Matt

Rides

A bike leans on a National Cycle Network waymarker, a tree to one side and a loch in the background.

This had to be the one. No. Maybe that one over there? Wrong again. Each time I decided a towering hill was the one guarding the head of the glen, signifying I was nearly home, my hopes were dashed. Eventually, I stopped torturing myself and just let the climbs come. The glen would appear in its own time, it couldn’t be rushed.

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A child rides their bike on a winding trail through a pine forest, their green coat billowing behind them.

After settling into our little white cottage, we rode the path from the village down to the visitors’ centre. Off-road riding almost from the door. This was how things should be, this was going to be a good holiday.

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A child cycles along a rough track in high country, grassy slopes on either side.

Not every family rough-stuff expedition we attempt goes smoothly but an October ride in the Elan Valley proved to be a hit, despite the conditions.

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When a drive back from Cornwall took us past the start of the Granite Way in Okehampton, it was the perfect chance for a ride that offers a unique perspective on Dartmoor.

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A young boy in a blue t-shirt sits on a sandy beach, his yellow bike propped up in the sand behind him.

Our largely car-free week in Cornwall showed what’s possible when people have access to good cycling infrastructure.

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Three bikes lean against a wooden gate and fence in a forest.

Following a year in which the pandemic had kept us close to home, the prospect of a few days pedalling along tracks by the River Wye felt like a distant adventure.

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A young boy in a blue t-shirt cycles away from the camera on a forest track.

It had been six months since we’d been to Mortimer Forest and it felt good to be back. For family rides, forest tracks offer us the sort of traffic-free exploration that’s hard to come by where we live. Whenever we roll out of a car park and into the trees, we feel free.

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A child in a blue t-shirt rides a bike away down a farm track.

When the fruit farm’s website announced the ripening of the strawberries, we knew exactly where our family ride that Sunday would take us.

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A track through woodland passes the brick pillars of a dismantled railway bridge.

Every now and then, a tell-tale line of undergrowth cuts across my path. It marks the route of the old railway line. Of the hop pickers who once rode trains into Herefordshire in search of seasonal work, there remains only the slightest trace.

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A child cycles away from the camera up a forest track.

For much of the ride we followed the ghosts of old steam trains – their rails now long gone and their presence a distant memory. In their place: cycle paths and forests tracks.

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