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Want to ride some US-style gravel in the UK? Check out this guide with some epic UK gravel routes

Ok, so maybe vast desert plains is a bit too much to ask... but there are still plenty of places to ride gravel all around the UK! Check out these routes if you're a fan of the gritty stuff

Gravel bikes and gravel riding has exploded in recent years, but here in the wet and windy UK we're a little limited on actual gravel to ride on compared to cyclists across the pond. That's not to say there isn't some great gravelly places to ride in the UK though, so we're here to help with five of the best UK gravel routes that are (a little bit!) reminiscent of gravel riding in the States. 

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komoot salisbury Mat Brett 1

Contrary to popular belief, you can find hard-packed gravel and golden plains in numerous corners of the UK... maybe not thousands of miles of the stuff a la Colorado or Kansas, but plenty to put together a glorious gravel ride. 

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We've picked rides from various parts of the UK, so hopefully out of all of the suggestions you'll be able to find one close to where you live. Of course you'll find routes on komoot for each ride too. Without further ado, let's get started with our recommendations... 

The New Forest: The best of the New Forest

Contributor: Tom Faz of The Woods Cyclery

Tom says: "This route incorporates the best of the New Forest, with winding gravel trails through heathland and ancient woodland.

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There are so many things that make the New Forest a special place for gravel riding - the perfect hardback surface is fast and dry all year round, and even the day after a downpour the trails will be well drained, and not too muddy! 

There's wildlife, roaming ponies, cows, deer and even pigs at the right time of year. Plus ancient woodland featuring oak, beech and several types of pine trees that make the forest interesting and varied.

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There aren’t many other places in Britain with an area of open land as big as the New Forest, and for riding there are over 100 miles of perfect gravel trails. It's easy to stay off the road for the vast majority of your ride.

There's also quaint villages to stop at, and at the Hub of Lyndhurst you'll find The Woods Cyclery... the finest bike shop/cafe in the world if I don't say so myself!" 

Salisbury Plain 

Contributor: tech editor Mat Brett 

Mat says: "This is a 27.5 mile gravel ride around the edge of part of the MOD’s Salisbury Plain Training Area, and some of the southern and western tracks are closed to the public at certain times – in which case you’ll need to nip off and ride on the road. You can check firing times here

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The northern and eastern sections are just outside of the boundary, though, so you can ride them at any time – just don’t go inside the red flags when they’re flying or it could all end badly for you. The tracks are well-surfaced throughout and aren’t particularly technical but you will get dirty in wet weather – and we picked the grimmest day to do our ride.

We chose to start and finish in the pleasant little village of Upavon largely because it has a couple of pubs, but you could choose anywhere else on the circuit. 

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If you’re extremely lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a great bustard, one of the world’s heaviest flying birds. If you want a more likely sighting, you can nip off the route at Larkhill and ride about 1.5 miles to Stonehenge. You can get a really good view without going in."

North of England and East Midlands

Contributor: Bobby McNicol

Route 1: White Peak Gravel

"My go-to for primo gravel is the White Peak in the Peak District National Park. It’s got loads of nice white gravel segments, and this loop, starting and finishing at Buxton train station, takes on a good selection of them. It also takes in some long stretches of gravel cycleway, showcasing some of the region’s history and natural beauty."

Route 2: Glossop to Sheffield 'Peak divide' gravel

"This one is something of a Peak divide, as it takes you from Glossop on the western edge of the Peak District, over to Sheffield. It takes in a lot of hard-packed gravel, linked together by a few road sections, as well as a bit of singletrack."

Scotland: North & South 'Gravelfoyle' 

Contributor: Kerry MacPhee

"This, in my opinion, is thee best figure-of-eight loop in Gravelfoyle... of course the village in the hub of this stunning area is really called Aberfoyle, but the term was coined because it's fast becoming the UK's ultimate gravel destination.

This route is definitely on the greedy side, trying to squeeze in as much as possible! You also have a get-out if you want to end part way through as you pass through Aberfoyle village.

The route takes in sections of two classic long distance routes: The West Highland Way and the Badger Divide. It has multiple Lochs, views of the Munros and mountains galore. There's even an ice-cream stop thrown in, with the goats at Achray farm providing the milk for the delicious treat!

komoot scotland route - from Neil on komoot
Image from Neil on komoot

You get spectacular views, super fast gravel, a bit of hike-a-bike along the West Highland Way and a thrilling descent down to Loch Lomond which will make you question your bike choice. I love this ride, and it would be hard to beat anywhere." 


