Explore Leicester & Leicestershire – by bike

Cyclists are welcome into Leicester City Centre, which is less than a 30-minute ride from any suburb, so if you’re planning a day out in Leicester, why not join up your stop-offs around the city by bike? There are quiet, cycle-friendly routes to and from the city centre, and many routes in the centre itself are traffic-free.

Several National Cycle Network routes cross Leicester & Leicestershire, the longest of which are Route 6 (London to the Lake District) and Route 63 (Burton upon Trent to Wisbech).

Near Ashby de la Zouch, in the heart of The National Forest, you’ll find Hicks Lodge Cycle Centre, which offers bike hire and miles of off-road trails suitable for cyclists of all abilities.

Maps & Guides

Use our journey planner to help you find your way – simply select whether you’d like the quickest, quietest or most balanced route.

We’ve also produced a series of free cycling maps covering the whole city and county to give you some exploration inspiration.

Free cycling maps

Leicestershire Cycling Maps coverage areaPick up a free cycling map from your local library, council offices or tourist information centre, while stocks last.


Choose from one of the six map areas below:-
(All maps are in PDF format)

See also regional maps and neighbouring counties.

Leicester Area:

Leicester is an exciting cosmopolitan city with a proud history stretching back 2000 years. The city is brimming with things to see and do, with state-of-the-art, award-winning venues including Curve, Highcross Shopping Centre and the National Space Centre; a fantastic calendar of events and festivals; renowned museums and galleries; a range of cuisines; and areas of natural beauty and ancient heritage.

Leicester’s cycle network comprises three colour-coded local routes into the city centre, and a fourth route following part of the outer ring road. Cyclists are welcome in the central pedestrian zone but must give way to other people and be prepared to walk at busy times.people cycling by a canal

Two traffic-free National Cycle Network routes also traverse the city. National Route 6 takes in beautiful Watermead Country Park, the Grand Union Canal, Abbey Park and the Great Central Way via Leicester City Centre. National Route 63 follows the line of the former Leicester to Swannington Railway into Leicester City Centre, via Glenfield, and continues through Victoria Park and Stoneygate towards rural eastern Leicestershire.

Secure indoor bike parking, showers and changing rooms are available in The Bike Park, Town Hall Square (open Mondays to Saturdays) and in the basement of Leicester Railway Station (open every day). For details of both facilities, see Public Cycle Parking.

This set of maps includes:-

Leicester North – city centre (enlarged) and northern suburbs, plus county areas of Kirby Muxloe, Glenfield, Ratby, Groby, Anstey, Birstall, Thurmaston, Scraptoft and Thurnby.

Leicester South – southern suburbs plus county areas of Leicester Forest East, Braunstone Town, Enderby, Narborough, Littlethorpe, Cosby, Glen Parva, Whetstone, Blaby, Countesthorpe, Oadby and Wigston.

(2014 edition)

loughborough-cycling-mapLoughborough Area:

The busy market town of Loughborough has an excellent network of cycle paths and routes connecting the town with its railway station, university and college as well as routes to local schools and workplaces.

The town centre plays host to a street market, which dates back to 1221, and several green spaces including Queen’s Park with its famous carillon. The park’s cycle paths lead to Charnwood Museum, a great place to delve into local history.

Loughborough lies on the edge of Charnwood Forest, part of the wider National Forest. This hilly area provides some challenging road riding, with fantastic views and many villages to choose from for a rest stop. Popular attractions within Charnwood Forest include Beacon Hill, formed after a volcanic eruption 560 million years ago, and Bradgate Park, once home to Lady Jane Grey, the ‘Nine Days Queen’.

North of Leicester, the River Soar and Grand Union Canal pass through the wetlands of Watermead Country Park, a haven for wildlife with excellent cycling and walking trails. This is where National Cycle Network Routes 6 and 48 combine with Leicester’s local Route 1, providing easy access to the City Centre from Syston, Birstall, Thurmaston and nearby villages.

(2015 edition) 

Melton Mowbray Area:

Nestled in rural north-eastern Leicestershire, historic Melton Mowbray is best known as the home of the pork pie, and for its Tuesday market, which dates back to 1077. National Cycle Route 64 (Market Harborough – Lincoln) passes through the heart of the town and Melton Carnegie Museum provides an interesting stop-off point.

