How to explore the Cantii Way, England's newest long-distance cycle route

Whether you’re a seasoned cyclist or keen to try your first two-wheel adventure, there’s never been a better time to explore the UK by bike, with a range of exciting new routes to discover.

By Amy Sedghi
Published 2 Jun 2022, 15:00 BST
Cycling beneath the 13th-century New Gate, near Winchelsea, East Sussex, on the Cantii Way.

Cycling beneath the 13th-century New Gate, near Winchelsea, East Sussex, on the Cantii Way.

Photograph by Jordon Gibbons

Adding to their growing network of new cycling routes, charity Cycling UK’s latest trail winds for 145 miles around the Kent and East Sussex countryside, starting and ending in the village of Wye, close to Ashford.

The route takes its name from the ancient Celtic Cantii tribe, whom Julius Caesar met on his conquest of England in 54 BC, and from which Canterbury and Kent derive their names. Described by Cycling UK as ‘equal parts culinary and cycling tour’, it aims to combine favourites such as Whitstable, Canterbury and Dover with some of the lesser-known rural treasures of the Garden of England and beyond, including orchards, vineyards, tearooms, farms and oasthouses. Perhaps best of all, however, is how accessible the route is — it can either be tackled in one go or broken up into stages over a few days, with stops accessible by train.

Over in North Yorkshire, the 12-mile Market Town Trail launched earlier this year, mixing Ryedale’s lush landscape with some of the county’s top food offerings. The trail connects Malton — regarded as Yorkshire’s food capital — with Pickering, home to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. It also provides a welcome link between the various trails within the Yorkshire Wolds, the North York Moors National Park, and the cyclist’s paradise of Dalby Forest. There’s cycling prestige here, too: the area will play host to British Cycling’s National Road Race Championship Series in August and the Tour of Britain in September. 

Bikepacking fans, meanwhile, will want to set off on the 115-mile East Devon Trail, which launched in May. It begins and ends at Exeter St Davids station, making it easy to access, but then swiftly veers off the beaten track and into Devon’s famed countryside, home to freshwater marshes and quiet woodland, and also dips into neighbouring Somerset and Dorset, too.

Three more trips on two wheels

Ride and rave in Ibiza
Sun-drenched rides, gourmet barbecues on the beach and tips from Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish — a former and current cycling pro, respectively — it's all on offer with this newly launched Ibiza trip from luxury cycling tour operator LeBlanq. As well as rides ranging from 37 to 99 miles, there’s also sunrise yoga, drinks by the pool and even massages from dedicated soigneurs. Expect Radio 1 DJ Pete Tong to join you, too — not only for the afterparty, but also for a guest appearance on the pedals. 20-23 October 2022. From £2,795. 

Hit new heights in Switzerland
With over 200 miles of bike trails, the mountain resort of Laax has long drawn mountain bikers keen to test their mettle. A flowing enduro route, the Segnes Trail, is set to be launched by the resort in August, connecting directly to the Runca Trail — one of the longest flow country trails in Europe. Heading out from one of the oldest mountain huts in the region, the Segnes Trail will give mountain bikers plenty to chew on with its banked slaloms, jumps and paths, all set amid dramatic Alpine landscapes. 

Test your mettle across Europe
If you’re keen to try mountain cycling and pushing yourself to the limit, then the Cent Cols Challenge might just be for you. The demanding, 10-stage routes are not for the faint-hearted, so the addition of new six-stage events (with a rest day halfway through) is a welcome tweak to the programme. The two new six-stage challenges take place in the Alps and eastern Pyrenees. The CC6 Northern Alps runs from 4 to 10 July 2022, while the CC6 East Pyrenees takes place from 26 September to 2 October 2022.

Published in the July/Aug 2022 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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