Cycling in the Lake District is very popular, with thousands travelling to Cumbria in the northwest of the UK each year to cycle the Lakes. The Lake District’s passes are an enormous draw for those that want to challenge themselves and with additional cycle trails opening and advances in e-bikes, cycling in the Lake District is also becoming accessible for more leisurely cyclists.

Whether you’re after a Lake District cycling holiday that involves tackling some of the most challenging hill climbs in the UK or you’re looking for a relaxing ride on country lanes through beautiful fells and tranquil villages, you can find it here.  Cycling in Cumbria and the Lake District is a gorgeous, scenic experience, with plenty of options for those with children too.

We created this guide as a starting point for anyone keen to cycle in the Lakes District and have been delighted to update it with the expert help of local cyclist Phil Thomas. Phil is from Kendal in the Lake District and set up E-Bike Safaris with a mission to make cycling the Lake District more accessible to visitors.

Read on for suggestions for cycling routes, where to stay and bike hire.

 

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What’s special about cycling in the Lakes?

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK in which to cycle. From country lanes to iconic climbs, the scenery is spectacular, and makes for excellent cycling territory.

The Lake District’s cycling climbs are renowned and they’re not for the faint-hearted. The Struggle, near Ambleside, is exactly what the name suggests! Likewise, climbs such as Hardknott, Wrynose, Kirkstone, Whinlatter and Honister Passes are relatively short in distance, but are incredibly steep with maximum gradients of well over 20%.

The locals say that you can call yourself a proper cyclist if you can ride these passes without having to unclip at least once on these brutal gradients! Or you can choose to ignore the bravado and just enjoy yourself, whether that’s by taking it easy on the way up on a regular bike or getting some electrical assistance.

Where is the Lake District located within the UK?

The Lake District lies within the county of Cumbria in northwest England. This National Park and UNESCO World Heritage Site covers nearly 2,500 square metres of rugged and beautiful terrain. It boasts both the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike, as well as some of the deepest lakes in the UK.

The Lake District National Park is bordered by the Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines to the east and the Irish Sea to the west. The Scottish border is just an hour’s drive to the north.

Part of the attraction of a cycling trip to the Lake District is that it’s a popular summer holiday destination and so it has lots of tourist facilities. Non cyclists can take part in the traditional Lake District attractions such as fell walking, sailing, paddle boarding or fishing.

Lake District cycling holidays: where to start

All metrics in this article are approximate.

Picking your Lake District cycling routes is important for deciding where to base yourself. The Lake District has routes for all if you know where to look for them.

Below we start with the climbs and harder routes. However, while many of the longer, challenging routes of interest to road cyclists involve hills, there are also a range of easier, more leisurely cycle routes in the Lake District.

In addition, the Lake District’s traffic free cycle routes around Lake Windermere and Grasmere are fabulous. Both Grizedale and Whinlatter forests have innumerable single tracks and trails, although you will probably need a hybrid or (ideally) a mountain bike.

Lake District cycling climbs

Cycling in the Lake District offers a fantastic opportunity to test your legs. There are half a dozen well-known climbs with the hardest being Hardknott Pass and Wrynose Pass.

Hardknott Pass is a 2.2 kilometre climb at an average gradient of 13% with some of the turns reaching around 30%! The nearby Wrynose Pass has a slightly longer ascent with an average gradient of 11% and a maximum of 25% in places… More details below!

The Struggle

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The brilliantly named climb that is “The Struggle” must be the most well-known hill climb in Britain. It starts on the edge of Ambleside and finishes at the top of Kirkstone Pass, which is the highest pass in the Lake District. The climb is 4.2 kilometres long with an elevation gain of 340 metres and a gradient of over 20% in places.

It is a steep climb from the start, weaving through drystone walls and green moorland. There’s a slightly easier mid section and then a series of sharp turns to the finish. The road surface on the way up is also part of the challenge.

