Cycle the UK's Grand Tour across England, Wales & Scotland
At a Glance
A UK Cycle Tour like no other: from the Cotswolds, to the Brecon Beacons in Wales, and onto Edinburgh in Scotland, this cycling holiday is an experience not to be missed.
Saddle up for an unforgettable cycling holiday, with this 10-night fully guided tour of the UK. Ride to the birthplaces of Shakespeare and Churchill. Immerse yourself in Northumberland’s magnificent castles and Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Pedal through the quintessential English hills of the Cotswolds, the rugged fells of the Lake District and the wild beauty of the Brecon Beacons.
With an abundance of history and heritage to uncover, friendly groups of likeminded adventurers and an experienced Active England guide leading the way, this grand tour is the perfect way to explore the UK.
Catching the train from London Paddington to the beautiful city of Oxford, we begin our grand tour of the UK by exploring the various iconic university colleges. Having soaked up the unique atmosphere of this historic city, our handpicked Active England guide will then fit you up with your bikes and lead you on a stunning introductory ride through the Cotswolds. In the evening, we settle down in the charming market town of Moreton-in-Marsh, and enjoy our first dinner together as a group.
Winding our way through the quiet country lanes and over the rolling hills of the Cotswolds, our first stop today is the quintessential English town of Chipping Campden. From here, we continue on to Hidcote Gardens, internationally renowned for its collection of incredible outdoor “rooms.” We then eat a packed lunch at Broadway Tower, enjoying awe-inspiring views over 16 counties in England and Wales, before biking back to our hotel via some of the most region’s most beloved towns and villages. From the Slaughters to the ‘Venice of the Cotswolds’, Bourton-on-the-Water, our guides will ensure you see the absolute best of this beautiful corner of England.
Today we begin with coffee at Daylesford Organic, the most exclusive farm shop in the Cotswolds, before cycling around 20 miles through idyllic countryside to Blenheim Palace. Winston Churchill’s birthplace and now a World Heritage Site, we eat lunch overlooking the Capability Brown parklands, and take some time during the afternoon to explore the historic Palace or the 2,000-acre estate. Mounting up once again, we end our day with a return ride to Moreton-in-Marsh, for our final evening in the Cotswolds.
We ride north to Stratford-upon-Avon, a medieval market town in England’s West Midlands and the 16th-century birthplace of William Shakespeare. Taking plenty of time to explore all this historic location has to offer, including a visit to Shakespeare’s birthplace and the church in which he’s buried, we’ll then transfer to the Brecon Beacons National Park for the Welsh leg of our grand tour.
Today we’ll bike through the beautiful Brecon Beacons. Heading into Clydach Gorge, a wooded valley containing caves, waterfalls, old railway lines and a fast-flowing river, our route takes us onto the Taff Trail, a 55-mile route stretching all the way to Cardiff. We return at the end of today’s ride to our hotel in Abergavenny. Set against the beautiful Black Mountains, this friendly little town is the perfect place to rest up for our final evening in Wales.
We transfer this morning to the Lake District, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and England’s largest National Park. Staying in the bustling market town of Keswick, we mount up and set out on a looped ride of Buttermere. Famous for its glorious setting among the northern fells, this is without doubt one of the most stunning Lake District valleys. Cycling back to Keswick for a pint of local ale and some well-deserved R&R, this lively little town has an excellent selection of local restaurants to choose from for this evening’s dinner.
Today’s itinerary takes us on a circular ride around the North Lake District range, where we’ll encounter the imposing Skiddaw and Blencathra mountains. In the afternoon, we visit the popular tourist destination of Ambleside. Sitting at the head of Windermere, England’s largest natural lake, we’ll take a little time to rest up and visit some of the many local shops and cafés, before returning to the hotel.
We begin today with a transfer to Hadrian’s Wall, the world-famous Roman structure that stretches 73 miles from coast to coast. Hitting the trails, our route takes us from Housesteads, the most complete Roman fort in Britain, to Vindolanda, one of England’s most significant archaeological sites. Following the wall itself, we’ll have plenty of opportunity as we ride to marvel at what is undoubtedly one of England’s most dramatic landmarks, as well as to visit the striking Sycamore Gap tree.
Today we cycle to some of Northumberland’s most magnificent castles. We start the day with Lindisfarne, the ancient site of England’s first Christian settlements, its location on a tidal estuary showcases Northumberland’s unparalleled coastline in all its glory. Finally, we end today’s ride at Bamburgh. Sitting high on an outcrop over the beach, with wonderful views over to the Farne Islands and back across the causeway to Lindisfarne, this particular castle is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular in the area. With our ride complete, we end the day by transferring to Edinburgh.
For our last full day, we cycle the highlights of Scotland’s magnificent capital. Starting with the striking Pentland Hills, southwest of the city, we then bike along the canals before exploring some of Edinburgh most iconic local landmarks on foot. From touring the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, to walking post Holyrood Palace and up the famous Arthur’s Seat, our guides will show you all this historic city has to offer. With our grand tour now drawing to a close, we’ll celebrate the end of our adventure with a final dinner together.
After a relaxed breakfast, our Active England guide will lead you to Edinburgh Waverley railway station, where we’ll say our farewells and provide any help you might need with your onward travel arrangements. We can also help with transfers to the airport. Alternatively, extended tours are available on request for those eager to explore the breath-taking Scottish islands and highlands. If you would like to extend your tour, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.
The Manor House Hotel
The Manor House Hotel, Moreton in Marsh, is an enchanting 16th Century Cotswold retreat where you can both indulge and relax in a homely atmosphere.
