Where can I Cycle in the Lakes?

Finding the best cycling break in Cumbria requires a little research and planning, including finding books on cycle routes within Cumbria. But when all goes well, a bike holiday in the Lake District could become an addictive pastime. Indeed, the Lakes is considered unrivalled when it comes to the cycle routes available, offering all sorts of interesting terrain within a relatively small area. The following advice will help the holiday maker choose the most suitable cycling holiday in Lakeland.


How to Plan a Mountain Bike Holiday


A great activity holiday may come in the form of a mountain bike holiday within the Lakes. But finding the right cycle holiday requires prior thought. Issues such as the budget available, the scenery sought after, the climate, the type of accommodation and of course, the fitness level of the cyclist will all affect the holiday selected.


Lakeland Climate


The Lakes not only has diverse weather conditions, but also microclimates. Whilst it might be warm in the Valleys, such as in Borrowdale, it can get quite chilly up in Scafell or on the lake shore. The wettest spot in England is in Seathwaite, so it is worth packing lightweight breathable waterproof trousers and coat, even if the weather forecast promises dry weather.


The Lakes also has diverse terrain. The steep slopes of Hard Knot Pass, Easedale Tarn or Great Gable may be retained for the most experienced mountain biker, but the gentle slopes of an Elterwater route or Rydal and Grasmere could be ideal for the beginner. Whinlatter Forest and Grizedale Forest also provide lots of routes for road free cycling, ideal for families.


Cycling Routes within the Lakes


Other ideas for cycling routes for mountain biking in Cumbria are:

  • Circuit of Windermere
  • Keswick to Cockermouth
  • Lancaster to Kendal
  • Penrith to Carlisle
  • Castle Crag at Derwentwater
  • Newlands Vallery
  • The C2C cycle route through the Lakes (standing for coast to coast) that runs from Penrith to the East of Cumbria to Workington or Whitehaven on the Cumbrian coast.
  • And lots more
Some of these routes link to other bicycle routes such as the Hadrian’s Cycleway or the Pennine Way..
Bridge over the Rothay at Rydal. Grasmere and Rydal (left) have plenty of easy cycle routes.

Bike Rental within the Lake District

Not all holiday makers are able to transport mountain bikes to the Lakes, particularly if distance or the vehicle makes this difficult. Bike rental in Cumbria might be the answer. When selecting a cycle provider, ensure the following issues are addressed:
  • That the bikes for hire are not old, for example, are not more than two or three years old
  • Maintenance is top notch. The breaks must be sharp, reflectors in good order and the gear change smoothly
  • Plenty of gears to deal with the varying landscape; between 15 and 18 should is becoming the norm. This will enable the rider to deal with challenging terrain such as Kirkstone Pass or the Langdales
  • Padded saddles for comfort
  • Affix able storage satchel to keep waterproofs, cycling hats, fleeces, sun block and refreshments
  • As essential repair kit in case of punctures
  • Bicycle lock

The cycle provider may also provide 24 hour assistance if the bike breaks down or if the cyclist encounters any other problems. However, the cyclist should be familiar with basic bike repair and maintenance, for it might be unreasonable to expect the cycle provider to be called out to fix a basic puncture if a kit has been supplied.         


Extra Essentials for a Biking Holiday


The following additional items may or may not be provided by the cycling holiday provider, but will prove very useful:

  • A compass
  • A waterproof wallet to keep maps
  • Up to date OS map of the Lake District routes
  • Local information about places of historical interest, local lore, viewpoints or enroute cafes for refreshments
  • First aid kit

It is best to provide your own cycling helmet, as bicycle rental companies do not provide these due to safety. Mobile phone could also be invaluable when lost or injured


Touring Holiday for Cyclists


Some cycle holiday providers plan the route for the holiday maker, arranging enroute accommodation. The headache of transportation of luggage is taken away, as the provider will move them for you. Travelling light is a must when mountain biking from one stay to another.


Lake District National Park Cycling


Great sources of information for the mountain biker within the Lakes can be found from the National Trust, Ordinance Survey, GPS cycle routes, National Cycle Network, Sustrans and Wainwright walking books providing intimate guide to routes around the Lake District.