At the top you find yourself at the Kirkstone Pass Inn with breathtaking views as you look back towards Lake Windermere. The climb became famous following the 2016 Tour of Britain, ridden by Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Honister Pass

The Honister Pass is one of the most spectacular cycling routes in the Lake District and can be tackled from both directions, approaching from Buttermere on the west or Borrowdale on the east. Either direction will provide you with amazing views and are equally as challenging, with gradients of up to 25%.

Buttermere side

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The approach from the Buttermere side is the longer of the two ascents, at 3.6 kilometres, and elevation gain of 240 metres. Starting at the picturesque Buttermere village and Lake, the first half of the climb is relatively gentle, with the challenging last two kilometres taking you to the Honister Quarry and Slate Mine.  The looming sides of Buttermere Fell form an imposing backdrop as you grind you way to the summit. Here there is a café and slightly further along are splendid views of Borrowdale Valley and the surrounding rugged fells.

Borrowdale side

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To approach from the Borrowdale side, the climb starts from the little village of Seatoller and is about 2.25 kilometres long.  From this direction you immediately encounter gradients of over 20%, easing off for a while just after one kilometre, before another challenging section before the Honister Quarry and the top of the pass. The hard work will be rewarded with the stunning views in both directions.

Wrynose Pass (via Little Langdale)

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Wrynose Pass is one of my favourite climbs, particularly as you can combine it with such a range of other routes, including a loop north up past Blea Tarn, or west along the beautiful and tranquil Duddon Valley or Hardknott Pass further west.  But be assured, it’s a challenge!

Starting from Fell Foot Farm, west of Little Langdale, the climb is 2.5 kilometres with an elevation gain of 280m.  After a fluctuating start, from the one kilometre point the climb ranges between 15% to 20% incline for most of the way, with a maximum of about 24% on a hairpin bend towards the top.

At the top of the pass, as well as the memorable views, you’ll find the Three Shires Stone, which marks the point where Westmorland, Cumberland and Lancashire counties once met.

Hardknott Pass

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Hardknott might not be the longest climb in the Lake District, but it is reputed to be the hardest cycling climb in the Lake District and the steepest road hill climb in Britain. Depending on the route you are taking, you can climb from either side.

If you are riding it simply for the challenge of the climb, approaching from Eskdale in the west is the more challenging option. The distance is 2.2 kilometres and elevation of 280 metres. Starting about two kilometres east of the Woolpack Inn, it is a brutally tough start, straight into 25% slopes and a cattle grid, before a beautiful winding climb through the fells, reaching a gradient of over 30% on the final harpin bend.

From the top of the pass you look back over stunning views of Eskdale Valley and the sea in the distance. Now it’s just a matter of getting safely down the brutal descent…

Newlands Hause Pass

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Your first ride up Newlands Hause Pass (AKA Newlands Pass) will likely stay in your memory for ever, with its stunning start in the picturesque village of Buttermere.  It has a beautiful ascent up the moors until you reach the climax at the magnificent Moss Force Waterfalls at the top of the pass. The climb is 1.95 kilometres long, with an elevation of 190 metres.

Newlands Hause Pass links Buttermere and Keswick. It could be combined with Honister Pass and/or Whinlatter Pass if you would like a challenging day in the north-west Lakes.

Whinlatter Pass

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The climb up Whinlatter Pass is longer (4.9  kilometres) than most of the well-known climbs in the Lake District, but without such severe gradients.  It starts from Braithwaite village and unlike many passes in the Lakes, is almost completely treelined. With the elevation of 230 metres, the climb is mostly gradual, with a couple of steeper sections. As a result, much of the ride is quite sheltered in the Whinlatter Forest but there are still some lovely views over Bassenthwaite Lake to the north.

Lake District cycling routes: challenging

Here are some ideas for Lake District cycling loops that take in a number of the main climbs.

When cycling in the Lake District, it’s worth planning carefully to ensure you choose the level of challenge suitable to you. The challenging routes are steep, the descents are short and technical. Be aware that for road cyclists, if you want it to be, the Lake District can be one of the hardest places in the UK to ride your bike.

There are easier options too though – read on for more moderate and easy routes below.

