December 08, 2021
Active Travel

Five Of The Best Cycling Routes In The Lake District

By Jonathan Oldaker

The Lake District is one of the UK’s best loved national parks and offers up a sprawling network of great cycle routes.

Located entirely within Cumbria, the Lake District is home to England’s highest peak, Scafell Pike. No surprise, then, that the area is also home to some of the UK’s most epic cycling climbs and passes.

But don’t fear, there are easier routes too. Both Windermere and Grasmere have family-friendly and traffic free loops that are easily accessible.

Planning a cycling trip in the Lake District is made easier by its wealth of tourist facilities–there are ample hotels, loads of great cafes, and fantastic pubs and restaurants.

You could use route planning tools like KomootStrava, or Ride with GPS to knit together highlights and landmarks, but we’ve put together five of our favourite routes from reliable sources to whet your appetite.

There’s a mixture of long distance and family-friendly routes, with one mountain biking route thrown in there too. Happy exploring!


1. Whinlatter & Honister Pass

Starting and ending in Keswick, this loop takes in two legendary Lake District high passes, Whinlatter and Honister. After Honister you might want a cafe stop (and to catch your breath), with Buttermere lake providing just the spot.

Length: 38 miles/61 km

Difficulty: Medium

Route available here.


2. Langdale Cycle Trail

Heading through the Great Langdale Valley, this National Trust organised cycle trail negates the higher passes and pikes, instead showcasing the other beautiful and varied landscape of the Lakes. Meadowland, woodland, a slate quarry, and finally a riverside path make this trail family-friendly and easy going.

Length: 11 miles/17.6 km

Difficulty: Easy

Full route details here.


3. Walna Scar

Starting in Torver, a village south of Coniston, this mountain bike trail focuses on the climb–and descent–of Walna Scar. It’s an epic climb that will reward you with a fantastic rocky and technical downhill.

Length: 22 miles/35 km

Difficulty: Hard

Find the full route and GPX here.


4. Coniston, Windermere & Southern Lakes

This 35 mile scenic route features three lakes: Windermere, Coniston Water, and Esthwaite Water. Windermere is the largest and most well-known, but Coniston Water is the best highlight.

Length: 35 miles/56 km

Difficulty: Medium

Full route information and GPX here.


5. Fred Whitton Challenge

With close to 4,000m (13,100ft) of vertical climbing, this sportive is a UK classic and a proud badge of honour for many cyclists. Established in 1999, it takes in Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott & Wrynose and Blea Tarn passes.

Harknott pass is notorious for its 30% gradient and reputation as one of the UK’s hardest climbs. One of the more experienced cyclist, you’ll see all the Lake’s great highlights in one epic ride.

Length: 113 miles/182 km

Difficulty: Hard

Route information and full GPX file here.

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