The Angel Hotel
A luxurious hotel in the centre of Abergavenny - known as the 'Gateway to Wales' as it's situated between 7 hills on the Welsh/English border. They pride themselves in the time-honoured art of High Tea as the holder of The British Tea Guild Council’s Top City and Country Afternoon Tea Award and The Award of Excellence. The menu changes to offer the freshest ingredients in line with the season.
Borrowdale Gates Hotel
Originally a magnificent private residence, the Borrowdale Gates Hotel maintains the lovely, homely atmosphere of a genuine country house. Set in its own 3 acres of wooded grounds at the head of Derwentwater facing south into the Jaws of Borrowdale, it’s no surprise that Alfred Wainwright described it as the “loveliest square mile in Lakeland”.
The Hog's Head Inn
A silver award-winner in the North East England Tourism Awards, The Hog’s Head Inn in Alnwick is named after the tavern in the Harry Potter books and films. Just a few minutes’ drive from Alnwick Castle, which doubled as Hogwarts in the first two boy-wizard films, this modern inn is close to The Alnwick Garden, Alnmouth and Northumberland National Park.
A boutique hotel in Leith, perfectly placed on the area's bustling waterfront. Relax in the elegant cocktail bar or on the waterfront terrace. Enjoy a divine dinner at Chez Mal Brasserie.
What our guides say...
Everything you could wish for on a trip of a lifetime on two wheels.
- All accommodation as indicated on the itinerary
- All breakfasts and x5 dinners (excluding dinner drinks)
- Walking poles
- GPS routes, provided via RideWithGPS (app available for Apple or Android)
- All special events, iconic points of interests and entrance fees – Entry into Oxford Colleges, Hidcote Gardens, Broadway Tower, Blenheim Palace, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda, Bamburgh Castle, Lindisfarne, Edinburgh Castle
- All transportation from rendezvous to farewell locations
- All baggage transportation
- All gratuities for baggage, porters and hotel service
- Services of a professional local guide
We have handpicked the best family run, independent and country hotels, pubs and guest houses. Cosy and with informal dining, these country hotels are friendly and relaxed, with great menus with locally sourced food and ales. Our handpicked accommodation is 3* with the option to upgrade to 4* for an additional cost.
This tour is rated moderate, meaning it’s appropriate for guests who enjoy a good ride and can handle an incline or two. We cover varied terrain, enjoying some rolling hills and a few steeper climbs which are slightly more demanding. Your holiday, however, will be tailored by your guide to suit your individual preferences. Daily distances range from 25-40 miles. Rewarding views are guaranteed!
- Bikes (road / hybrid / e-bike (with supplement)
- Phone mounts
- Bike accessories
- Guests are free to bring their own pedals / saddles, which we will fit to the bikes
Pick-up location: London Paddington railway station. Our cycling holidays are designed to be completely stress-free, with the start of our tours sitting within easy reach of major transport hubs. This tour starts from London Paddington railway station, easily accessible from London Heathrow Airport via the Heathrow Express. We also have a number of 4* / 5* hotel partners in London. If you would like to arrange a night’s accommodation in London, we would be more than happy to help.
End-of-tour location: Edinburgh Waverley railway station, a direct 4.5-hour train journey from London Kings Cross. Alternatively, there are air options from Edinburgh to various other destinations in the UK, as well as direct air routes to North America.
What’s the best way to get to the start of the trip?
All of our trips are designed to be easily accessible via public transport and start from train stations served by direct trains from London Paddington. Similarly we’ll transfer you back to a train station at the end of your trip. We’re always happy to help with travel arrangements.
How hilly is England?
There are hills but that also means views! We’ll also make sure you a rewarded with cake and other delicious local food.
Can I join this trip as a solo traveller?
All our trips are open for single travellers to join. You will have a great time on our walking tours whether travelling on your own, as a couple, family or group, meeting like-minded people on our guided trips, or choosing your own adventure on our self-guided tours. “As a single female, I would not hesitate to go on another Active England trip as a solo traveller”. S.G.
Why go on a guided holiday?
Our guides are the beating heart of our tours and can make all the difference to the enjoyment of your walking holiday – so we make sure to choose them VERY carefully! They are driven, knowledgeable, know how to have A LOT of fun and importantly will take you on the ‘road less travelled’ across England. They are know the best spots for making your walking tour truly different and truly magical!
What’s the weather like in England?
Changeable! Devon & Cornwall has a much more tropical climate than the rest of England so it is often warmer and wetter – it’s not uncommon to have sunshine and showers in the same day, or even the same hour! It’s generally very pleasant and settled during the summer. It can be a little cooler up North, so we’d recommend layers and waterproofs. And we always recommend suncream, even on a cloudy day!
Want to extend your trip?
If you would like to stay in London for a few extra days, we have city tours available and a list of 4* and 5* partner hotels. Get in touch to find how we can extend your adventure.
What’s the Number?
Nearly everything has a carbon footprint. Together with ecollective, we’ve measured the carbon impact of not only every tour we operate but our entire business. We’ve taken into account greenhouse gas emissions across the business including office, travel, website, vehicles, accommodation, activities, food, suppliers…
What does the number mean?
We’re going to improve this by measuring and reducing our footprint each year. That means working with our suppliers to make changes that have a more positive impact on us and the planet. What does this look like in reality?
- Redesign trips to reduce our carbon impact
- Working closely with all our suppliers across England to join us on our decarbonisation journey
- Switching up our vehicle fleet to electric
- Investing in projects that permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere for any emissions that remain.
We’ve got a long way to go but we’re on our way to net-zero
We’re committed to reducing our impact on the planet and working towards a sustainable future. We’ve taken ownership of our carbon footprint and are on a mission to reduce our emissions year on year.