Coniston, Hardknott and Wrynose loop (central and south-west Lakes)

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If you want to conquer the Hardknott Pass and Wrynose Pass as well as appreciate the beautiful fells of the south-east Lake District, then this is the ride to do.

With a total of 1,670m elevation, it is challenging but spectacular. Depending on where you are staying, your start and ending could be at any point along the route. If starting in the Elterwater area, where there are ample parking options, set off along the Langdale Valley; over Blea Tarn Pass; Wrynose Pass; Hardknott Pass; turn south-east over Birker Fell; through Broughton-in-Furness; and circle around Coniston Water on your return.

There are a great range of cafés and traditional pub stops along the route, including in Eskdale valley, Broughton and Coniston.

See the Coniston and Wrynose loop option below for a shorter route.

Grasmere, Whinlatter, Hardknott loop (central and north-west Lakes)

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This route showcases the amazing variety of scenery and climbs the Lake District can offer, covering the central, northern and western regions, including three of the major climbs on the Fred Whitton route. It includes 1,970m of elevation and 66 miles, making it a challenging but rewarding day’s ride for strong and experienced cyclists.

Setting off from Skelwith Bridge in the heart of the Lakes, the route goes north past Grasmere and on to the tourist town of Keswick (note that at the time of writing Thirlmere Reservoir needs to be passed on the A591 due to the road closure on the western side). 

From Keswick this ride joins a section of The Fred Whitton course at Braithwaite, over Whinlatter Pass, skirting Loweswater and the eastern fells, before the challenging return climbs over Hardknott Pass and Wrynose Pass.

There are great refreshment options along the way in Keswick and also in Eskdale before the challenging final climbs of the day.

The Struggle, Ullswater, Shap loop (central and eastern Lakes)

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The route circles the eastern fells of the Lake District, with a total elevation of 1,250 metres, taking in the idyllic scenery around Ullswater.

If you were to start in Troutbeck, the route passes through Ambleside and up The Struggle over Kirkstone Pass, which is the only major climb of the route. From the top of Kirkstone you descend and pass through Glenridding, around Ullswater Lake, through Pooley Bridge, Shap and Staveley.

As well as the breathtaking scenery, this route offers a great choice of refreshment stops along the way, in Glenridding, Pooley Bridge, Shap and Staveley.

Honister, Newlands and Whinlatter loop (north-west Lakes)

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Taking in three of the Lake District classic road climbs and another key section of the Fred Whitton course, this route is an epic for cyclists who would like a challenge and the chance to enjoy the stunning beauty of the north-east Lakes. If you start from the Keswick area (Applethwaite being a suggestion), we suggest an early start to avoid the busiest of the tourist traffic along Derwentwater.

Riding on through Borrowdale you find the first climb over Honister Pass to Buttermere.  Here you will take a right turn up Newlands Hause Pass and a welcome break at the magnificent Moss Force Waterfalls. After your descent to Braithwaite, there will be the fresh challenge of Whinlatter Pass before riding on to the pretty market town of Cockermouth.  Finally, there is the loop back around the east of Bassenthwaite Lake.

A great choice of cafes awaits you, including but not limited to, Honister Quarry and Slate Mine, Buttermere, Braithwaite and a good selection in the centre of Cockermouth.

Lake District cycling routes: moderate

These routes are also great for leisure e-bike cycle day rides.

Skiddaw and north Lakes loop (north Lakes)

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Another favourite day ride of mine is this lesser visited and spectacular landscape of the North Lakes around the Skiddaw and Blencathra mountain range. Without any major climbs and total elevation of only 620 m, the route takes in incredible scenery along lovely quiet fell lanes via the tranquil villages of Bassenthwaite, Caldbeck and Mungrisdale.

There are a range of cafés and traditional pub food options near Keswick and all along the southern section of the route.  Caldbeck village has several cafes and a shop for refreshments in the north.

Coniston, Duddon Valley and Wrynose loop (central Lakes)

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This lovely route explores the central Lakes but without covering as many miles as some of the longer routes above.

