One-day ride: Pen­rith

The gate­way to the Lake District makes the per­fect base for our chal­leng­ing ride

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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.was­

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.­

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...

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