The Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner

updated July 2017

by Richard Peace

Since getting our copy, we’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve referred to this wonderful work. It is a truly useful planning map, so the publisher’s name (Excellent Books) is highly appropriate.wate

What we like

  • A really clear at-a-glance view of cycle routes, railway lines/stations and youth hostels, so you can see how they interconnect (or not) and what potential there is for A to B routes and for cycling once you’ve got to your destination. It’s given us inspiration and ideas for choosing a new area to cycle tour or a new base for day rides.
  • The other big plus is the generous overlap of mapping on both sides of the sheet, so you can plan a lot without having to keep flipping the map over.
  • Good quality paper and printing that should survive repeated folding and unfolding.

What it is

  • Two-sided UK map that folds up to a similar size to an Ordnance Survey map (i.e. 13 x 22.3 x 0.6cm or 8.8 x 5.2 x 0.25in).
  • Scale (approx): 6km to 1cm (9.5 miles to 1 inch).
  • North and Northern Ireland side: mainland Scotland plus all isles (including Orkney and Shetland), whole of Northern Ireland, Isle of Man, northern England (north of York).
  • South side: England (south of a line from Whitby-Darlington-Whitehaven), Isle of Man, Wales, Channel Isles. Also London (covering a rectangle including Uxbridge in the west to Northfleet in the east; Chingford in the north to Sutton in the south).
  • Clear mapping by omitting unnecessary details – so no roads at all, only coloured lines to show relevant routes.
  • Labelled routes to show Sustrans National and Regional Cycleway route numbers or designated names.
  • Routes colour-coded to show which are Sustrans National Cycle Network routes, Regional routes, sections of National Trails where bikes are allowed, Tour de France 2014 route, traffic-free trails, other named or un-named routes.
  • Additional colour coding indicates whether the route is traffic-free or on a road.
  • Canals and any towpath routes.
  • Mountain Bike Centres with waymarked trails (including family trails for easy pedalling).
  • Routes being planned.
  • Cross-referencing to panels of more details about routes – total distance, terrain and ease of cycling.
  • Summary of traffic-free trails and routes, indicating where a mountain bike is essential.
  • Some suggested touring routes from Sustrans.
  • Ferries on major routes (with info on seasonal and cycle restrictions).

What it isn’t

  • Not weatherproof – use it indoors.
  • Not for way-finding once cycling – so leave it at home.
  • Not a map of every cycle lane and recommended cycle route at town/city level.
  • Not a map of river/local ferry services.
  • 2nd edition no longer shows youth hostels or Camping and Caravanning Club campsites (see below for links).
  • Not a comprehensive campsite map – go to UK Campsites for this information
  • Not as up to date as it could be, as this 2nd edition was published May 2014

Ordering details:
Look for the 2nd edition (with a red cover, superceding the one with the yellow cover), published in May 2014, with ISBN 13: 9781901464313.
Published by Excellent Books, Wakefield, UK (ISBN: 978-1-901464-21-4), it is available from various online bookshops such as such as Foyles or Waterstones.

As every printed map and guide is out of date the minute it is published, do check up on things that can change – cycle routes are temporarily diverted due to roadworks, new routes added, youth hostels come and go. For Youth Hostel Association youth hostels and bunkhouses, ex-YHA hostels, and other budget accommodation in the UK, Hostelbookers is a good place to start. Not all YHA hostels seem to be handled by Hostelbookers, so try Hostelling International’s site too, or specific national youth hostel association sites (e.g. Scotland, Northern Ireland, England & Wales).

For Camping and Caravanning Club sites, visit the Club’s website, and note that if you are a lightweight camper, you’ll get the backpacker rate, and never be turned away. The actual tariffs doesn’t always show up on the website so contact individual sites for their rates.

Also, accommodation possibilities in Cheshire are on our Cheshire Cycleway accommodation page, with places to stay shown on our Cheshire Cycleway map.

An online guide to cycling in Cheshire, and further afield