Mountain Biking In The Lake District

January 18, 2013 admin Uncategorized

Despite the mountainous terrain, it is possible to pick cycle routes for a day out in the Lake District, which will not put a strain on even the most inexperienced,  or perhaps, unaccustomed, cyclist.

The lowland areas, around and alongside the lakes are ‘rolling’ rather than mountainous, and there are many very pleasant cycle routes to choose from which take advantage of this fact.

But cycle-touring in the Lake District can also be, physically very challenging. A great many of the cycle routes involve the ‘passes’ through the moutains (or ‘fells’)  going from one lowland area to the next. These passes range from fairly normal, small, roads, to near vertical tracks.

The sport and practice of ‘pass storming’ was invented in the Lake District. This came about before mountain-bikes were on the scene. It involves cycling as far as you can (on a lightweight, touring bike) but where you can’t ride you pick up the bike and run, climb, or walk with it.

Time-trial and other kinds of races are organised in the Lake District for ‘pass-stormers’.

Mountain-biking has a different ethos. As far as mountain-bikers are concerned, picking up the bike is a very last resort. The idea is to battle on regardless, in the saddle, and attempt to cope with all obstacles which present themselves, without the ignominy of having to get off.

With modern cycle design, though, and with the fact that very many of the routes through the ‘fells’ of the Lake District are designed specifically for mountain-biking now, pass-storming is only for a few enthusiasts, and also, it has to be said, keeping in the saddle is not always the challenge it once was.


Many books and other sources of information include suggested tour routes. Most such routes are described in terms of the passes which are to be negotiated.

For instance a complete tour of all the major passes, providing views of all the main ‘fells’, and visiting many of the lakes would be as follows:  Kirkstone pass to Honister pass, Wrynose, then Hard Knott, through to Newlands Hause pass.

Cycling this entire route would also takes in some  of the rather pretty lakeshore roads which connect the passes. 


Having chosen a tour, you can go about  it in at least two, viable, alternative ways. The first is to hop from one B&B to another (or Hotel as your budget permits), and the second is to choose a base, Ambleside perhaps, and accomplish it as series of day tours: selecting the difficulty of the route for each day, according to how you feel.

Taking camping equipment with you, and cycling the whole thing as a complete tour, bivouacking when you’ve finished cycling for the day, is an option only for the seasoned enthusiast.

The gradients and terrain in the Lake District can be very difficult; if your bike is heavily laden, even getting off and pushing it up an incline, can be strenuous indeed.


The Lake District offers a great variety of cycling experiences. Part of the joy of cycling here, is the planning involved, to make sure that the experience is a pleasant one, in relation to the physical capabilities of those involved.

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