Melton Mowbray has a wealth of historic and beautiful parks; all within easy reach of the town centre. Explore 140 acres of wildlife lakes and trails in Melton Country Park.

After indulging in pork pies and Stilton cheese, what better way to burn off a few calories than by following the Belvoir Ride to the north through numerous pretty villages? Enjoy fine views across the Vale of Belvoir with its magnificent castle.

Alternatively, head south on the Gartree Ride and visit Burrough Hill Iron Age fort; one of the most striking and historic features in the local landscape. At Little Dalby you can pick up The National Byway, which journeys 3,300 miles along some of the UK’s most attractive and peaceful rural lanes.

(New 2015 edition)

Market Harborough & Lutterworth Area:

Market Harborough is a quintessential English town in the Welland Valley, and home to the ‘Millenium Mile’, linking the town centre’s shops with beautiful Welland Park.

The centre of Market Harborough has excellent cycling links, connecting schools, shops and other services with the town’s railway station, and onto routes 6 and 64 of the National Cycle Network. Route 6 itself winds out of the town along the Grand Union Canal towards Leicester, taking in Foxton Locks: a staircase of ten locks and a great refreshment stop during a bike ride.

(2013 edition)

Hinckley & Bosworth Area:

The towns of Hinckley and Market Bosworth are surrounded by many of Leicestershire’s prettiest villages and rolling countryside. Hinckley has excellent cycling facilities including connections with nearby Earl Shilton, Barwell and Burbage as well as routes around the town centre and railway station.

The area is home to one of the country’s most important historical sites – Bosworth Battlefield and its award winning Heritage Centre. The site includes some fantastic walking and cycling routes, and the Tithe Barn Restaurant is a great place to go for a rest stop.

Close by is Ashby Canal, with waterside routes and the Battlefield Line heritage railway.

Nestled further east on the edge of Charnwood Forest is Thornton Reservoir, another of Leicestershire’s great leisure cycling routes including a marked woodland track.

(New 2015 edition – online only)

Note: printed version last updated June 2013.

Coalville Area & The National Forest:

Coalville, and the nearby historic market town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch, lie in The National Forest, a 200 square mile forest in the making, covering parts of Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

A short ride south from Coalville town centre, you’ll find the 1620s House and Garden at Donington le Heath. Immerse yourself in an early 17th century experience and take a walk back in time in the wonderful, fully furnished house owned by a family living in the shadow of the Gunpowder Plot.

In Moira, at the heart of the forest, the award-winning Conkers visitor attraction offers a unique mix of indoor and outdoor activities for all the family.

Nearby you’ll also find family-friendly trails and bike hire at the Hicks Lodge National Forest cycle centre.Hicks Lodge

Coalville’s excellent cycling network connects the town centre with Snibston Country Park and Century Theatre, Stephenson College, local schools, the community hospital, Bardon Industrial Estate and surrounding villages. National Cycle Route 52 also passes through the town.

To the north, Route 52 meets Route 6, where you can head west towards Worthington and join the Cloud Trail, a pleasant 13 mile route into Derby, following a former railway line and the Trent and Mersey Canal. Alternatively, take Route 6 to Belton, from where you can continue to Loughborough, or join Route 15 for East Midlands Airport.

To the south, Route 52 follows the Bosworth Trail, where you’ll pass Sence Valley Forest Park, another former colliery site, transformed into a diverse haven for wildlife.

Please note: Snibston Discovery Museum, referred to in the printed version of the map, has closed. The country park and Century Theatre – Britain’s oldest surviving travelling theatre – remain open.

