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Bikepacking in the Lake District

Lakeland 200 and seven long-weekend bikepacking adventures

Guide to eight challenging bikepacking routes, of 2–5 days, including the Lakeland 200, exploring the tracks, bridleways and iconic passes and road climbs of the Lake District. Suitable for experienced MTB and gravel-bike riders, the routes can be easily accessed by public transport and are well served for accommodation and facilities.


You can ride these routes at any time of year, although some are more exposed than others. Avoid heading out after a prolonged period of rain as this will affect the going in some places and rivers can rise quickly and become impassable. Paths and roads will be icy in winter and higher routes may see snow.


Ambleside, Windermere, Coniston, Keswick, Kendal, Staveley, Grizedale, Whitehaven and Penrith


Each route is graded. Each stage within the route is also graded using the standard MTB system. Green: off-road, relatively even ground, low gradients. Blue: challenging in parts, moderate gradients, extended exertion. Red: steep single track, obstacles. Black: physically demanding, extended exertion, highly technical or hike-a-bike (push or carry your bike). Two routes have an overall grade of Moderate, four are Hard and two are Very Hard. All routes feature considerable ascent and descent and are likely to involve some sections of hike-a-bike.

Must See

The green-lane descent from High Parkamoor; Skiddaw House and the Caldew Valley; Black Sail Pass and the YHA at Ennerdale; the Walna Scar Road; the views over the Irish Sea from Black Combe; the climb over High Street and the Straights of Riggindale; the road climbs of Hardknott and Wrynose; the exposed fell of Eskdale
17 Aug 2023
17.20 x 11.60 x 1.10cm

Bikepacking is the off-road equivalent of cycle touring, often offering opportunities for wild camping in addition to the usual accommodation options for sleeping under a roof: it promises an unparalleled opportunity to immerse yourself in the environment as you explore the best of what the area has to offer on two wheels. This guide presents eight challenging 2–5 day rides in the Lake District, suitable for mountain bikes (some routes are also rideable on a gravel bike). All routes are accessible by public transport and many can be completed over a long weekend. They are graded from Moderate to Very Hard, although all involve considerable ascent and descent and sections where you may need to push or carry your bike – as such, they are suited to fit experienced riders.

Clear route description, mapping and elevation profiles are supplemented with a wealth of planning information, including accommodation listings, notes on facilities, and summary details (including grades) for each individual section of the route. Also included are tips on food, kit and navigation and alternative itineraries.

The routes combine roads, tracks, lanes and bridleways to take you among, around and over the Lakeland Fells, with highlights including the iconic road climbs of Hardknott, Wrynose, Whinlatter and Honister; the off-road passes of Sticks Pass, Stake Pass and Black Sail; and the highest bridleway in England over Helvellyn, England's third highest mountain. The guide also features the classic Lakeland 200, which can be ridden over 5 days or completed as an Individual Time Trial.

Table of Contents

By Edward Hunton

Ed Hunton grew up in North Devon on the edge of Dartmoor and cycling was his main mode of transport. The unparalleled feeling of freedom his first bike afforded him on his adventures throughout South-West inspired a lifelong passion for cycling. Tours in Italy, Spain, Benelux, France and Cuba followed, with a mixture of campsites, wild camping and pensions being his preferred accommodation. A keen member of Audax, Ed has also completed the Trans Alba (an 800-mile circuit of Scotland), taken part in Bare Bones events and ridden countless sportives.

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