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Bikepacking in the hills of the Lake District — Lakeland 300

lutmans (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Bikepacking in the hills of the Lake District — Lakeland 300

Mountain Biking Collection by Katherine Moore

5

Tours

25:51 h

186 mi

20,950 ft

The work of local mountain biker and bikepacker Chris Hope, the Lakeland 300 is a 186 mile (300 km) lap of the Lake District taking in some of the most dramatic mountain climbs and breathtaking views the national park has to offer.

If you’ve got legs like Chris, who placed second in the gruelling Highland Trail 550 in 2017, then you might want to tackle this challenging route in as little time as possible. If you do want to race against the clock to find out what you're capable of as an ITT (Individual Time Trial), the time to beat is an eye-watering 21 hours and 37 minutes. Alternatively you can take your time to tour the route, which we’ve divided up here into five stages for you to ride at your own pace.

The value of local knowledge is more than evident as you ride the Lakeland 300, as these are the routemaker’s regular training trails. From Lake District mountain biking classics like Loughrigg Terrace, Walna Scar Road, Garburn Pass and Skelghyll Wood to lesser known sections, you’ll be blown away by the variety and scale of the landscapes along the route.

Although there are some roads, quiet lanes and gravel tracks, a mountain bike is best for the Lakeland 300. There are a number of sections that have really challenging terrain, like the famous Lonscale Crags, Walna Scar Road and Parkamoor. Besides the technical terrain, there are also some really steep inclines, so mountain bike gearing is a real plus, especially if you’re carrying the extra weight of overnight gear. There will most likely be some hike-a-bike too, so either mountain bike shoes or flats are a good idea.

Officially, the loop starts and ends in Cockermouth in the west, though it may be easier to join in the east if you’re travelling by train, as the nearest stations are in Penrith and Carlisle, which are both on the West Coast main Line. From Penrith train station to the route near Pooley Bridge is a short 5.2 mile (8.4 km) ride. If you’re travelling to the start by car, you can find long stay parking close to the town centre in Cockermouth.

There are a number of options for overnight stays along the route, and it’s always worth booking ahead in the more popular summer season. Choose from campsites, youth hostels, inns, hotels and guesthouses, depending on what degree of luxury you fancy!

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The Lakeland 300

185 mi

20,975 ft

20,950 ft

Last updated: November 19, 2021

Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Stage 1: Cockermouth to Keswick — Lakeland 300

    Difficult
    04:17
    31.1 mi
    7.3 mph
    3,175 ft
    3,075 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    Starting in Cockermouth, the Lake District town where the bikepacking route’s creator Chris Hope lives, the first stage of the Lakeland 300 takes you to the popular Lakes town of Keswick. Don’t expect a direct and easy route though, as this meandering stage heads up to the northern limits of the Lake

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    05:57
    35.8 mi
    6.0 mph
    5,775 ft
    5,525 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The second stage of the Lakeland 300 covers the north-eastern part of the loop, linking Keswick to Kentmere via a leg out to Pooley Bridge near Penrith. If you’re planning on travelling to the Lake District to do the loop by train, this is the best place to join the route.

    

    The first half of the second

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    05:17
    42.1 mi
    8.0 mph
    3,950 ft
    4,150 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    From Kentmere to Near Sawrey, the third stage is a very meandering Tour taking in almost two loops, west and east, before heading south to the small village. Therefore, it’s easy to shorten this stage if you would like to, or take a diversion to visit the town of Windermere on the edge of the lake.

    

    Begin

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    05:07
    34.1 mi
    6.7 mph
    4,550 ft
    4,700 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary. Some portions of the Tour may require you to push your bike.

    The penultimate stage links the villages of Near Sawrey and Boot, as the most southern end of the loop around Coniston Water and through the Grizedale Forest trail centre.

    

    Take in the southern shores of Esthwaite Water to start, passing the fishery and climbing up into Grizedale Forest along the Grizedale

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    05:13
    42.6 mi
    8.2 mph
    3,500 ft
    3,450 ft
    Expert mountain bike ride. Very good fitness required. Advanced riding skills necessary.

    The final stage of the Lakeland 300 skirts the western edge of the national park, linking up the little white-washed village of Boot to the town of Cockermouth via a ride along Wast Water, Lowther Estate cycle trails and Loweswater Lake.

    

    There’s no gentle introduction to this stage, as you’re straight

    by Katherine Moore

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    5
  • Distance
    186 mi
  • Duration
    25:51 h
  • Elevation
    20,950 ft

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