Whether it’s the rugged Cornish coastline, mystical moors, winding lanes around picturesque lakes, or breathtaking views at the top of dramatic peaks, Britain has got it all – as long as you have got the legs and lungs to see it!
But a great deal of its stunning scenery is simply not accessible to the many of us who struggle with hills or marathon walks. And even if you are as fit as a fiddle, you might not want seven days of aching legs, pounding heads and sweat-drenched clothes. We all want to see the best views for ourselves – not just on postcards.
E-bikes are the perfect way to experience all that Britain has to offer as you have the freedom and fresh air of cycling with none of the challenges. A little light pedalling keeps the electric motor ticking along, and you will find yourself whizzing through country lanes at 15mph, gliding up hills and taking on headwinds with ease.
An electric bike means you can easily take the weight of younger kids in a tag-along or child seat, whilst still being able to keep up with the teenagers! Thanks to a series of new schemes throughout the UK, you can now hire e-bikes in most must-see British hotspots, with prices as little as £20 a day.
- LONDON – Cheaper than ‘Boris Bikes’ (the hire scheme introduced by London’s mayor), they are quicker in the traffic and generally a thrilling new way to experience the capital. There are a number of places around London to grab yourself an e-bike, including Hertz at Marble Arch. A great day out for even the most hardened urbanite – see the city in a whole new way.
- EXMOOR & THE QUANTOCKS – You might not catch a glimpse of the legendary Beast, but at least your bike won’t distract you from uncovering magical waterfalls, secret caverns and dramatic rock formations as you weave between coast and moor. Exmoor Unplugged also offers cycle routes for your smartphone.
- PEAK DISTRICT – If they can handle mountains in New Zealand, then e-bikes will get you around the Peak District no problem, giving you all the breathtaking views with none of the actual breath-taking. Even newbie cyclists will make it up 15% degree hills with ease.
- LAKE DISTRICT – The Electric Bicycle Network, who also run the Peak District scheme, also offer hire for the Lakes, leaving you as free as Wordsworth to pen poetry inspired by the landscape for your beloved. If the popular sights around Windermere and Coniston get too much, there are plenty of tea shops around to charge your bike and indulge in a homemade scone.
- BRECON BEACONS – Electric Wales now offer e-bike packages across the Brecon Beacons, where your hire comes with two nights’ accommodation, luggage transfers and local tour info. Literary types will enjoy the Hay-on-Wye break, encompassing the beautiful Wye Valley.
- SOUTH DOWNS – This scheme, with hire points in Petersfield and Midhurst, is still in its pilot stage, so be one of the first to explore England’s newest National Park by e-bike. Easy train links to London and Brighton if you want to combine your country day with a city night. Lots of hills, rocky paths, great ales and National Trust interests, including Jane Austen’s house in Chawton.
- SUFFOLK HERITAGE COAST – What could be more British than pebbles, piers, promenades and, of course, pubs, where you can stop to charge both your bike and your own batteries along the way. History buffs will enjoy the ancient castles and prehistoric burial grounds, while any twitchers will delight in the birdlife. Plenty of local ales, fish and chips and ice cream – you may not be sweating, but you still deserve a treat! See Just E-bikes for details of the 9 hire points.
- COTSWOLDS – Stunning as they are, the Cotswolds hills are not for the faint-hearted and even the fittest cyclist might prefer the ease of an e-bike. Hire your bike at the Painswick Rococo Garden, a hidden gem of a place, and head up to the Painswick Beacon bridleways.
- ISLE OF WIGHT – Step off your ferry and whizz around the Isle of Wight for the weekend. Small enough to take in most of the sights, Axcess offer two different bikes, one for the inexperienced rider and one for those who are ready for a bit more of a thrill.
- DEVON – Do the Devon Coast-to-Coast in style with an e-bike from Devon Cycle Hire. The Granite Way is almost all traffic-free, well-surfaced and includes castles, trains and Dartmoor ponies, so it is a great option for families who want to add child seat attachments and tag-alongs to their e-bikes.
Kate Marillat is a freelance writer specialising in ethical travel and renewable energy. She lives with her husband and young son in Hove, UK.