Covering 39 miles and a total elevation of 1,250m, it is still a challenging ride, but the ascents are mostly more gradual, and you will experience breathtaking scenery from the top of Wrynose Pass. If you start from Elterwater, the route takes you south along the shores of Coniston Water, then along the peaceful and beautiful Duddon Valley.  From here is the ascent up to the top of Wrynose Pass with the spectacular views and a descent down through Little Langdale. The route can be shortened by following the road along the west of Coniston Water.  Also, a great way to slightly lengthen it (if you are up for another climb), is to turn left after descending Wrynose Pass, cycle up past Blea Tarn and return along the Langdale Valley.

Café options after passing the town of Coniston are limited, but there are options of a detour to the market town of Broughton-in-Furness, or the Newfield Inn at Seathwaite as you cycle up the Duddon Valley. There is The Three Shires Inn when you reach Little Langdale and pubs and cafes in Great Langdale.

South Lakeland loop

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This is a great route to explore the Southern Lake District region, with its rolling fells and quiet country lanes. Total elevation gain is 740 metres on this route.

If you start at the Wheelbase Cycle Store in Staveley and go in a clockwise direction, you will soon be high enough for superb views of the Lake District mountains to the north and west and the rolling fells to the south and east. The route follows quiet roads south through picturesque villages to Grange-over-Sands, then meanders in a north-eastern direction through the market town of Kendal and navigates around the fells back to Staveley.

You pass a choice of great traditional pubs and a range of cafes as you go through Cartmel (home to the famous sticky toffee puddings!), Grange-over-Sands and Kendal (home to the famous mint cake!).

You can easily adapt this route to visit attractions of your choice, including along Lake Windermere.

 

Lake District cycling routes: leisurely

While many of the most scenic road cycling routes in the Lakes involve the kind of hilly terrain featured above, you can also find easier rides in many areas of the Lake District that avoid the major hill climbs. As well as the lower gear ratios available and the progress of e-bike technology, cycleways are progressively being developed in the heart of the Lake District.

Below are a few suggestions of routes that include quiet country lanes and some gravel cycle tracks suitable for hybrid and road bikes with gravel tyres.

Grasmere, Wray Castle loop

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This is a great way to fully appreciate and enjoy the central Lakes without having to cover too great a distance. If you start near Rydal Water there is a gravel cycle path around the lake and then lanes and cycle tracks taking you south to Wray Castle. From here some gated cycle-friendly tracks and country lanes take you up to Skelwith Bridge and Elterwater.

Moving on, there is a climb both up and then down over Red Bank taking you to Grasmere Village.  Here is Dove Cottage, which was the home of the poet William Wordsworth and where it is possible to buy the famous Grasmere Gingerbread.

There is a huge choice of great refreshment stops all the way around this route.

Staveley Cartmel Fell loop

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This relatively short cycle loop around South Lakeland will give you a taste of the Lake District’s beautiful rolling hills as well as great views of the higher Lake District fells.

The route follows relatively quiet country lanes as well as a few sections of quiet, gated lanes as you climb over the moors from Ings to Winster. If you start and end in Staveley there are a range of cafes and pubs, as well as the highly recommended Wilf’s café behind the Wheelbase Cycle Store. The Brown Horse at Winster and Hare & Hounds at Bowland Bridge serve lovely meals or simply a nice pot of tea.

Ambleside, Newby Bridge, Lake Windermere Steamer

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This route is a lovely option if you would like to combine a relatively easy Lake District cycle ride with a lovely steamer trip on Lake Windermere.

Either direction works well.

If you cycle from Ambleside, there are cycle tracks parallel to many of the country roads which can be useful, particularly on sections which can have quite a lot of traffic in peak holiday times during the summer.

The steamers usually run on an hourly basis both ways between Waterside near Ambleside to the north and Lakeside just north of Newby Bridge to the south. Detours can be included to visit a range of attractions including Wray Castle, the pretty market town of Hawkshead and Hill Top house, where Beatrix Potter was inspired when writing the Tales of Peter Rabbit.

Lake District cycling routes: easy / children-friendly

The choice and range of easier cycling routes in the Lake District and places where you can confidently cycle with children in the Lake District is constantly growing, thanks to the increasing number of cycle paths and trails.