(2015 edition)

Regional maps and neighbouring areas

Cycling trails

In addition to the network of cycle routes shown on our free maps, there are many trails within Leicester & Leicestershire’s parks, nature reserves and open spaces for you to enjoy:-people cycling by a canal

  • Leicestershire County Council Country Parks. You’ll find great cycling trails within many of the County Council’s country parks, including Beacon Hill, Watermead North and the Ashby Woulds Trail. Download visitor maps and guides from our website.
  • Leicester Riverside.  A 12-mile green corridor running through the city along the River Soar and Grand Union Canal. It is regionally important for wildlife and comprises a network of open spaces, nature reserves and parks. It has a range of cycle paths and footpaths, connecting different parts of the city and is a focal point for regeneration.
  • Leicester Route 1 - places to visit (PDF). Leaflet showing the numerous attractions easily accessible from Leicester’s Cycling Route 1, including the National Space Centre and Great Central Railway. Ride through the beautiful Abbey Park and follow the River Soar and Grand Union Canal through Watermead Country Park, out to Birstall, Thurmaston, Syston or Cossington.
  • National Forest Cycle Centre. Hicks Lodge, near Ashby de la Zouch, is a fantastic day out for the whole family – from budding cyclists to the more confident. Set in beautiful young woodland at the heart of The National Forest, it has been designed with the whole family in mind with a variety of trails to explore. Includes on-site cycle hire and café.
  • Heart of the National Forest including Conkers. The walking and cycling network in the heart of the National Forest provides a route around a picturesque lake and links to local tourist attractions with bird spotting sites and peaceful trails through beautiful woodlands. The route also links into the local residential areas of Swadlincote and Moira, making everyday journeys by foot and bike safer and easier. The route also forms part of the National Cycle Network, Route 63. (Published by Sustrans)
  • Permissive paths. Search for walks, rides and areas of open access in Leicestershire and Rutland provided under the Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Environmental Stewardship schemes.

Cycling clubs

Joining a club is a great way to get more from your cycling and meet new people at the same time. There’s a whole host of friendly groups to join across Leicester & Leicestershire, suitable for all ages and abilities.

bc-go-ride-logoGo-Ride clubs for under 18s

Go-Ride is British Cycling’s development programme for young people aged 5 to 18*. Clubs deliver coaching activities in traffic-free environments.

There are numerous Go-Ride and Go-Ride-accredited clubs across Leicester & Leicestershire, some of which are attached to adult cycling clubs, whilst others are stand-alone.

*Note: age ranges vary. Please check club websites for full details.

** Please e-mail choosehowyoumove@leics.gov.uk for details.

Children can use any type of bike, so long as it’s in good condition, and a helmet must be worn. Sessions teach the necessary skills to make riders more competent, safer cyclists, and promote good health through fun activities that are easy to learn.

Women’s Cycling

lwvLeicester Women’s Velo is a Cycling Club organised by women, for women of Leicester, Leicestershire and beyond. It was initiated by a group of Breeze champions who were (and still are) passionate about encouraging more women onto bikes, whatever their ability.

Wheels for All

leicester-wfaLeicester Wheels for All is an inclusive cycling club for anyone with differing needs. The Wheels for All initiative is a nationally recognised programme that embraces all children and adults with disabilities and differing needs, to engage in a quality cycling activity. By using specially adapted cycles, the activities are both physically and mentally stimulating and above all fun for everyone involved.

Guided rides

Not only is cycling good for your health and the environment, it’s a great way to socialise, and many people find cycling more fun if they team up with a friend or group.Sky_Ride_Local_600

Throughout the year, the City and County Councils, in partnership with British Cycling, run free guided group rides for all abilities through the HSBC Lets Ride programme. There’s also a dedicated programme of rides for women through British Cycling’s Breeze network.

A number of free family cycling events are held during the summer months each year, including HSBC City Ride Leicester on the August bank holiday weekend.

HSBC Lets Ride also offer a free social network for cyclists – Ride Social – offering users the opportunity to arrange their own informal bike rides or join rides created by others. Ride Social is also a place for cycling groups to promote their rides to a wider audience.

NB: Ride Social rides are not organised by British Cycling (BC) or led by BC Ride Leaders.

Cycling courses

cycling-coursesAre you new to cycling or want to brush up on your skills? Find out about a variety of courses on offer from the city and county councils, including:

  • Adult cycling courses
  • Free Bikeability courses in schools
  • Go-Ride clubs for children
  • Cycle maintenance classes

Please visit our Everyday Cycling page and scroll down to ‘Cycling Courses’ for full details.