Two days of the best road cycling in the Lake District
In this article, I outline our 2-day Lake District cycling route. This epic 2-day itinerary includes some of the toughest road cycling in the UK over four of the most challenging passes.
Cycling the Lake District
For this classic four day itinerary, members of Mashup & District Cycling Club arrived in the Lake District from London by train. Our 2-day itinerary for the ride was all about the passes: Honister, Whinlatter, Kirkstone, Wrynose and Hardnott.
We arrived by train into Cockermouth and over the two days made a loop back to the station. We stayed at YHA Borrowdale and YHA Hawkshead. Cycling the Lake District as a loop meant we could do a lot on a short weekend trip.
Hardknott Pass Cycle Route
This was one of the toughest bike routes in the UK that I’ve ever done. Unofficially, the Hardknott and Wrynose Pass are called the most outrageous roads in Britain. It’s easy to see why. They’re steep, narrow and wildly beautiful.
The Hardknott pass profile is immense. 393m of elevation over 2.2km with a gradient of 33%. It’s a bit of an animal.
On the day I attempted Hardknott Pass I was riding an old-school vintage steel-framed Raleigh racing bike. It has a huge chain ring 42 / 52 – set up for time trial and triathlon. Nothing like a modern bikes gear ratio and certainly not an easy beast to ride.
It’s the only climb I’ve ever dismounted for – I had to push most of the way up.
Cycling Up Hardknott Pass
Frustratingly, I failed to get even a few hundred metres up the climb. I bonked shortly before the beginning of the climb and as the road kicked up into Hardknott Pass I slowed to a precarious wobble before crashing down to the ground. I simply couldn’t turn the pedals quick enough.
Adrian made it all the way up without a hitch, his Genesis sports tourer making light work of the steepest climb in the Lakes. I plan to return on a more suitable machine for a rematch.
Buy 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs* on Amazon.
Cycling the Lake District Passes
Cycling the Lake District passes was a classic ride indeed, taking in some of the toughest climbs in the country. Our Lake District 2-day itinerary included Honiter Pass, Whinlatter Pass, Wrynose Pass and Hardnott Pass. This Lake District road cycling route is not for the faint-hearted.
We planned this Cumbrian bike ride using the 100 Greatest cycling Climbs as inspiration. Adrian had gifted me a copy and we were keen to get out on the bikes to test our mettle.
Mashup & District Cycling Club rides are often deliberately challenging and ideally somewhere that we haven’t cycled before. Our intention is to stretch the legs, get out in nature and drink in the fresh air of the high passes.
This Cumbrian route fit the bill perfectly. A group ride in the Lakes was just the ticket since there were so many awesome bike routes in the Lake District.
I’d recommend this challenging Lake District road cycling route for more advanced riders. It’s a lot of elevation gain in unforgiving terrain. I found it all a bit much. I was out of shape mentally and physically. The second half of the day was punishing.
That said, I was happy to have had a weekend away with the lads riding our bikes. The scenery more than made up for the gruelling schedule and a pint at the end of the day always puts things right.
Our two day Lake District road cycling route was not dissimilar to the route of the Fred Whitton Challenge – arguably the UK’s toughest sportive event. There are easy bike routes to be had in the Lakes. This is not one of them.