From Kielder to Kinross, there’s a hygge-ready shelter for your next gravel adventure.
Fancy escaping on your gravel or cyclo-cross bike for an extended weekend? Any B&B, van or tent is okay, but staying on the trails in the autumn and winter feels like a bit of a damp squib. We’ve found the the cosiest hideaways to relax in and the best gravel rides and forests to explore.
The Sky Den
Kielder Forest, Northumberland
Built in 2013, and featured on the Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces, the Sky Den is a triangular pod set at canopy level with a spectacular opening roof. There are all the amenities you'll need in the mini kitchen, a wet room, plus all bedding is provided. The den sleeps four and there is plenty of extra space on the deck for dinner, or open the roof and gaze at the stars.
Kielder Forest has become home to the oversubscribed 200km 'Dirty Reiver' event. The Forest has a limitless web of access roads, on which the event is staged, but you can ride the roads all year round. If you retrace the tracks of the Dirty Reiver, you'll arrive at the Sky Den after 96km, an almost perfect time to stop and relax.
Husthwaite, North York Moors
With fantastic views stretching out across 96km of the North York Moors, Rufus’ Roost is a luxury stay in a chalet-style cabin, set amongst the trees on stilts. The three bedroom tree-house has an outdoor Jacuzzi, ideal for soothing aching muscles after a day exploring the moors.
Rufus' Roost is on the edge of the moors, and as you travel east you’ll cross through forests, wooden bridges, open heath, and spectacular mountains. It is easy to see why the moors has its own gravel event, Yorkshire True Grit.
The Ferry Waiting Room
Loch Lomond, The Trossachs
The Trossachs is a gravel rider's paradise, with endless estate tracks and wooded glens, braes and lochs to explore. The National Park, about an hour from Glasgow, is blessed with beautiful scenery from start to finish.
The Ferry Waiting Room was once, as the name suggests, a ferry terminal. It was rescued on the way to the scrap yard and has been converted to a cosy bolthole with adjoining bothy. From the huge windows, you can admire the purple heather and take in mountain view of Ben More.
Cars are banned at Puckshipton Treehouse, which is perfect for two wheeled adventures. The tree-house is set on a wooden deck with sleeping pod and mini lounge and is suspended in the trees, reachable only by a fluted walkway.
The tree-house is a few miles east of The Ridgeway, one of the oldest roads in Britain, now a pot-holded gravel trail open only to cyclists and walkers and is a designated national trail like the South Downs Way or Pennine Bridlepath. The ancient road stretches an impressive 140km from across the Chilterns and North Wessex. Puckshipton Treehouse is a short pedal from the end (or start). To the east of Puckshipton is North Wessex Downs, chock full of bridlepaths, trails, and car-free paths that you can explore, too.
Edale Valley, Peak District
Isolated deep in the Edale Valley, there are no public roads to access the bunkhouse. Instead, you will need to walk or ride there via a single narrow track. This rural hideaway is owned and maintained by the National Trust and is at the very start of the Pennine Way. From the bunkhouse, there are hundreds of kilometres of gravel, fire roads, and trails to ride, and it's a short ride to the popular stargazing haven, Mam Tor.
The bunkhouse has space for 20 adults, a wood burning log fire, showers, but limited kitchen facilities. So pick up some snacks before you finish your gravel ride — there are plenty of pubs in the nearby village of Edale.
Ride: the Pennine Way or this route from Olympian Nick Craig
Stay: from £220 per night (sleeps 20)
Hexham, Pennine Way
Greg’s Hut is a step back from luxury compared with the other options on our list, but does claim the honour of being Britain's highest Bothy and is at the opposite end of the Pennine Way to the Dalehead Bunkhouse. Bothies are free to stay in and this one, despite being remote, is well maintained and features a log fire. It sits on the peak near Cross Fell. Stop at Greg's Hut if you fancy tackling the northernmost section of the Peninne Way, or riding an out and back loop and staying overnight in the bothy. You will need to bring your own sleeping gear, though.
Ride: the Pennine Way
Stay: the Mountain Bothy Association
YHA Burley, New Forest
An alternative to the traditional camping tent, the YHA has built three large wooden pods at their site in the New Forest. The pods sleep four; bedding is providing and the pods are heated. Inside the main house are amenities for cooking and you don't need to be a YHA member to stay. The New Forest is home to many gravel events, thanks to its miles of car-free trails and lush greenery.
Clavell Tower stands above Kimmeridge Bay, overlooking a grand sweep of Dorset coastline. Here is the Jurassic Coast, England's first natural World Heritage site, and the South West Coastal Path runs past the door with a myriad of bridlepaths you can tackle.
This area of Dorset is home to the Dorset Gravel Dash, a 100-mile event that takes place in the summer and starts and finishes in Swanage. The route of the dash goes straight past the tower, too.
Champing in Fordwich
First there was camping, then there was glamping, and now there's champing. Champing came about when looking for long-term, sustainable uses for stunning churches that are no longer used for regular worship. Cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust, these magnificent buildings are some of the greatest architectural wonders our country has to offer, and often come with fascinating histories, too. So what better way to appreciate one than to stay in it?
Camp beds, tea/coffee, cushions and breakfast is provided, but you will need to bring your own bedding or sleeping bag. Fordwich sits in the heart of East Kent. You can ride down to the coast and follow the coastal path down to Rye and back, or head on Cycle Network route 18.
Stay: from £49 per night