Of course, you need to consider your child’s age and ability before embarking on a route; what one child is capable of is very different to another. Suggestions include:

Windermere Ferry

People often ask what the best lake to cycle around is; my answer is usually Lake Windermere, because of this ride. Starting from the Windermere ferry is a lovely option, if you are approaching the Lake Windermere area from the south or east.  After the 10-minute ferry crossing, the boat takes you to the cycle path on the western shore of Lake Windermere. From there you can head north to Wray Castle for a picnic (or cup of tea in the tea room) and stunning scenery. Return the same way along the lake shore cycle path and return on the car/cable ferry. Tip: check before you set out to make sure the ferry is operating!

Langdale Valley

In the Langdale Valley, you can cycle from Skelwith Bridge through Elterwater to Dungeon Ghyll and back, all on the gravel path following the river Brathay. This route has a great range of cafes and pubs at Skelwith Bridge, Elterwater and at the top of the valley at Dungeon Ghyll.

Grizedale Forest

There are loads of off-road trails in the Forestry Commission-run Grizedale Forest, with distances from around two to 14+ miles. As well as the graded and technical mountain bike routes, there are miles of forest gravel tracks on either side of the valley. You will also come across over 40 sculptures and works of art. However, please note that the forest trails are quite steep, so if you’re with younger/inexperienced kids, then a good starting point could be from Moor Top car park where you’ll find the easier routes.

Whinlatter Forest

Whinlatter Forest also has some fantastic options for off-road riding, with trails from one to 12+ miles. It’s more suitable for mountain biking but a few short trails are accessible for your kids and there is a café for refreshments.

Keswick old railway

The Keswick old railway line cycle path is a six mile off road route that is quite flat and with a good surface. A convenient place to join it is from the Keswick Leisure Centre, or from the other end of the route at the village of Threlkeld. There are also several spots along the route where you can get access the River Greta for a picnic.

Lake District cycle events

For those looking for a challenge, the Lake District is home to a number of well-known sportives which are perfect as the focus of a Lake District cycling holiday; or maybe just as a standalone reason to visit.

Fred Whitton Challenge

The Fred Whitton Challenge is one of the UK’s classic cycling sportives. It starts in the village of Grasmere and covers 112 miles, including a total elevation gain of 3,150 m. It’s by far the most well-known road cycling event in the Lake District and it’s the ultimate challenge for many UK cyclists.  Established in 1999, the route takes in Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott, Wrynose and Blea Tarn passes. The event is usually held in May each year. It is generally accepted to be the hardest one-day ride in the UK. (It also made it to our list of the best UK sportives!).

Lakeland Loop

This sportive is a great early season challenge; it’s usually held in April and many riders use it as a warm-up for the Fred Whitton. The Lakeland Loop starts from the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Great Langdale. The Loop is about 70 miles long and takes in fantastic views from many of the great Lake District Passes including Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose. It’s one of the oldest events in the Northwest and remains a classic.

Cumbrian Cracker

Another popular Lake District sportive is the Cumbrian Cracker. It’s normally held in November and covers 60 miles. Starting in Grasmere, the route does not have the challenging hill climbs that many of the other sportives include. Instead, it is a lovely ride south round the eastern shores of Coniston Water, on to the famous village of Cartmel and returning via Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead and Ambleside.

Where to stay in the Lake District (for cyclists)

Remember to double-check accommodation bike storage arrangements (and any other services you need) before booking as policies often change.

The Lake District is not the cheapest cycling holiday destination in the world. Yet if you know where to look, you can still find a range of accommodation options to meet all budgets.

Luxury, mid-range and budget options

If you would like a special treat and have a deep enough pocket then there are comfortable hotels and spas in great locations and with some lovely facilities, such as the Langdale Hotel & Spa in Elterwater.

Alternatively, there are a range of youth hostels and bunkhouse accommodation options throughout the Lakes, including central locations such as Ambleside, Grasmere, Elterwater, Coniston and Keswick.

