- Cycling routes that concentrate around England’s largest lake, Windermere
- Delighting in scenic ferry rides across the lake and a steam train to Newby Bridge
- Wandering through ancient Cartmel Priory, a place of pilgrimage for over 800 years
- Admiring the home and gardens of William Wordsworth at Rydal Mount
- Majestic mountain views, bejeweled lakes and peaceful shorelines
- Pedaling through Near Sawrey and to Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s former home
- Stopping for cosy pub lunches in villages surrounded by iconic Lake District scenery
Glistening Lake Windermere stretches north to south for over 10 miles and your leisurely cycle routes are focused in the very heart of this stunning region, within the Lake District National Park. Based in one lovely and very welcoming guest house, this tour offers scenic ferry rides over the lake and stream trains to many of the region’s highlights.
With its lake-jewelled valleys, dramatic mountains and peaceful lakeshores, the Lake District was the inspiration for poets, artists and writers such as Wordsworth, Constable and Beatrix Potter. It is also home to England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike; its deepest lake, Wastwater and its largest lake, Windermere.
Your first ride takes you from the town of Windermere (your base for the next 5 nights) down quiet back lanes through tiny hamlets and past a nature reserve. After a scenic sail on a lake ferry, arrive in the village of Ambleside and begin a ride through the Vale of Rydal, a place that Wordsworth described as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”.
Beatrix Potter lived in the village of Near Sawrey and one of the cycles takes you through here, providing the chance to visit Hill Top, her home. Also on this route is picturesque Hawkshead which has delightful architecture and a gallery where you can see some of Beatrix Potter’s paintings.
The final day of cycling takes you on a ferry to Newby Bridge, the southern most point of Lake Windermere and to Cartmel, where you will find an ancient priory. Pilgrimages have taken place here for over 800 years! Also en route is Holker Hall and Gardens, the home of Lord and Lady Cavendish and well worth a visit. A stream train takes you back to the pier at Lakeside from Haverthwaite.
Your 6 day self-guided cycling tour in The Lake District includes 5 nights in a Windermere Guest House (superior rooms), 5 breakfasts, maps, route notes and a comprehensive information pack. You may hire a bike as an optional extra.
DAY 1: Arrive Windermere
Windermere is named after the lake which shimmers and stretches for over 10 miles from Ambleside to Newby Bridge. Here we have chosen a guest house (using superior rooms) that is within walking/cycling distance of both Windermere and Bowness, its twin town which is situated next to the lake. This will be your base for the next five nights as you explore the numerous nearby places by bike, ferry and steam train.
This excellent guest house, with its award-winning full English breakfasts, offers you a very warm welcome, spacious and beautifully decorated rooms (we book the superior doubles, or luxury doubles) and free WiFi. There is also a lovely conservatory where you can sit and relax at the end of your day of cycling.
DAY 2: Cycle Loop from Windermere—17 miles
Stunning views and quiet lanes makes today’s cycle a superb day-long ride. Set off from your guest house and head south and west which eventually brings you to Crook, a little village which is surrounded by views of rolling hills and the Lyth and Winster Valleys. Follow small lanes to Crosthwaite and on to Bowland Bridge, where there are a choice of pubs for lunch, the Hare and Hounds or after a brief uphill section, the Mason’s Arms at Strawberry Bank.
After a stop for lunch pass by the Barkbooth Lot Nature Reserve that consists of rough fell, grassland, wetland and wooded areas providing a diverse habitat where dragonflies, damselflies and the rare high brown fritillary butterfly abound.
Arrive back into Windermere this afternoon. Relax in the conservatory at your guest house with a well-deserved cup of tea before heading out for dinner in a local restaurant.
DAY 3: Wordsworth & Grasmere Cycle Loop—24 miles
Wordsworth said that The Vale of Rydal was “The loveliest spot that man hath ever found”. Today you will have a chance to see this for yourself as this is the route your cycle loop takes. First board a ferry in Bowness (payable locally) which will take you to Ambleside, at the very north of the lake and from here make your way to Rydal, a tiny hamlet much loved by lakeland visitors in all seasons. Wordsworth lived here after his move from Grasmere and you can visit his famous home and gardens at Rydal Mount.
