Mountain Journeys

Road Cycling - The Lake District

Road Cycling - The Lake District

Some of the most amazing roads in England, with world class scenery

The Lake District offers some of the most amazing roads in England, with world class scenery. But Road Cycling in the Lake District doesn’t come easy and knowing where to start and what the routes hold in store can be tricky to work out for the visiting cyclist. On numerous occasions I’ve been approached by cyclists here on holiday who don’t feel confident to tackle some of the big climbs or try longer rides here. With a little help it’s all very achievable.

We know the roads here very well, so are well placed to advice on route choice and match this to your expectations.

Due to the hilly nature of the terrain here, having regular fuel stops is important. We will always include planned stops at great cycle friendly cafes. For a morning ride we would aim for one stop and if out on longer rides we’d be aiming for two sit down stops as a minimum.

For your peace of mind, we only use British Cycling qualified leaders who are local to and familiar with the area.

Great if you already have a route in mind, just let us know. Or if preferred we can plan a route based on the type of riding you want and how far you want to go. Below are a few route ideas to get things started. All setting off from Ambleside, but we can start from other locations too.

Bicycle in good working order
Spare tubes
Puncture repair kit
Lightweight waterproof jacket
Snacks/energy gels
Plenty of fluids
Card/cash for café stops

From April – October

Safety is our priority and for everything we do the weather has an impact. We therefore pay close attention to forecasts.
In the event of heavy rain or other poor weather scenarios we will try to reschedule a ride and if this is not possible the ride may be cancelled (full refunds will be offered).

We will gladly offer assistance in the event of a breakdown/puncture, but we are not qualified mechanics.

Throughout the Lake District

Mountain Journey


Up to 2 participants = £40pp
Up to 4 participants = £30pp
Up to 8 participants = £25pp

Our Routes

Road Cycling Lake District

Ullswater explorer and Helvellyn circuit 60km / 970m ascent – after a warm up along the peaceful and mostly flat Under Loughrigg lane, we return to Ambleside and to the base of the iconic climb of ‘The Struggle’. Aptly named this is brutal from the start. Thankfully the scenery will soon give us distraction and there are points of respite including a downhill section during the second half. A final steep pull via switchbacks leads to The Kirkstone Pass Inn (optional brew stop).

A fine descent now follows and leads us to the shores of Ullswater and a welcome brew stop in either Patterdale or Glenridding. We turn away from Ullswater near Aira Force and make a steady climb to Dockray. Some wonderful riding is to be had here as the views open up.

The A66 can be busy but we aren’t on it long and the long descent makes up for this. Turning into St. Johns in the Vale we are now heading south on the return leg, with a pit-stop before tackling Dunmail Raise, then it’s mostly downhill all the way home. Perfect for those wanting a tour of the area and don’t mind some big hills.

Langdale and Grasmere loop 30km / 520m ascent – a short sharp leg burner.

Taking the quiet way out of Ambleside to Rydal we then join the main road to Grasmere, sweeping through the village and onto the Red Bank road, this allows fine views over the lake. The Red Bank climb is short & savage.

A beautiful descent leads into the Langdale valley and we head all the way along the valley floor where we meet our next climb up to Blea tarn. This too is steep but achingly beautiful with arguably the finest views in all of England from the top. Undulating lanes lead onwards to Little Langdale and a quick pub stop if needed. A short and reasonably easy climb leads up to the main road and from here it’s easy going back to Ambleside. This is a brilliant route for those looking for a short but satisfying ride.

Duddon valley and Wrynose 63km / 1200m ascent – from Ambleside we glide through the Langdale valley and over the Blea tarn climb (hard) to access Little Langdale. Here we turn right onto the Wrynose Pass, noting the warning signs advising just how steep this is going to be. For a while it’s actually okay, reasonably flat. Once beyond the farm all this changes and there are only occasional glimmers of hope that there may be anything less than a brutal ascent on the horizon. But it really isn’t all that bad and respite does occur. And never mind the steepness, check out the views, amazing is an understatement. The 3 Shires Stone marks the top of this big climb and we’ll definitely be having a rest here.

A short, twisting descent into Wrynose Bottoms provides a feeling of wilderness and as we turn into the Duddon Valley this theme continues. Duddon is such a tranquil place and the best way to see and appreciate it is on two wheels.

Our return route is via Torver and Coniston. This final section still has plenty of hills so leave some in the tank. The go-to outing for those wanting to test their hill stamina whilst enjoying gorgeous scenery.

The 3 Passes Challenge – because it’s there ride! Wrynose, Hardknott, Blea tarn Passes 65km / 1600m ascent – not for those of a nervous disposition!

This is tough, tough, tough and the roads are regularly exposed to steep drops.

After a gentle cruise through the achingly beautiful Langdale valley we tackle climb number one, Blea Tarn. This is fairly short but still tough so we’ll pace this slowly. Ace views from the top then an easy ride over to the Wrynose Pass. Okay, so now the volume gets turned up and our leg tempo reduces on this road to the sky.

Another breather is called for at the top. From here, instead of turning off into the tranquillity of the Duddon valley, we now tackle the sheer craziness of Hardknott Pass. This is mind-bendingly steep and should only be attempted by riders in very good physical shape. The sense of achievement upon reaching the top is quite special and will be a treasured memory for many years.

We now descend into Eskdale and this requires the upmost of care due to the severely steep winding road. Once in Eskdale it’s an easy glide along the valley floor, stopping mid-way for a refuel at one of the pubs. Then it’s onto the Birker Fell road that offers increasingly far reaching views towards the Scafell mountains. The road connects us with the Duddon valley and we take this north to reach Wrynose once more.

Going over Wrynose Pass from the west is quite an easy ascent and the descent to Little Langdale, whilst very steep is glorious. This is a ride for those who are very confident they have high levels of stamina and determination, as well as good brakes!

Windermere explorer 50km / 600m ascent – this route stays on the quiet Western side of Windermere, exploring many of the small lanes and hamlets.

Newby Bridge is a good stop off point and as far south as we go on this route. We then follow quiet lanes north through beautiful woodland and many small climbs giving our legs a good workout. A further refuel near Hawkshead before we return via Wray. This is a great route for those wanting a tour of the area without too much ascent and no big hill climbs.

Coniston loop 50km / 540m ascent – a favourite of ours with much to offer. From Ambleside it’s an easy cruise over to Coniston, but still worth a quick pit-stop at the Bluebird café on the lakeshore.

South of Coniston the roads become quieter and beyond Torver quieter still. This route does a complete circuit of Coniston Water thus enjoys the tranquil lanes on the eastern shore. We know some great stop-offs along here.

Our return to Ambleside includes an ascent of Hawkshead Hill, not to be under-estimated. This has some short sections at around 20%. Glorious country lanes then lead us back to Ambleside. Perfect for those wanting to explore the quieter side of Coniston and don’t mind a short hill climb.

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