Every week our Holiday Hero Neil Simpson takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the legwork so you don’t have to. This week: Why ‘bike-packing’ could be the summer’s hottest holiday trend.
As the name suggests, bike-packing is back-packing on two wheels – but do it in style and you’ll be on an adventurous holiday that is far less arduous than it sounds.
Gone are the days of being weighed down by a mountainous load on your back and trying to soothe weary bones in youth hostel dormitories. Now you can join tours through the glorious British countryside with a series of cosy B&Bs to welcome you each evening.
Into the wild: Tours provide stunning routes while luggage can be sent ahead to cosy B&Bs each night
And with their popularity growing among staycationers looking for something a bit different, specialist tour firms are ramping up their options this summer to cater for everyone from serious riders to families of all abilities.
New adventure travel company Roam sent holidaymakers on its inaugural three-day trip this weekend into the heart of southern Snowdonia.
It supplies top-notch off-road bikes combined with new paniers that spread weight more evenly across the frame, which means riders should barely notice the load.
The route includes mountains, lakes, beaches, rivers, forests and stunning sea views, while the cyclists have directions to a ‘secret’ swimming spot deep in a forest and end their trip freewheeling down the traffic-free ‘Hellfire Pass’ to the town of Machynlleth.
While you can stay each night in the rural civilisation of well-chosen B&Bs, there is an option to get away from everything. In this case, camping pitches are booked for you and riders are issued with low-weight tents, sleeping bags and air pillows. A compact stove is also included to boil hot water for a morning coffee.
Worried you’ll get lost? All cyclists are given easy-to-use GPS navigation devices and contact details for emergency support. The Snowdonia itinerary, costing from £325pp for B&B or from £255pp for the camping option, is one of four offered by Roam (roambikepacking.co.uk).
Families can add two-wheeled adventures to a staycation at 11 Forestry England sites with Forest Holidays. Pictured is Sherwood Forest
Other companies are creating niche packages in the fast-growing market for UK bike holidays.
A top choice for those wanting a luxurious and leisurely experience is the aptly named Cycling For Softies. It puts good food at the heart of its itineraries, with restaurant recommendations on each daily route. Electric-powered e-bikes also come as standard on many tours so pedalling, especially uphill, is easier.
Examples include its ‘Grand Tour of the Cotswolds’, from Moreton- in-Marsh to Bath that takes in Stratford-upon-Avon, Upper and Lower Slaughter and Stroud. Guests stay in four-star country hotels with their luggage transported ahead by taxi every day so there’s even less to carry on the bike.
Four-day trips start at £1,115pp (cycling-for-softies.co.uk).
A top-selling Skedaddle trip is its self-guided, five-day Coast And Castles tour from Newcastle to Edinburgh that takes in Bamburgh Castle (above)
Families can add two-wheeled adventures to a staycation at 11 Forestry England sites with Forest Holidays. Book a stay in a wood cabin in Sherwood Forest, the Forest of Dean, Hampshire’s Blackwood Forest and more and rental bikes can be delivered to your door along with brilliant riding routes mapped out for you (forestholidays.co.uk).
This year, travel firms that normally specialise in bike trips across Europe, Central America and the Far East have brought some of their best staff back to the UK to satisfy huge demand for cycling staycations. Companies to consider include explore.co.ukexplore.co.uk, headwater.com, macsadventure.com and the long-established skedaddle.com. All have a mix of guided, self-guided, short and long trips in all four corners of the country.
A top-selling Skedaddle trip is its self-guided, five-day Coast And Castles tour from Newcastle to Edinburgh that takes in Dunstanburgh and Bamburgh castles, Holy Island and the beautiful beaches of Berwick-upon-Tweed.