The Tour de Manche offers a unique perspective on 1200km of varied seascapes either side of the English Channel. It passes through sites of exceptional natural interest, including the Bay of Morlaix, the Pink Granite Coast, the Bay of Mont St-Michel, the Jurassic Coast and Dartmoor National Park. This route also builds in part of the existing European cycle route EV4 along the French coast.
Although the most challenging of the three new routes, with a selection of testing but rewarding climbs for keen cyclists, it also offers sections of much easier riding for cyclists to relax and appreciate the ever-changing landscape.
Discover South West England
Tour de Manche can begin in Poole's busy harbour dating back to the 12th century and close to some of the best beaches in England (including Sandbanks) and Brownsea Island - a perfectly preserved wildlife haven and the birthplace of Scouting and Guiding.
Much of the route tracks the 95 miles (150km) of the truly stunning Jurassic Coast - England's first natural World Heritage Site - which traces 185 million years spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
The route also takes you to the Purbeck Peninsula as well as the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle before continuing through Thomas Hardy Country - the inspiration for many of his novels, poems and short stories, with Dorchester itself featuring as 'Casterbridge'.
Chesil Beach (all 18 miles / 29km and 18 billion pebbles worth) is one of Britain's most remarkable topographical features, and so too are Durdledoor and Lulworth Cove.Visit Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens to see rare and exotic species from all over the world.
Sidmouth first gained popularity in the Victorian era, and its splendid architecture remains, while the tiny fishing village of Beer is the place to sample a typical English pub or enjoy locally caught fish or crab.
Head further west to Exeter and its stunning cathedral, then follow the winding River Okement to Okehampton Castle, built soon after the Norman Conquest and converted into a sumptuous residence in the 14th century. Tavistock, on Dartmoor's edge, is steeped in the history of the tin mining and was also the birthplace of Sir Francis Drake.
Travelling deeper into Devon's open moorland you reach Meldon, a breathtaking reservoir 900 feet (480 metres) above sea level, offering stunning views; nearby is the iconic viaduct itself.
Passing through part of Dartmoor National Park you will come to the South West's deepest river gorge, Lydford Gorge - renowned for its natural beauty. Another delight awaits at Plym Bridge: a wooded valley that springs into life each year with a coverlet of primroses, bluebells and wild garlic. Steeped in myth and legend is the tiny church at Brentnor, perched impossibly atop its rocky outcrop.
At last, Plymouth hoves into view, in its time one of our greatest ports, launching the fleet that destroyed the Spanish Armada and the ships taking the Pilgrim Fathers west. Look out from the famous Plymouth Hoe, in the shadow of Smeaton's Tower, and you can visualise the ships that plied these waters down through the ages.
Discover Normandy & Brittany
Roscoff, at the heart of the 'Pink Granite Coast', is the perfect starting point for this leg of your journey: a town of culture, history and home to the beautiful 16th century belfry of Notre-Dame de Kroaz-Baz.
You make your way along the Bay of Morlaix, with its imposing Taureau Castle and island of Callot - one of Brittany's most important ornithology reserves.
Perros-Guirec's grandiose landscape is strewn with amazingly shaped rocks. Trace the coastline through the fishing town of Paimpol and onto the Bay de St Brieuc, and through dunes and heath to Cap Fréhel, with its breathtaking views over the nearby Channel Islands and the 'Emerald Coast'.
Soon, St Malo rises majestically out of the sea. Founded by the Welsh monk St Maclou, and built on a rocky island at the mouth of the Rance estuary, the history of this 'City of Corsairs' is testimony to the region's colourful seafaring past.
The route takes you through the lush landscapes of Normandy, onto Mortain and St Lô, before venturing through the Vire Valley with its rolling hills and spectacular gorges. In Mortain itself, the waters of the Cance and Cancon rivers cascade to create magnificent waterfalls amidst tranquil surroundings.
Contenin Regional National Park and Bessin Marshes are truly magical places for cycling. Passing through many beautiful towns and villages, you can sample the fruits of land and sea... cheese, ciders, seafood and, of course, Calvados apple brandy.
As you cycle South you traverse an ever-changing landscape of hedged fields, dunes and moorland, and the ancient port of Carentan that earned its place in history as the setting for some of the most bitter fighting of the Normandy landings.
En route to Cherbourg, you pass through Portbail and its beautiful golden beach, before arriving in the final French destination. Cherbourg itself boasts a wealth of culture with restaurants and bars as well as an intriguing history, much of which is displayed at the local museum Citie de la Mer.