In between the luxury spa and bunkhouse options, there is a whole range of alternative options from tranquil self-catering cottages to 2- and 3-star guest houses and traditional pubs. If you are looking for accommodation in some of the key centres, below are a few suggestions.

Keswick

The northern visitor centre and market town of Keswick is situated on the Coast-to-Coast cycle route, so many accommodation providers cater for cyclists. For example, the Glendale Guest House is moderately priced, in a convenient location with cycle storage and has a great reputation. The Royal Oak Hotel has facilities for cyclists and then there is the YHA Keswick with its range of accommodation options and cycle storage.

Ambleside

Ambleside is great for cyclists, with lots of amenities and a range of accommodation options including the Brathay Lodge and Rothay Garth guest houses. They are comfortable, conveniently located and have cycle storage options.

The YHA Ambleside hostel is set in a lovely location on the lake shore and a short cycle (15-minute walk) from the town centre.

Windermere

Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere area have a lot of very comfortable hotels at different levels of facilities and price ranges, as well as smaller guest houses, particularly nearer the town centres. There are good options in central Windermere like the Glen Wynne guest house, and great hotels like the Lindeth Fell Country House nearby. 

Other locations

Other great locations to consider basing yourself for a cycling holiday in the south and central Lake District could include Kendal, Coniston, Hawkshead, Grasmere, Elterwater.

To the north there is Keswick, Cockermouth, Braithwaite or hotels located around Derwentwater, Buttermere or Loweswater.

Bike hire in the Lake District

Prices, services and bike brands often change. Please let us know if anything is incorrect.

Lake District bike hire options focus predominantly on off-road bikes. Road bike rental in the Lake District is harder to come by. These are the options we’ve come across to date:

South and Central Lakes delivery

E-Bike Safaris (E-Bikes / electric bike hire)

Phil says “At E-Bike Safaris we rent our fleet of high specification touring hybrid e-Bikes to visitors wanting to explore the Lakes by bike. We also organise multi-day tours for guests throughout the Lake District.  

When renting bikes from E-Bike Safaris, the bikes are not only delivered to your doorstep, but I am also happy to plot a choice of cycle routes from your location. With my local knowledge and the GPS routes accessed via phone mounts on the handlebars, you’ll find navigating the beautiful scenic routes a pleasure. 

The multi-day tours offered by E-Bike Safaris provide a choice of my favourite routes. They are fully supported with flexible itineraries, daily route briefings, detailed route maps, van and mechanical back-up support, daily luggage transfers and a range of useful accessories for the bikes .”

Windermere

Country Lanes Cycles (road and mountain bike hire)

Lake District Bike Hire (mountain bike hire)

Total Adventure Bike Hire (mountain and e-bike)

Other locations

Ulverston – Lake District Bikes (road, mountain, gravel, e-bike hire)

Keswick – Keswick Bikes (mountain bike and e-bike hire)

Ambleside – Biketreks (mountain and e-bikes hire)

 

When to visit the Lake District

The Lake District is a popular destination all year around. Generally this isn’t too much of a problem, other than in August, when the roads can get very busy.

Both spring and autumn are beautiful times to visit. October can be particularly beautiful, with yellow and gold leaves on the tree, bright skies (if you’re lucky) and wonderful cloud inversions that fill the valleys with mist.

Tips

Take the weather seriously

As ever in the high hills and mountains, remember that the weather changes quickly, so be prepared for the worst. It does get a lot of rain and it often snows in winter. However, even when the weather is sub-optimal, the scenery still tends to look beautiful and it all adds to the adventure, right?!

Gear up

Bring your compact chainset and a 32t if you have it – you’re going to need all the gears you can get up those gradients! We’d also suggest disc brakes.

Gradients and road surfaces

Try and get some experience of both climbing and descending before you arrive. It sounds a bit perverse, but the descending can be tougher (and significantly more hair-raising!) than the climbing on these kinds of gradients. You might want to consider some strength training for your arms if you’re not regularly riding somewhere hilly before you arrive in the Lakes! Alternatively, pick a Lake District bike ride or bike trail that’s less demanding; see above.

