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.
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.
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.
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 road.cc Top Cashback page and get some top cashback while helping to support your favourite independent cycling website
Make and model: The Ultimate UK Cycle Route Planner 4th Edition
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
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
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 road.cc?
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.
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,
Umm what ? Do you faint when you travel more than 25 kph?
Please correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I've read the Hammerhead will not route you from address to address without bringing your phone into...
If I were you, and of course this is an opinion, I would go with the gravel bike. Gravel bikes are more capable than a road bike, and while a road...
Only because far more people drive cars than ride bikes....
There is talk of speed limit geofencing on hired escooters.
I agree with you. I'd happily see JSO chained to railings or throwing themselves under a racehorse or going on hunger strike. Those acts would...
Can't blame them for being angry about this, I mean, you wouldn't want to walk or cycle very far wearing these...
Remco gets what remco wants
I purchased an Orbea Terra H30 1x last summer as my winter bike. I changed wheels to a reasonabley priced carbon set, and added GP5000's in a 32....