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The Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner



Information-dense map with a vast network of UK traffic-free or low-traffic routes
Vast network of traffic-free routes on one map
The whole UK on one map
Great adjunct to online planners
Over-reliant on Sustrans network
Needs more minor roads
Sheer amount of detail can be confusing

At every product is thoroughly tested for as long as it takes to get a proper insight into how well it works. Our reviewers are experienced cyclists that we trust to be objective. While we strive to ensure that opinions expressed are backed up by facts, reviews are by their nature an informed opinion, not a definitive verdict. We don't intentionally try to break anything (except locks) but we do try to look for weak points in any design. The overall score is not just an average of the other scores: it reflects both a product's function and value – with value determined by how a product compares with items of similar spec, quality, and price.

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With almost all the UK's cycle routes on one double-sided map, The Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner is a really useful companion to online map systems for longer rides.

Online route-planning sites are great, but sometimes you need a bigger view than they provide. The Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner gives you that wide-angle view. The Route Planner gathers all the UK's designated cycling routes into one map, from the Sustrans National Cycle Network to less-publicised routes like Swans Way in Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. The only significant network I can think of that's missing is the National Byway, perhaps because its routing on minor roads doesn't fit the Route Planner's traffic-free emphasis.

2023 The Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner 4th Edition - map detail 3.jpg

Unlike a lot of online maps, railway lines and stations are clearly shown here so you can plan train-assisted rides too. Canalside paths are also marked in three degrees of usability: no cycling, NCN cycle route and possibly cycleable.

I do like that 'possibly'. For me, the most memorable rides involve an element of exploration. That can be just riding a new route, but it's exciting to head down a road and not be sure it's actually passable.

If you like a little bit more certainty, you might find the UK Cycle Route Planner is over-reliant on the Sustrans National Cycle Network. Even Sustrans itself has admitted some of the network isn't fit for purpose, and while some of the worst sections have been removed from the official network there's still a high degree of uncertainty when it comes to just what sort of surface quality you should expect. Some of the tracks marked on here are barely passable by mountain bike. For example, there's a section of the Icknield Way south-west of Thetford – marked here among 'cyclable national trails & signed mountain bike routes' – that was six inches deep in sand when I tried to ride it a few years ago.

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On the other hand, one of my local trails, Worsted Street Roman Road, is marked as a mountain bike track when it's quite doable on a hybrid or a road bike with 28mm tyres, especially in dry weather.

> 4 reasons why your next bike should be a touring bike

Relying on the Sustrans network brings another problem – that it ignores enormous numbers of great minor roads. The UK's best cycling is on minor roads, because the vast majority of them have proper hard surfaces (albeit battered ones after 13 years of Tory neglect) but very little traffic as drivers stick to A and B roads.

> GPS cycle route planning made easy – how to plan and follow a bike route

The Planner does have some roads marked as 'suggested minor road links' and this is something I'd like to see a lot more of, though I suspect marking all of them would make many areas almost into solid masses of purple. Maybe Excellent Books can set up a method of people submitting approved routes, or use heatmaps from Garmin or Strava that in my experience tend to do a good job of steering away from the busiest roads.

2023 The Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner 4th Edition - map detail 1.jpg

It could be I'm asking for serious scope creep here. The UK Cycle Route Planner focuses on traffic-free routes and does about as good a job as it's possible to do of collecting them all on one map.


I don't think more route information could be crammed into a single map without it having to be unfeasibly large. If your cycling life involves planning longer rides, this map could be a big help.

Who should buy the UK Cycle Route Planner?

If you want to plan longer routes than is easily feasible on a typical online map tool, this is for you.


Information-dense map with a vast network of UK traffic-free or low-traffic routes

If you're thinking of buying this product using a cashback deal why not use the Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website test report

Make and model: The Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner 4th Edition

Size tested: n/a

Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

Excellent Books says:

All of the UK's signed cycle routes together on one map – National Cycle Network and other waymarked cycle routes. Double-sided to cover England, Wales and Scotland.

Brings all of the UK's signed cycle routes together on one map.

Uses the outstanding quality and detail of Times Comprehensive Atlas mapping, Sustrans' National Cycle Network and other popular cycle trails are featured and defined – traffic free or on road.

Family cyclists will love the listed traffic free trails.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Page Size: 120 x 240 mm

Publisher: Excellent Books

Edition: 4th edition, January 2023

Binding: Sheet map (folded)

Illustrations: Colour mapping

Weight: 120g

Rate the product for quality of construction:

Tidily printed and folded with the cover neatly glued on.

Rate the product for performance:

Delivers a bunch of useful information in one big ol' map.

Rate the product for durability:

It's made from paper so best not used as an impromptu umbrella, groundsheet or shield against gunfire.

Rate the product for weight (if applicable)

Paper construction helps keep the gram-count down.

Rate the product for comfort (if applicable)

Well-finished edges seem to reduce risk of paper cuts.

Rate the product for value:

Other cycling-orientated paper maps are in the same ballpark, but just a tenner to have all this information in one place is a bargain!

Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose

Very well.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

Lots of route possibilities in one gert big map.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

Lack of National Byway; more recommended minor roads would be good.

How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on

As far as I can tell the UK Cycle Route Planner is unique. Other cycling-orientated paper maps are in the same ballpark.

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your overall score

This is a very good idea, well executed.

Overall rating: 8/10

About the tester

Age: 56  Height: 5ft 11in  Weight: 100kg

I usually ride: Scapin Style  My best bike is:

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: Most days  I would class myself as: Expert

I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, mtb,

John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.

He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.

Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for Along with founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.

John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.

He joined in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

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