Expect bumps and lumps in the road surfaces. As mentioned above, the weather in the Lakes is not one of its highlights and this takes its toll on the road surfaces. Take particular care if it’s been raining as on the steep gradients you may struggle to grain traction.

Factor in the gradients when planning your Lake District rides. As with many mountainous areas, the climbs and their gradients make a big impact on how hard your ride is, so don’t make your day one ride a 100 miler until you’ve seen for yourself what the riding is like. Or you can always hire an e-bike!

Traffic

Some of the more classic climbs do require cycling on sections of busier, narrow roads, so consider setting out early, to avoid catching too much traffic, especially in summer.

How to get to the Lake District

By train

From London the train journey can be as short as 2 hours 40 minutes.

From Leeds to Oxenholme is roughly 2 hours 10 minutes.

From Manchester to Oxenholme takes as little as 1 hour 10 minutes.

By air

Manchester is the most convenient airport which is a 1 hr 30 mins drive to Kendal. Leeds Bradford airport is a two hour drive to Kendal.

By car

The Lake District is 4 hrs 30 mins from London via M1 & M6. 1 hr 40 mins from Leeds via M62 and M6.

Getting around the Lake District

Getting to and from the Lake District by public transport is a great way to help reduce our carbon footprint. Being able to use public transport as part of your cycling day trips is also possible in some locations, with careful planning. Below are some suggestions:

Trains

With rail links on the London to Glasgow line, you can arrive at Kendal (Oxenholme) and Penrith stations to start cycling in the south and north Lakes respectively.

Alternatively, you can transfer to one of the local routes, including the line to Windermere in central Lakes, the Furness line that passes through convenient drop off points such as Grange-over-Sands and Ulverston.

If you would like to base yourself, or start your ride, in the West Lakes, then the Furness line links up with the West Coast line which takes you all the way north to Whitehaven.  Alternatively, you can reach Whitehaven and the West Coast line on the northern train service from Carlisle. Do check with trainlines prior to travel as some require pre-booking for bicycles.

Buses

Whilst the Lake District does have quite a comprehensive bus network, at the time of writing the only route which carries bikes is the bus route # 599 service between Kendal and Grasmere, via Windermere and Ambleside.  This is very convenient both for accessing the central Lakes if arriving by train and for combining (making lighter work) of a day’s cycle ride.

Check before you travel as bus routes and rules change frequently.

Ferries and steamers

The cable car ferry that crosses Lake Windermere just south of Bowness-on-Windermere is a very convenient way of accessing the central Lakes, avoiding the busier Lake District roads through Windermere and Ambleside.

It’s also lovely to include a leisurely boat trip in a day’s cycle trip; you can take your bike on a Lake Steamer for part or the full length of Lake Windermere – more details in the routes above. Do check timetables before departure as the times change during the year.

Taxis and transfers

We believe the following taxi companies cater for carrying bikes; contact them direct to confirm:

Lakeside Taxis, Kendal

Airport Transfer services, Kendal

Penrith Taxis, Penrith

What next?

Interested in other UK cycling destinations? Head to our UK cycling page here which has links to loads of articles on other UK destinations.

You might also be interested in our pick of the best regions of the UK for a cycling holiday and the best UK sportives.

 

 

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Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up epicroadrides.com in 2018 to help make it easy for cyclists to explore the world by bike. Today her mission is still inspiring cyclists to discover new places on two wheels – and doing what she can to make sure they have the best possible time while they’re there. Clare has visited 50+ destinations around the world, many of them by bike.

Phil Thomas

Phil Thomas established E-Bike Safaris to make it easier for leisure cyclists to ride the Lake District. As a keen cyclist himself, he says “I set up E-Bike Safaris to help people enjoy the beauty of the Lakes by bike.” 

Prior to setting up E-bike Safaris, Phil has spent time driving overland safaris in Africa, working for international aid agencies as well as spending some years working in the outdoor education field in the UK.  After enjoying a range of adventures, on returning to the Lake District with his family, he has invested all his time and experiences into setting up and promoting E-Bike Safaris. 

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