Cycling with the kids is a great way to get active as a family. But it can be hard work too, especially for small legs, or if you have a baby in a bike seat. Cycling in parks is not only much safer than taking to the roads, but it also means that you can loop back round and head home – or to a cafe – whenever you want, plus there are usually other activities on offer too so you can make a day of it. We asked our team of Local Expert Parents around the country to tell us about the best parks for cycling near them, and below you’ll find the top picks!
In & around London:
As a nature reserve, there is so much to see in Richmond Park, including deer and several species of bird, plus some lovely picnic spots, such as Martin’s Pond. You can hire bikes for all the family, including baby and toddler seats and trailers, at Parkcycle in the Roehampton Gate car park. Their website also has information on suggested routes to help you plan your day.
Recommended by Sophie & Maria
Alice Holt in Farnham
This park boasts an extremely family-friendly 3-mile cycle trail and bikes are available to hire from the Alice Holt Cycle Centre. There are loads of other fun things to do in the forest too, including Gruffalo spotting!
Recommended by Vicky
Finsbury Park in North London
Finsbury Park itself offers plenty of wide surfaced paths for cycling, and it also leads to Parkland Walk, which is a tree-lined trail along a disused railway line and is open to cyclists as well as walkers. There’s lots of wildlife, and even the odd disused platform from the old railway, to look out for along the way. Or you could start at the other end in Highgate and make Finsbury Park, with its playground, rowing lake and cafe, your destination.
Recommended by Marie-Claire & Rachael
Valentine’s Park in Ilford
Valentine’s Park is great for cycling with plenty of flat surfaces, a lovely little cafe and a great play area, as well as a huge pond to feed the ducks! If you’re based in the area, they offer free cycling training for all ages too.
Recommended by Local Editor Rebekah
Preston Park Velodrome
This velodrome, which has recently been saved by local campaigners, is the oldest cycle track in the country and is situated in the North-East corner of the park, which also contains a children’s playground, a beautiful rockery and the ‘haunted’ Preston Manor to explore.
Recommended by Claire
Alice Park has a cycle track just for kids, which has been designed like a mini road with roundabouts and give way road markings, etc. It’s a perfect place for little ones just learning to ride their bikes plus the park has a cafe and a large playground with a big sand pit for a post-cycling play.
Recommended by Local Editor Anna
Rother Valley Country Park
There’s so much to do and see in the stunning Rother Valley Country Park, such as spotting wildlife, playing in the adventure playground or riding Basil the miniature Diesel Train. There’s also a new Cycle Centre where you can hire bikes for all the family, including trailers.
Recommended by Elaine
Pittville Park, Cheltenham
Pittville Park is a lovely big park with wide paths for cycling around two of the three lakes and past the impressive Grade I listed Pittville Pump Room, the largest spa building in Cheltenham. There’s also a new playground opening up this summer plus a duck pond and aviaries, which are always popular with the kids.
Recommended by Local Editor Lisa
Forest of Dean
The beautiful Forest of Dean offers one of the best family cycling days in the country. There is an 11-mile traffic-free trail taking in the quieter parts of the forest, via old mining railway tracks and forest roads. The local cycle centre Pedal a Bike Away not only hires out bikes for the whole family (including tagalongs and trailers), but can also provide a wealth of information on the Forest, and provides direct access to the family trail.
Recommended by Lisa
Sherwood Pines, in between Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire, offers a variety of cycling trails, including a 3-mile all-weather Family Cycle Route that starts at the Visitor Centre, where you can hire bikes. Make a full day of it by packing a picnic, visiting the sand play village or raised walkway or even, for the more adventurous, taking in a visit to Go Ape!
Recommended by Amy
Moss Bank Park, Bolton
Moss Bank Park is perfect for kids to learn to ride a bike and is great for picnics. It also has a fun fair, cafe and mini train so there’s plenty to keep the whole family occupied!
Recommended by Jill
There are two family trails in Thetford Forest in Norfolk, one 5 miles and one 10 miles. Bikes can be hired from Bike Art plus there is a large play area and a “Go Ape” tree walk so you can make a day of it!
Recommended by Selina
French Weir Park, Taunton
French Weir Park is a nice little park that offers space for cycling, plus other interesting activities for tots, such as wildlife areas and a bug hotel. It’s situated alongside the River Tone in Taunton, so kids can feed the ducks, and its banks are the ideal place to stop for picnics.
Recommended by Sue
Milton Country Park
Milton Country Park in South Cambridgeshire is a lovely park with cycle hire facilities, a lovely children’s play area, a lake and a nice cafe (with yummy ice cream!) plus lots of picnic tables. There are two miles of surfaced paths for cycling and, if you’re in the area for an extended period, you can also take advantage of their family cycling sessions for kids learning to ride or for anyone looking to build up their confidence on the saddle.
Recommended by Steph
There aren’t many parks in Oxfordshire that allow cycling surprisingly given Oxford’s reputation for cyclists, but Abbey Meadow does and it’s perfect for a lazy family cycle day past old ruins and ducks on the river. There’s plenty of space for picnics too, plus a heated outdoor swimming pool, splash park, crazy golf and a play area too.
Recommended by Danielle
Do you know of any others? Let us know in the comments below!