Contributor: and reviewer Matt Page

Route 1: West Brecon Gravel

"Starting from the hamlet of Trecastle, the route takes in three areas of forest. The first section climbs up to Usk Reservoir, with an undulating track that follows the perimeter.

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After dropping down back to Trecastle the route heads onto Epynt mountain, followed by one of the longest fire road descents in Wales, packed with twisting bends. The final section heads into Crychan forest, with more fun, undulating forest roads, and finally back across the spectacular Epynt mountain."

Route 2: Cambrian Gravel

"The route takes you from the town of Llandovery, up the Towy valley to the spectacular Llyn Brianne reservoir.

From here it climbs into Esgair Dafydd before before descending towards Abergwesyn. It's a long but gradual climb with great views across the 'Devils Staircase' road the tops out at 25% (that is thankfully avoided!) before a fun section returning to the upper part of Llyn Brianne and a gentle, quiet road back to Llandovery." 

Have we missed your favourite spot for riding US-style gravel in the UK? Let us know your suggestions below, and share your route with us on komoot!

This content has been added by a member of the staff

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matthewn5 | 2 years ago
1 like

Should include the 110 mile South Downs Way. Was walking a stretch of it at the weekend, and saw lots of gravel bikes. Varies between rough gravel and springy turf. Lots of climbing and descending. Great views!

theSplund | 2 years ago

The trail along the North of Loch Lochy is a 'secret' gravel track that is in fact widely publised as Route 78 of Sustrans. To all LEJOG-ers: don't be fooled that it is suitable for anything but a gravel bike  3

Secret_squirrel replied to theSplund | 2 years ago

You mean a standard Sustrans route? 

stomec | 2 years ago
1 like

The White Peak loop is excellent but I would recommend reversing the direction unless you are up for a challenge.  The up from Bakewell to Rowsley is quite technical on a gravel bike and the climb towards Middleton Top is hard - if you go the other way the slow ascent on the Monsall trail is hardly noticeable (and the pedestrian traffic means speed is limited anyway).  Tons of good cafe stops on the way whichever route you choose!  Hassop Station is my favorite.  

IanEdward | 2 years ago
1 like

How did I know the token Scottish route was going to be bloody Gravelfoyle *again*! smiley

I sort of kid, I totally get that smooth, continuous gravel is actually a bit of a rarity in Scotland, I'm actually beginning to think my fast 29er is better suited for most routes, but there's some truly epic stuff further north.

May I suggest a Dalwhinnie Loop? You're unlikely to get more remote, there's some stunning scenery en-route, a perfect feed stop (and emergency bail out point) halfway round, and (again, by Scottish standards...) minimal hike-a-bike or even especially rough gravel.

Needless to say there are hundreds of equally good 'not Gravelfoyle' loops available but I'm trying to stick to the brief of 'US Style Gravel'

Steev replied to IanEdward | 2 years ago

I'm off to do a little bit of Gravelfoyle this weekend 

Appreciate that Dalwhinnie route though Ian, I've never been up that way with the bike so that's on the list for this year!

IanEdward replied to Steev | 2 years ago

Oh yeah, I don't doubt Gravelfoyle is a great route and if it was on my doorstep I'd do it loads, but as an answer to 'where to ride gravel in Scotland' all the time it gets boring!

Another classic in the area for the summer, albeit a bit rougher (the worst of the rough/boggy bits can be bypassed by sticking to road instead of climbing to the reservoir straight out of Killin). The section from Comrie to Callander is a beautiful gravel connector between two hilly little dead end tarmac roads.

IanEdward replied to Steev | 2 years ago
1 like

This one is more local to me, has a bit of a Paris-Roubaix feel to it as lots of wee gravel secteurs interlinked with quiet tarmac roads. Not to be underestimated!

and I think this has the makings of an absolute beauty of a loop except for the unfortunate 3km of boggy quad track in the middle of Rannoch Moor. Worth it to make a circuit out of it though.

Steev replied to IanEdward | 2 years ago

I'll need to check some of those out, I'm down Dunfermline so a couple of those would make a nice Saturday/Sunday ride.

IanEdward replied to Steev | 2 years ago
1 like

I lived in Kirkliston for a while, discovered loads of great stuff either side of the bridges although a lot of it was definitely more 'cyclocross' than 'gravel'... 




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