One-day ride: Penrith
The gateway to the Lake District makes the perfect base for our challenging ride
THE LAKE DISTRICT is full of lakes for a reason: get unlucky and you’ll find it can really rain up here on England’s north-west coast. But when the sun is out there’s no more beautiful place to be — though people know that and it gets busy in the tourist season.
A great ride in the Lakes requires luck and careful timing. For us, late spring or early summer is ideal: better chance of good weather but, while the schools are in, a better chance of having this magnificent landscape to yourself, especially midweek.
This full one-day ride ticks off the ‘greatest hits’ of the Lake District passes – Hardknott, Wrynose, Honister, Whinlatter and Kirkstone – as well as a side-trip to Wasdale Head, at the foot of England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. It also throws in some less-well known back roads. Many are bumpy and most are narrow: this is a long, quite challenging ride – but a massively rewarding one.
STAGE ONE Penrith to Buttermere 45 miles
Leave Penrith on the A6 heading north towards Carlisle. At the first roundabout, take the second exit for the B5305 to Wigtown and the M6. At the motorway, go straight over the roundabout and stay on the B5305 for six-and-a-half miles. Take the minor left turn for Hesket Newmarket. Follow the road through Caldbeck as it becomes the B5299 to Uldale. When the road forks on the moors, keep going straight on (signposted for Keswick). Stay on the road all the way to the A591 and turn left to Keswick. Go straight over the A66 roundabout and into Keswick. Turn left at the T-junction to go down the high street and turn right at the miniroundabout, on the B5289 to Borrowdale. Stay on this over Honister Pass, all the way to Buttermere. Morning coffee Syke Farm Tea Room As you come into Buttermere, past the chapel and the turning to Keswick, the road swings left. Round the corner on the left is Syke Farm, with its excellent tea room (good cakes and ice cream).
STAGE TWO Buttermere to Wasdale Head 45 miles
From Buttermere take the turning by the chapel for the minor road to Keswick (on your right coming into the village, on the left if back-tracking from Syke Farm). Stay on it all the way to Braithwaite and turn left on the B5292 over Whinlatter pass. Turn right at the T-junction/island to stay on the B5292 to Cockermouth and after a mile or so, turn left on the minor road to Eaglesfield and Brigham. When this meets the A5086, turn left to Lamplugh. After six miles turn left on the minor road to Ennerdale and Low Cock How. Go through Ennerdale and, leaving the village, turn left on the minor road to Calder Bridge and Gosforth. At the A595 turn left to Gosforth. After two
miles, turn left to go into Gosforth, go straight over the miniroundabout and follow the road all the way to Wast Water. At the T-junction by the lake, turn left to go to Wasdale Head.
Lunch Wasdale Head Inn Unless you’re carrying a packed lunch, you’re eating at the Wasdale Head Inn. There’s everything from sandwiches (good and reasonable) to proper cooked pub lunches. www.wasdale.com
STAGE THREE Wasdale Head to Newby Bridge 40 miles
Head back along the shores of Wast Water and after about five miles take the minor left-hand turn for Santon Bridge. At the T-junction turn left to Eskdale. Stay on this road for three miles and, opposite the King George pub, turn left for Boot and Hardknott Pass. After the pass, go over the Cockley Beck cattle grid and turn left to go over Wrynose Pass. At the A593, turn right to Coniston. In the centre of Coniston, turn left to Hawkshead on the B5285 — turn right to stay on this road when it stops at a T-junction. Cross Hawkshead and turn right to Grizzedale. Turn left on the A590 and at the roundabout, turn left on the A592 to Bowness. After one mile, turn left into the National Trust’s Fell Foot Park.
Afternoon Tea The Boathouse Café The café with the million-dollar panorama, on the water’s edge with a spectacular view up Windermere. Good food and drink at sensible prices. It’s part of the National Trust’s facility, so there’s a parking charge for non-members. www.national-trust.org.uk/fell-foot
STAGE FOUR Newby Bridge to Penrith 40 miles
Turn left out of the National Trust car park and take the first right: the back road to Cartmel Fell. When it meets the A5074, turn right to Kendal and at the next corner, go straight on (a left turn) to Crossthwaite. Follow the road all the way into Kendal and the signs for Windermere. At the A591 roundabout, go straight on to Windermere. At the mini-roundabout in Windermere, turn right on the A592 to Kirkstone Pass. Follow the road all round Ullswater, as it becomes the B5320 to Pooley Bridge. When the road meets the A6, turn left to return to Penrith.
The Hardknott Pass — not for the faint-hearted but worth the effort...