Premier Inn, as you may be aware from its current TV ad campaign, is pushing its cyclist-friendly credentials, with all its 750-plus hotels across the UK welcoming bicycles – and the people who ride them.
Now, the hotel operator has gone back over the past year’s worth of posts on Instagram to find out which locations emerge as the Top 10 destinations for cyclists in the UK, identifying which have the most posts on the social network tagged as relating to cycling.
The result is a mix of places, some particularly popular with mountain bikers, others with road cyclists or cycle tourists and, in one case, a city where the bicycle is, for many, simply the way they choose to get around every day.
Here’s the list – words are from Premier Inn, pictures are from Alamy and supplied by the chain (though we will clarify that this is not paid content).
1. Yorkshire Dales
With over 4,836 posts, the number 1 most Instagrammed cycling spot in the UK is the Yorkshire Dales, and with the infamous Tour de France passing through the Dales in 2014, it’s no surprise that it’s made it to the top of the list. The Dales are home to some of the finest landscape in the country, with heather clad moorlands, valleys full of meadows and many lovely villages and towns to explore along the way. A cycling trip to the Yorkshire Dales wouldn’t be complete without visiting one of the many waterfalls around the Dales, check out the Aysgarth Falls for one of the most beautiful sights you can share on Instagram.
2. Richmond Park
Richmond Park in London comes in as the second most Instagrammed cycling spot in the UK, with 2,987 cyclists sharing photos. The main trail route takes you on a 12km journey around the circumference of the park and offers some challenging sharp climbs as well as long gradual inclines. It’s no doubt though that the parks popularity with the Instagram cycling community is in part also due to its roaming wild dear and wildlife. Not only are the surroundings great, but the family-friendly nature of the park makes it perfect for those looking for a cycle that would suit all ages and abilities.
Far less rural than some of the others in the top 10, but no less Instagram worthy, Cambridge comes in as the 3rd most Instagrammed cycling spot in the country. Known as one of the best cities for road cycling due to its extensive cycle routes and flat land, Cambridge is filled with picturesque buildings and narrow streets that are just waiting to be photographed. 1,335 times in the last 12 months, to be exact.
One of the most popular rides follows the River Cam, where the Cambridge University rowing team is often found training, and with beautiful riverside views it’s not surprising this was one of the most Instagrammed locations.
With over 1,189 Instagram posts taken by cyclists, Dartmoor National Park comes in as the 4th most Instagrammed cycling spot in the UK and it’s easy to see why. Its vast moorland is home to forests, rivers, wetlands and even wild Dartmoor ponies; it’s one of the last great wildernesses in the UK.
There’s some great cycling routes to explore both on-road and off-road with stunning views to snap along the way. The Princetown Railway route, for example, takes you across 30km of disused railway tracks, passing granite quarries and finishing at the beautiful Burrator Reservoir, a hot spot for scenery lovers.
5. Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
The second National Park on our list, Loch Lomand & Trossachs National Park is centred around Loch Lomond, a stunning freshwater loch which boasts the largest inland stretch of water in Great Britain. With beautiful waterside scenery and towering snowy mountains, it’s no surprise that the cycling spot has been shared on Instagram more than 887 times by cyclists in the last 12 months.
6. Peak District
Perfect for the more advanced cyclist who doesn’t mind a gradient or two, the Peak District is the 6th most Instagrammed cycling spot in the UK. The area is extremely popular for both road cyclists and mountain bikers, 867 cyclists have posted pictures of the scenery in the last 12 months. Cyclists who are able to climb its steep hills, reap the rewards in terms of scenery at the summit and can expect to see lots of wildlife on route. If you’re thinking about taking a cycle trip to the Peak District, make sure you try out the Carsington Loop, an 8 mile off-road route around the beautiful Carsington Water.
7. Fort William
It’s no surprise that the beautiful scenery of Fort William in Scotland features on our list. As the gateway to Ben Nevis and home to one of the best mountain biking locations in the UK, cyclists have shared the views from around Fort William and Ben Nevis 833 times. From cross-country, to downhill and road cycling, Fort William has the benefit of being a great location for many different styles of cycling.
8. Box Hill, Surrey
Perhaps the most famous of UK cycling spots, Box Hill in Surrey was thrown into the spotlight by the London 2012 Olympics, which used the hill as part of the course for the cycling road race. As the 8th most shared cycling spot, pictures of Box Hill have been shared over 807 times on Instagram by cyclists. The picturesque route takes you throughout the Surrey Hills and offers great views from the summit of Box Hill, where many of the photos were taken.
9. South Downs, Sussex
Sandwiched between London and the South Coast, the rolling hills of the South Downs were awarded National Park status in 2009. The beautiful views from Devil’s Dyke to Ditchling Beacon have been captured by 801 cyclists in the last 12 months, making it the 9th most Instagrammed location. The South Downs are perfect for riders of all ability levels; for those looking for a gentle, short ride, the Meon Valley trail offers 10 miles of level riding following an old rail way line, with stunning countryside scenery to take pictures of. Or, for those who are looking for a longer, more challenging ride, the South Downs Way spans 99 miles from Eastbourne to Winchester, but be warned it can be rather hilly!
10. Brecon Beacons
With over 780 posts from cyclists on Instagram, the Brecon Beacons makes it into the list of most snapped cycling spots, coming in at 10th place. This Welsh national park is home to towering green mountains and breath-taking views that make it impossible not to reach for your phone and capture the moment. Perhaps more popular for mountain bikers than road cyclists, the area is best explored on two wheels than any other mode of transport, with towpaths, lanes and hillside tracks all waiting to be discovered.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.