Perhaps the best way to take in the British countryside is one two wheels. That’s right, I’m talking about the bicycle. While London has everything you could desire in a metropolitan city, getting out of the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle is a healthy and fun idea, especially for families with children. Luckily, trains from London to Manchester are fast (just under 2 hours), cheap, and easy to book online. Liverpool is another great cycling destination, as it has quick access to some of the UK’s most stunning countryside. Here are some of my favorite family-friendly cycling routes in the Liverpool and Manchester areas:
Manchester Cycleway – This lovely cycle tour follows the path of an old railway. Long out of use, the trail Fallowfield railway line takes you by several parks that are great to stop at when the kids get tired. For example, Highfield Country Park, Debdale Water Park and Chorlton Water Park are great destinations that will have the kids running, playing and laughing all day. There is also lots of wildlife to observe, which is always fun for the whole family.
Manchester Airport Orbital Cycleway – If you’ve got aspiring pilots in the family this is the trail to choose! It is an eight mile long loop that is mainly off-road, so no cars zooming by. It takes you past the Aviation Viewing Park where you can check out the old aircraft as well as modern planes in action. If the kids want to get out and run, there is a nice place to stop and have a picnic lunch at the Styal Country Park. Big green fields, open spaces, and of course – airplanes. What more could you ask for?
Oldham biking routes – Just a 30 minute drive from Manchester lies the quaint little town of Oldham. Oldham offers some of the best biking in the country, especially for families as traffic is very low. I suggest the Greenfield to Mossley loop, which is fairly flat and completely traffic free. There is also a section that runs along old rail tracks. The Delph Donkey is another fun route. It gets its name from the old Delph Donkey railway, which has been completely transformed and restored as a cycling path. Lastly, check out the Diggle Jiggle Mountain Bike Route (even the name is fun!) This is a longer loop, 11 miles, but it is usually done in two separate halves.
Liverpool – Cycle the Mersey – Starting in New Brighton, this is a four mile ride into the center of Liverpool. As you get closer to the Seacombe Terminal you get a fantastic view of Liverpool’s lovely waterfront. If you’re feeling ambitious, continue along the waterfront to Otterspool and get front-row access to Liverpool’s most famous attractions: The Beatles Museum, Tate Gallery, the Albert Dock and the Liver Buildings. This ride is also totally traffic free! If you are planning to visit Liverpool, check out the citibike hire service, a 24 hour service providing bikes for tourists.
Liverpool – Route 66
This is for a family of athletes, as the trip is a bit longer – but oh so worth it! Also, you can come back on the train if you are too tired to make it back on bike. Merseyrail does not charge to bring a bike onboard! The route starts in Southport, then head through Chester by way of Liverpool and quaint little Wirral. Also, there is a great little cafe in the Brimstage Craft Center, which is on the way from Storeton to Parkgate. My favorite village on the ride is Thornton Hough, mostly because of the delicious homemade ice cream!