If you’re planning on taking a trip to the Lake District, we’d definitely recommend bringing your bike. Stunning scenery, plenty of challenging off-road tracks, and a selection of man-made trails for less experienced riders – there’s no better place to explore on two wheels.
Here’s everything you need to know about cycling in the Lake District.
Things to consider
Our first piece of advice is to fully understand your riding party’s cycling ability. While this may sound rather patronising, the truth is that cycling five miles uphill in the Lake District can feel like the equivalent of doing the same on a flat for 20 miles.
With hills comes descents as well. So always stay close to your child or loved one so you can safely guide them down.
You’ll want to make sure you’ve got the right clothing too; the weather in the Lake District changes very quickly, and it rains for around 200 days a year! Here are our essentials:
- A good hi-vis jacket for if it’s dark or misty
- High-quality cycling shoes that won’t hurt your feet
- Thermals and base layers if you’re going early or in the winter
- Of course, a protective helmet
Best places to cycle in the Lake District
For families and beginners
Keswick to Threlkeld
This traffic-free 6.4-mile round trip is perfect for all ages and abilities. It’s a flat route that follows the old railway line to Threlkeld. There are stunning views as you cross the River Greta, and plenty of places to stop for a picnic.
Western shore of Windermere
This 9-mile stretch is the perfect excuse to bask in the beauty of Lake Windermere. Combining traffic-free cycle paths and very quiet roads, it’s a great choice for young families who want to start exploring.
For frequent leisure riders
Windermere Ferry Loop
For more confident cyclists, this loop around Lake Windermere includes 40 miles of riding, views of the railway – and even a ferry crossing! There’s a bit of a climb near the beginning, but beyond that you’ll be treated to some spectacular sights along the lakeside, as well as passing through Bowness and Sawrey.
Explore the paths around Elter Water
This 1hr35, 12-mile route passes through some of the most spectacular sights the Lake District has to offer, and the smooth, gravelled paths give you a chance to take them in fully. The footbridge across Great Langdale Beck is a particularly stunning spot.
For passionate cyclists
Fred Whitton Challenge
One of the most popular – and difficult – sportives in the UK, the Fred Whitton Challenge is a gruelling 112-mile ride around the National Park. The top-level pros will often complete the route in around 6 hours, but the average passionate Sportive rider can expect to do it in 11 or over.
Perfect for thrill-seekers looking for some steep climbs and drops, the Four Passes route is only 25km long but racks up a high 1500m of elevation. Explore the Honister, Scarth Gap, Black Sail and Sty Head passes and bask in the excitement.