cliffs and coastlines.