Which are the most family-friendly cycling routes in Yorkshire?

Discover a world on wheels, and a world of fun, by taking your family out on a cycling trip through the historic and scenic routes of Yorkshire. Known for its stunning dales, tranquil parks, and ancient railway trails, this region is a paradise for those who enjoy the freedom and adventure of bike riding. But with so many routes to choose from, which are the most family-friendly cycling routes in Yorkshire? Let's take a look at some of the best options for a family bike tour in this beautiful corner of England.

1. The Solar System Cycle Route, York

In the historic city of York, you will find a cycle route that is truly out of this world. The Solar System Cycle Route is an engaging and educational journey through a scale model of our solar system.

Covering a distance of 6.4 miles, this route takes you on a ride from the Sun to Pluto, with each planet represented by a sculpture along the path. The route is flat and traffic-free, making it an ideal ride for families with children of all ages. On your ride, you can enjoy the picturesque landscape of the York countryside while learning about the universe beyond.

You can start your journey from the York Designer Outlet car park and follow the well-signposted route. There are plenty of picnic spots along the way, so pack some snacks and make a day of it.

2. The Spen Valley Greenway

Next on our list of family-friendly routes is the Spen Valley Greenway. This 7-mile long route is constructed on a disused railway line and is completely free from traffic.

The Greenway is a perfect pick if you're looking to breathe some fresh air while cycling amidst nature. Lined with a variety of artwork and boasting stunning views, the trail offers a visual treat for the riders. The trail also passes through a number of parks which are perfect for a picnic break or a quick game of catch.

Starting from Dewsbury and ending in Oakenshaw, the route is well signposted and flat, suitable for riders of varying abilities. You can hire bikes at the start of the trail if you don't have your own.

3. The Nidderdale Greenway

The Nidderdale Greenway offers a unique blend of nature and history, making it a fantastic family ride. This 4-mile long route follows the old Nidderdale railway line from Harrogate to Ripley.

The route features a mix of woodland, open fields, and the stunning Nidd Gorge. It is a traffic-free path, suitable for younger riders and ideal for families looking to explore the Yorkshire countryside.

The highlight of the ride is arriving at Ripley Castle, a 14th-century castle complete with beautiful gardens, tea rooms, and an ice cream shop. It provides a perfect spot for a family picnic and a chance to explore the castle grounds.

4. The Monsal Trail

The Monsal Trail is a popular and scenic cycling route in the Yorkshire Dales. This railway path covers a distance of 8.5 miles and offers a breathtaking view of the stunning limestone dales.

The trail is traffic-free and relatively level, making it an excellent choice for a family cycling trip. You will pass through several Victorian tunnels which are well lit and safe to ride through. There are picnic sites and pubs along the way, so you can stop for a bite to eat or a refreshing drink.

The trail begins at Bakewell and ends at Blackwell Mill in Chee Dale. Bike hire is available at both ends of the trail, making it a convenient option if you don't have your own bikes.

5. The Great Yorkshire Forest

For those who prefer off-road biking, the Great Yorkshire Forest offers numerous cycling routes. The forest is a haven for outdoor lovers, with its vast woodland, stunning views, and diverse wildlife.

There are several trails to choose from, each varying in length and difficulty. However, all are well-signposted and maintained. For families, the 2.5-mile long Adderstone Rigg route is a fantastic option. It is a circular route, starting and ending at the Dalby Forest Visitor Centre, and features a mix of forest roads and tracks.

Remember, it's a working forest, so be sure to stick to the marked trails and keep an eye out for logging operations. Bike hire is available at the visitor centre, and there are also plenty of picnic spots and a great play area for children.

6. Swale Trail, Yorkshire Dales National Park

One of the most recent additions to the Yorkshire Dales National Park's offering of cycle routes is the Swale Trail, a family-friendly route specifically designed for families and beginners.

This trail extends for 12 miles, starting from Keld and ending in Reeth. The Swale Trail is practically traffic-free, providing a safe environment for children and less confident cyclists. It follows the course of the River Swale, with the dramatic landscape of the Yorkshire Dales forming a majestic backdrop for your bike ride.

The route is predominantly gentle in gradient, with a few short, more challenging sections. Along the trail, there are numerous points of interest, including the historical mining village of Gunnerside and the stunning Kisdon Force waterfall. You'll find plenty of opportunities to take a break and enjoy a family picnic, as well as various places to hire bikes if you don't have your own.

7. Dalby Forest, North York Moors

For mountain bike enthusiasts, Dalby Forest in the North York Moors is an absolute must-visit. With trails of varying difficulty, it is a perfect choice for both beginners and more experienced riders.

The Green Route, a 6-mile circular trail, is a fantastic choice for families. It's a traffic-free, easy-going ride and takes you through the heart of the forest, with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore. You'll be riding past lush woodland, open moorland, and the peaceful Ellerburn Valley.

The trail starts and ends at the Low Dalby car park, where there's a visitor centre, bike hire facilities, and a café. The forest is also home to Go Ape, an outdoor adventure playground, providing a great way to end your family cycling adventure.


Yorkshire is not just the home of stunning dales, tranquil parks, and historical railway trails – it’s also a cyclist’s paradise. The topography and diverse landscapes make it an ideal place for family cycling. From the cosmic adventure of the Solar System Cycle Route in York to the woodland trails of Dalby Forest in the North York Moors, there is something here for every family.

Whether you're after a gentle ride, a challenging mountain bike route, or an educational journey, you're sure to find a cycle path that suits your family's needs in Yorkshire. So pack your picnic, strap on your helmets, and get ready to create unforgettable memories on these fantastic family-friendly cycle routes in Yorkshire.