Cycling in the Lake District

By Sue Talbot

Playing host to some of the most wildly beautiful scenery in the UK, this spectacular National Park begs to be explored. Cycling in the Lake District is one of the best ways to cover a lot of ground whilst enjoying the stunning views at the same time. And you don’t have to scale the highest fells to bag the best panoramas.


A self-guided cycling holiday is often best if you prefer to ride at your own pace, stopping off for photo opportunities or simply soaking up the ambience and nature along the way. While you might think that rugged, off-road terrain is necessary for cycling between each location, there are plenty of quiet roads and Lake District bike trails that lead you to equally incredible places.

There’s also a wide choice of Lake District cycle routes to choose from. Whichever you opt for, you’ll be met with the most breath-taking countryside, from dramatic peaks looming over tranquil lakes to charming villages and towns.

Windermere Cycle Route

Windermere is a great starting point for cycling in the Lake District, not only because of the magnificent setting, but also because of the many cycle routes that start out from here. It’s worth spending some time exploring the area before you head off on your adventure.


Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and is flanked by imposing peaks and pretty towns such as Bowness-on-Windermere, Ambleside and Windermere itself.

Hardknott Pass Cycling

Cutting through the Duddon Valley and Eskdale, Hardknott Pass is considered one of the most challenging rides in the country, with an average gradient of 14% and a number of hairpin bends.

Although this cycle route is tough and guaranteed to get the heart pumping, you’re rewarded with beautiful mountain views. Make sure when you’re at the highest point that you pause to appreciate the backdrop.

Cycling in Buttermere

Considerably less demanding than Hardknott Pass, cycling in Buttermere is a great introduction to the Western Lake District.


Although you’re surrounded by soaring fells and you’re at the gateway to other mountain passes such as Newlands and Honister, there are also gentler routes along the roads and bridleways. There are also several flatter routes around Loweswater that steer you along the lower lakeside path or above Holme Wood on the terrace bridleway.

Wasdale Cycling Routes

Wasdale is one of the more remote areas of the Lake District, flaunting rugged landscapes. Home to the deepest lake, the highest mountain and the smallest church in England, Wasdale has some pretty impressive accolades to its name. It’s scattered with bridleways, and Nether Wasdale is the perfect starting point for exploring the lanes that wind around Wastwater.


At every twist and turn you’ll enjoy mountainous views of Scafell Pike, Yewbarrow, Great Gable, Pillar and Kirk Fell, to name just a few. The lake’s shoreline provides the ideal spot for taking a rest and immersing yourself in the scenery before returning to Nether Wasdale for a well-earned drink.

Sue Talbot is an adventure travel blogger and iPhone photographer who’s often found hiking up the Lakeland fells or swimming in fairy pools. Her outdoor adventures and photographs can be found on her blog, Lifehop, and also her Lake District Lovers Facebook page.

If this has inspired you to hop on your bike and explore the National Park, head over to our self-guided cycling tour of the Lake District.

Originally published 14/06/22

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