The Lake District is one big outdoor playground, and cyclists will find plenty to enjoy amidst the fells and country roads! Whether you’re a beginner looking for a gentle ride, punctuated by beautiful viewpoints and cosy cafes; or an experienced mountain biker with a thirst for adventure, there’s sure to be something for you in the Lakes.
There are plenty of places to hire a bike in, and around, Ambleside. Ghyllside Cycles in Ambleside and the Country Lanes Cycle Centre in Windermere both offer a range of bikes, from mountain to road, and are also able to offer advice on where to go. Bringing your own bike? We have secure bicycle storage available here at Elder Grove.
Ambleside offers a large number of great cycle routes – read on for 7 of our favourite.
1. Ambleside to Windermere
Nearby Windermere is a popular tourist destination – and can easily be reached by bike from Ambleside! A 4.5 mile, mostly flat, route along the main road connects Ambleside to Windermere by both car and bike. Along the way, enjoy beautiful views over Lake Windermere; and a stop off at the Brockhole Lake District Visitor Centre which can be found en-route. Once in Windermere, browse the local shops and stop off for a drink, before heading on to Bowness and Lake Windermere, which stands just over a mile away.
2. A Tour of the Langdales
Made up of Little and Great Langdale, the beautiful Langdale Valley makes for a simply stunning place to explore on two wheels. Cycle paths and bridleways mean it’s easily accessible via mountain bike, with the option to enjoy shorter rides or a circular route around the entire valley. Fells and mountains such as Crinkle Crags, Pike o’ Blisco, Wetherlam and Swirl Howe can all be seen from the valley, forming a part of the impressive mountain views which can be enjoyed on a bike ride through the Langdales. There are plenty of pubs and cafes around, which make great places to stop for refreshments; as well as beautiful tarns and waters, which are just perfect for picnics on a sunny day.
3. Biking in Grizedale Forest
Grizedale Forest stands just over 8 miles from Ambleside and is easily accessible via car, or seasonal public transport. A stunning area of woodland in the heart of the Lake District, Grizedale is packed with fantastic off road cycling trails for all levels. Mountain bikes are available to hire on site, while visitors are also welcome to bring their own. There’s also a cafe and visitor centre, as well as picnic spots with stunning views over the surrounding area.
4. Ambleside to Grasmere
A lovely route which takes cyclists off the road and onto some truly stunning country trails, biking from Ambleside to Grasmere is a great option for a full day out. Beginning at Elder Grove, the route heads through town and across Rothay Park, before opening up onto pretty country lanes and bridleways alongside the River Rothay. Cycle past the picturesque lakes of Rydal Water and Grasmere, stopping to admire the view and take a breather, before arriving in Grasmere to explore the village and enjoy a spot of lunch. Then it’s time to head back to Ambleside, making this a round trip of about 10 miles, taking in some gorgeous views along the way.
5. Ambleside to Hawkshead
There are a number of cycle routes which will take visitors from Ambleside to Hawkshead – each of which boasts its own beautiful scenery, as well as a combination of road and bridleway cycling. One option is to head down to Wray Castle, before biking along the shores of Lake Windermere towards Hill Top Farm. Stop here to visit the former home of Beatrix Potter, before continuing on towards Esthwaite Water and Hawkshead village. The same route can then be taken to return to Ambleside; alternatively, cyclists can head up Hawkshead Hill and on towards Barngates, stopping for a drink at the Drunken Duck Inn, before returning to Ambleside.
Note: The above two routes can be combined by cycling from Ambleside to Coniston, then on to Hawkshead before heading back into Ambleside.
6. Ambleside to Coniston
Cycling from Ambleside to Coniston is not only a great way to get from one pretty Lakeland village to another; it’s also a beautiful (and well signposted) cycle route, which takes in Skelwith Bridge and Elterwater along the way. From Ambleside, head out along the Under Loughrigg Road, with both on and off road cycling, before arriving at Skelwith Bridge for a break at Chesters by the River. From here, it’s on to Coniston along the Coniston Route 37 cycle path. Once in Coniston, there is the option to cycle around Coniston Water (a scenic route of around 14 miles). Alternatively, relax and explore Coniston’s shops, pubs and cafes; or head to the lake for a picnic and a well earned break before biking back to Ambleside.
7. Biking at Tarn Hows
Tarn Hows is a popular area nestled among the Lakeland fells, close to Hawkshead, Coniston and Ambleside. It is a beautiful place for a picnic and a walk around the Tarn – and in the summer months, can get fairly busy! It also makes for a lovely bike ride from Ambleside, offering on and off road cycling; a number of steeper hill climbs; and plenty of pubs and cafes at which to stop for a break along the way. Upon arrival at Tarn Hows, leave your bike locked up at one of the bike racks, before taking a walk around the Tarn to make the most of its stunning scenery. Then it’s back to Ambleside via Elterwater and Skelwith Force, along pretty riverside paths and Cycle Route 37.
Here at Elder Grove, we are on hand to provide advice and information about cycle routes around Ambleside, and are always happy to help! The Go Lakes website also has a great list of cycle routes in the Lake District which are well worth a look. It’s worth noting that a number of local buses will accept bikes on board – so if your ride gets too long, or the weather turns against you, you may be able to catch the bus back to Ambleside! Get in touch with Stagecoach to check whether bikes are accepted on your route.