Finding a safe place to cycle in the heart of the Lake District has never been easy, with busy traffic squeezing into the narrow valleys.
A new series of off-road cycle routes aims to change that – and the first one opens on 15 July. The Langdale Trail runs from Ambleside, at the north end of Windermere, up the picturesque Langdale valley to Skelwith Bridge and Elterwater.
Here, a brand new traffic-free path continues to Sticklebarn, the only pub in Britain run by the National Trust, beside Dungeon Ghyll. Cycle route signs have been erected to point the way.
David Robinson from the Lake District National Park Authority explained:
“Before the new trail, people couldn’t really cycle along the scenic route between Elterwater and Dungeon Ghyll without either having a mountain bike or going on the road. This is a great way for people to safely cycle one of the Lake District’s most iconic valleys.”
The full eight-mile route will be opened with a guided ride on Tuesday 15 July, starting at Rothay Park in Ambleside at 10am.
More local routes
The Langdale Trail is one of several routes being created under the multimillion-pound ‘Go Lakes’ programme. Other new routes are to include:
- Ambleside to Grasmere: At present, the only option for cyclists is to follow the busy, narrow and dangerous A591 road. Work is now underway on a route linking the two settlements. A footbridge is being replaced with a wider cycle bridge with ramps, and the highly scenic but rocky Rydal bridleway is being resurfaced to become more bike-friendly. However, there is some disquiet among local councillors about the route out of Ambleside itself, which is proposed to run through a popular park.
- Cycle route along Grasmere: A planning application has been lodged for a new route alongside Grasmere itself. The designers say “We are aware of the sensitivities of the proposals on what is an iconic part of the Lake District landscape and have worked hard to present proposals that we think will protect the lakeshore habitat and landscape but also modernise the rights of way network in the area that meets the needs of all users.” The application is due to be considered by the National Park this month.
- Windermere West Shore: Already open, this route using existing bridleways along the west shore of Lake Windermere has been resurfaced at a cost of £75,000. Starting at the car ferry terminal on the west bank, the four-mile route runs north to Wray Castle.
- Wray Castle to Hawkshead: From here, a new route is proposed to run to the popular village of Hawkshead, being developed in conjunction with the National Trust.
At the same time, for those who prefer to ride on-road, new cycle route signs are being installed around the area to suggest the quietest roads. These should be in place by the summer. They will be accompanied by increased cycle parking at locations including Stavely, Coniston, and Grasmere.