You've just arrived at your holiday cottage in the Lake District, the sun is shining overhead, and you want to get out and about on two wheels instead of four. But where should you go?
Even with its famously hilly terrain, the Lake District has a wonderful mix of cycling routes to suit everyone, from leisurely family days out to more challenging rides, and we’ve gathered together our favourites below.
Before you go: Ensure your bike is suitable for the terrain and that you have a map of the route, food and water, and always wear a helmet. Always let walkers and horse riders know that you're approaching, and pass with care. These tips ensure everyone has a lovely time exploring the Lakes.
Windermere Western Shore
8 miles return, suitable for beginners
The peaceful western shore of Windermere is the ideal place to explore by bike, with beautiful lake views to be enjoyed from bridleways, which have gentle slopes and are mainly traffic-free.
The route can be accessed from Wray Castle by car, Bowness-on-Windermere on the ferry, or Brockhole on its Bike Boat on selected weekends and daily over the summer holidays. Stop for refreshments at Wray Castle or Claife Viewing station, and you can hire bikes from Brockhole too.
Take a look at our cottages in and around Windermere.
Various trails and grades
Grizedale Forest is the perfect traffic-free environment for young cyclists, with its gentle Goosey Foot Tarn Trail (2 miles) and family-friendly Mushroom Cycle Trail – look out for the wooden mushrooms along your way through the forest!
There are also a number of graded orienteering trails, as well as longer routes for more experienced riders (one passing the famous forest sculptures). Adrenaline junkies will love the North Face Mountain Bike Trail and severe black trail known simply as 'The Black'. There really is something for everyone here, and if you don't have your own bikes with you, you can hire them from Grizedale Mountain Bikes.
Take a look at our cottages in Hawkshead and Grizedale.
Various trails, moderate and difficult
Whinlatter is England's only true mountain forest and is home to the longest purpose-built mountain bike trails in the Lake District.
Routes include the Quercus Trail (2-mile and 4.6-mile options), mountain bike orienteering trails, and the more difficult Altura Trail for experienced riders with excellent off-road skills and higher levels of fitness. Mountain bike hire is also available here.
View our cottages around Whinlatter.
The Torver Trail
6 miles return, suitable for beginners
Coniston once had its very own railway line connected to the Furness Railway, which was abandoned in 1958. In recent years, however, parts of the track bed have been converted to form a cycle path: The Torver Trail!
This lovely route begins at the lakeside car park on Lake Road and is mainly off-road with gentle hills, heading south along the western shore of Coniston before moving inland to Torver.
View our cottages in and around Coniston.
The Grasmere Trail
10.4 miles return, moderate
This stunning route takes you from Ambleside to Grasmere and back (or vice versa) and is mostly off-road or on quiet lanes, leading you alongside Rydal Water and Grasmere and along Loughrigg Fell.
The route is uneven and undulating, taking in some short steep hills and descents. It is well sign-posted as it’s also Route 6 on the National Cycle Network – what could be more inviting on a pleasant day than to stop for a picnic on the tranquil shores of Grasmere?
Explore our cottages around Grasmere.
Great Mell Fell and Little Mell Fell Cycle Loop
17.5 miles, challenging
Ullswater offers some scenic but challenging terrain for cyclists, and this particular route takes you away from the lake to wonderful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Great Mell Fell and Little Mell Fell are both surrounded by a network of quiet lanes at a fairly high level, which makes the area perfect to explore by bike. Start out and finish at Pooley Bridge, and you can stop for some after-ride refreshments at a choice of local cafés or pubs.
Take a look at our cottages in Ullswater.
The Eskdale Trail
8.5 miles one way, suitable for many abilities with one challenging section
The Eskdale Trail is a waymarked cycling route with no cars, which reaches from Dalegarth in the Eskdale valley to the coastal town of Ravenglass. The route is suitable for most ages, with one difficult section that may be a challenge for some.
For a unique day out, don't forget to pre-book a place for your bikes on the special cycle carriage on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway for the return journey (book at least 24 hours in advance). Then you can sit back and relax as this charming steam train winds its way back to your starting point.
A Tour of Borrowdale
17 miles, difficult with steep climbs and technical descents
If you're looking for a much more challenging ride around classic Lakeland scenery, the Borrowdale Tour delivers on this and more. Starting in Keswick, the route forms a loop around Derwentwater – best taken in a clockwise direction – and takes in Watendlath, Rosthwaite and Seatoller to the south.
You'll see some of the area's most iconic views, including Ashness Bridge and Surprise View and, although the route isn't particularly remote, it delivers steep climbs and technical descents, so isn't for the faint-hearted!
View our properties around Borrowdale.
Langdale Cycle Trail
11 miles, moderate with steep sections
Take in the fantastic scenery of the Great Langdale valley on the Langdale Cycle Trail, which winds through woodland, a slate quarry and alongside a river.
Begin your ride at Stickle Ghyll car park and be aware there’s a steep climb near the beginning of this route, perfect for getting the hard part out of the way. Be sure to stop and look back when you reach the top for fantastic views. Chesters by the River is a café and acts as the turnaround point on this trail – grab a refreshing drink before returning the way you came to the Stickle Ghyll car park.
Discover our cottages throughout The Langdale Valley.
Various route lengths and degrees of difficulty
The Ennerdale valley boasts more than 10 miles of forest roads, which, with very little traffic, makes it the perfect place to explore by bike! If you're not staying in Ennerdale, you can park the car at Bowness Knott car park. From here there's a steep section of road to the lake, and then you can enjoy a 3-mile bike ride to the Irish Bridge over the River Liza, do a short loop through the forest (7.5 miles), or climb to the top of the valley (11.5 miles).
Take a look at our stunning properties in Ennerdale.
Cycling Holidays in the Lake District
If you're planning to visit the Lake District on two wheels in the near future, but haven't yet booked your stay, take a look at our wonderful selection of Lake District cottages, including our cottages with bike storage.