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Cycling in the Lake District

The Fred Whitton Challenge, week-long tours and day rides

Guidebook to the Fred Whitton Challenge ride (179km/112 miles over 7 iconic passes) and an alternative 5-day tour of the Lake District, plus 15 tough day rides from Keswick, Ambleside, Penrith and bases to the southwest and southeast of the National Park, taking in the best of the area's road cycling.


The best time to go touring in the Lake District is between April and October, when the days are longer and the weather is at its best. But even then, you will undoubtedly get wet and experience blustery days. So be prepared for them. As a general rule always plan your route so that you are riding south to north with the prevailing south westerly winds.


Ambleside, Grasmere, Troutbeck, Shap, Penrith, Stainton, Keswick, Cockermouth, Eskdale Green, Ravenglass, Broughton in Furness, Grizedale, Cartmel, Grange-over-Sands, Bassenthwaite, Buttermere


Each tour stage and day ride and is graded on two criteria: distance with rides categorised as short, medium or long, and total ascent with rides categorised as easy, moderate, hard or challenging. Easy - smooth pedalling with gentle inclines Moderate - undulating with an occasional steady climb, but nothing to get you out of the saddle Hard - involves some hard climbs with gradients up to 10 per cent Challenging - long steep ascents or multiple short sharp gradients that will most definitely hurt. Inevitably, the majority of rides fall into the latter categories.

Must See

Incredible scenery and rare wildlife - the Lake District is England's largest national park; local craft breweries; local foods; Kirkstone Pass; Hardknott Pass; the impressive panorama of Yewbarrow, Kirkfell, Great Gable and Scafell Pike from Wasdale Head
18 Mar 2024
17.20 x 11.60 x 1.25cm

A guidebook to the 179 km (112 mile) Fred Whitton Challenge plus a five-day cycle tour and 15 challenging day rides in the Lake District. The routes are centred around Keswick, Ambleside, Penrith, and the southwest and southeast regions of the National Park.

The day rides vary in length between 31 and 68 km (19-42 miles) with difficulty ratings from moderate to challenging. The Fred Whitton Challenge covers over 180 km (112 miles) including the famous Hardknott Pass whilst the alternate five-day cycle varies in length from 14 to 75 kms (9-46 miles) each day totalling 478 km (297 miles).

  • Full logistical information, advice, and tips for the Fred Whitton Challenge 
  • 1:100,000 or 1:200,000 mapping included for each route
  • Many different routes included with varying difficulty 
  • GPX files available to download 
  • Elevation profiles included for each route

Table of Contents
Richard Barrett Cicerone author BARRETT

By Richard Barrett

Richard Barrett spent his working life as a professional marketer, but still found time for climbing, winter mountaineering and sea kayaking. He first visited the Harris hills as a teenager and became a regular visitor. He lived in North Harris for a number of years, where he and his wife ran a guest house and, although now a city-dweller, he still makes frequent forays to the Hebrides, reconnecting with the wilderness and catching up with old friends.

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