Lake District

Rider: Joe Reid

Joe’s route is the first day of Brake the Cycle’s ‘Coast to Coast’ ride. Cyclists can pick this route up at Whitehaven and take it through the stunning backdrop of the Lake District National Park before either heading back on the train from Penrith or finishing the day at one of the Lakes’ many campsites.

The route starts in Whitehaven, a beautiful coastal town in West Cumbria. Here you pick up the ride on what was once an old railway line – now a dedicated cycle route. An easy start, this takes you out of town on a flat ride through Moor Row and Cleator Moor. As you make your way through the hills, you’ll start to see the mountains of the Lake District approaching.

About 30km into the Lakes you’ll come through Lorton, where there’s a great community- run village shop which is perfect for a coffee and snack stop. Try to refuel here before you head any further, because soon after is Whinlatter Pass where the climb is notorious. Although it’s not super steep, it is relentless. There are great views and another coffee stop when you get to the top, as well as some loos and walks for those who want to take in the scenery.

After a quick stop here, it’s all about bombing it down the other side. There are some great hairpin turns and incredible vistas of the lakes – if you can keep your eyes off the road long enough to enjoy them!

Then it’s on through Braithwaite and just a short distance to Keswick, which is bustling with places to grab lunch and a great opportunity to detour down to Lake Derwent. There’s an outdoor theatre by the lake, with lots of picnic benches and picturesque spots to take in the views by the water.

As you head back on the road, you’ll end up following a road that goes past a closed gate. So while there are some cars occasionally, past this point it’s pretty car-free – which is great if you’re cycling in groups. After a while on this path, there are a few switches over the A66, but everything is clearly signposted and easy to do.

At this point you’re nearing the end. It’s a hilly ride as you continue the route down to Ullswater where there are some great camping spots. Alternatively, take the B road down to Penrith, where you can catch a train home.

And don’t forget – the weather can change in an instant in the Lake District, so bring gear for all weathers!

about the rider

Joe Reid is Founder of Brake the Cycle, which organises sustainable and nature-inspired cycling holidays. It has undertaken transformational adventures since 2011, riding through some of the UK and Europe's most spectacular landscapes and choosing inspirational and eco-friendly stops along the way.

beauty in the balance

The Lake District has been experiencing erratic weather patterns, including disastrous floods in 2009 and droughts in 2010
Species that are endemic to the Lake District are on the verge of extinction, including the mountain ringlet butterfly and the Arctic charr, which has been here since the Ice Age.
As temperatures rise and alter landscapes, the mountain ringlet has experienced significant habitat loss - with populations moving 150m uphill in the past 50 years.
Since 1970, the global average temperature has been rising at a rate of 1.7°C per century

what to see and do

Castlerigg Stone Circle

Take a detour to stand in the middle of this stone circle raised in around 3000BC

Whinlatter Forest Park

Adventure fans can have a go at zip lines and rope courses at the top of Whinlatter.

Aira Force Waterfall

Towards your last stop, this stunning waterfall offers amazing nature trails and viewpoints by Ullswater.


If you have some time at the start of the route, check out Whitehaven’s harbour which dates back to 1633

ride guide: the who, what & where

for a pitstop

Lorton Village Shop stocks coffee, handicrafts and groceries from local suppliers.

for repairs & maintenance

Keswick Bikes in the heart of the Lake District can help with any bike repairs or gear.

for meeting the locals

Lake Road Club hosts four rides throughout the week, for anyone wanting to get involved.

for a place to stay

Try camping at Park Foot Holiday Park around Lake Ullswater – but remember to book in advance if you’re in a group.

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