The United Kingdom is a great place to cycle in general as there's plenty of small country roads and interesting new small towns to discover, perhaps much like the rest of Europe, as opposed to the United States, which likely has some huge infinitely long straight roads with a lot of nothing in between.
Of particular interest is the large amount of airfields and small air raid shelters in the fields, an ominous reminder of world war 2. The airfields are in various states, from functional military fields, many converted to civilian usage, some have barely any tarmac left but still see usage. And some were just completely abandoned and decayed and became recreation grounds and farms. The UK is therefore also a great place to be if you want to learn to fly as a hobby!
Great set of long distance routes.
They are very well chosen for their high safety and level interest, so you can just go into them without putting much thought into it.
Sometimes they go a bit too much on the side of safety, making certain transitions annoying, but in general the selection is spot on.
The routes do sometimes go on a bit of gravel, so they are most adequate for hybrid bikes rather than road bikes, although road bikes would be able to to much of them. A more road-bike dedicated possibility is the The National Byway.
Note however that there are many many other local routes which are not in the network, but arguably equally, or more worthwhile.
Their diginal map distribution mechanisms are a bit shitty and sometimes asks you to pay for certain formats, which is hard to understand given that the maintainer of those maps, the Ordnance Survey appears to be public... github.com/cirosantilli/cirosantilli.github.io/issues/61 "How to see the Sustrans National Cycle Network on Google maps?"
Googling "National Cycle Netowrk KML" leads to: data-sustrans-uk.opendata.arcgis.com/ from which we can download the KML. gis.stackexchange.com/questions/216770/how-to-open-kml-file-in-google-maps-for-android then shows how to make that viewable on Google Maps by going through www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/?hl=en on the browser. TODO 2021-11:
  • KML: nothing happens after the upload finishes, the "Select button remains grayed out
  • CSV: you need to "Choose a column to title your markers", but all I tried give "Oops! We're having trouble finding those locations. Did you pick the correct location columns?"
"Ralph Hughes" www.linkedin.com/in/ralph-hughes-501474121 is listed as the creator/responsible of the exports, but can't find his email. Sent an email to gissupport@sustrans.org.uk and he did reply a few days later that they are aware of the issue, and are particularly trying to reach out to Google about it. Great news! GPSPrune 20.2-1 can open the KML however, so that file can't be entirely wrong.
OpenStreetMaps has them on by default though if you just click "Cycle Map" layer. It is not as incredibly detalied as the Ordnance Survey one, e.g. does not show which side of the street to ride on, but still, is very good.
It runs along quiet roads, rather than a mixture of roads and tracks like the National Cycle Network, making it more appropriate for road bikes.
TODO interactive online app? Ahh, those charities that try to make money by individual transactions... when they die, nothing will be left of all their work.
Edit: noticed that it is on by default on OpenStreetMaps web UI under the "Cycle Map" layer marked at "NB".

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