Cycle on to Grasmere, beautifully located in the very heart of the national park. The Wordsworth family are buried in the churchyard in the centre of the village. Continue on around Grasmere Lake and further south past sparkling Loughrigg Tarn, surrounded by sloping pasture. After making your way through more glorious countryside you board the ferry in Ambleside back to Bowness.
DAY 4: Hawkshead & Beatrix Potter Loop—15 miles
The day begins with a short but scenic ferry ride (payable locally) across Lake Windermere to the pier at Ferry House. Upon arrival take a picturesque route alongside the lake and then take the lanes towards the charming village of Hawkshead. You'll enjoy exploring its pedestrian streets and beautiful architecture. This area was also the home of Beatrix Potter and the route continues to Near Sawrey where you can visit Hill Top, her former home.
Make your way back to the landing pier and take the return ferry to Bowness.
DAY 5: Cycle Lakeside through medieval Cartmel—31 miles
Today is a highlight of your tour as the cycle route involves taking a lovely ferry ride to the most southern part of Lake Windermere to the Lakeside pier near Newby Bridge. Follow back lanes to the charming village of Cartmel. Continuing to Haverthwaite, you can board a steam train which will take you back to Lakeside. (Ferry and train tickets payable locally).
En route you will also cycle through Cartmel and perhaps visit the ancient priory, a place of pilgrimage for over 800 years. Also worth a stop with its impressive gardens is Holker Hall.
DAY 6: Onward Travel
The tour finishes after breakfast and you can make your way by to Windermere Railway Station in order to continue your onward journey.
During this tour you will stay in a comfortable 4 star rated B&B. We will always try and accommodate you at the location detailed below, but on occasion, especially during peak season, we use an alternate accommodation of equal or higher standard.
Single Rooms & Solo Cyclists
If you're travelling with
family or friends but prefer your own room, this can be arranged for a
supplementary payment. This trip is also suitable for solo travellers.
Prices for solo cyclists can be found on our dates and prices page.
Breakfast is included each day at your hotel and
usually consists of fresh pastries, breads, fruits, yogurts, granola and of course, a traditional English breakfast. If you have special dietary requirements do let us
know at the time of booking. Lunches and dinners are not included but
there are places to stop along or you can take supplies with you. As you will be staying
the heart of Windermere, there are extensive cafes and
restaurants to choose from in the evening and your hosts are always happy to help with suggestions.
Fir Tree Guest House - Windermere
Trees Guest House is within easy walking
distance of both Windermere and Bowness, and also the lake itself. This
provides a most convenient location, close to the many amenities, yet by
being just outside the village centres themselves, it also ensures you peace
and quiet. Fir Trees guest house in Windermere has private off-road parking and
serves as an excellent base from which to explore the Lake District by bike. We also
offer all our guests free WIFI access and the use of a local hotels leisure
facilities during their stay at Fir Trees Guest House.
You can start this tour anytime between April and October
This tour can be enjoyed in the spring, summer or autumn/fall. Spring is great as it's not too busy and the flowers will be blooming. Summer is a bit busier but still pleasurable and autumn/fall will again be quieter. September can be beautiful! Rain can occur however at any time of year in the Lake District so come prepared with good waterproofs! You can start on any date that suits your travel plans.
You will be provided with detailed route notes and maps to help you find your way. Most of the time you will be cycling on quiet back roads, however, in order to connect the various routes, you may have short cycles on main roads.
Experience & Fitness
This tour is suitable for most people that are in good physical condition. It is rated easy to moderate but there will be some elevation gains and losses. Although there are a few hills, we have tried to select routes that are relatively flat, for example around lakes. Also, the mileages are fairly short, so there will be plenty of time during the day to do all the cycle loops and still have time to stop for visits and lunches in pubs, etc
Our pre-departure information pack has detailed advice and a kit list on what to take. This includes good waterproof cycling gear and lots of other useful bits and bobs.
Bike hire is available as an optional extra. A good quality Trek Hybrid bike is available which may be picked up and dropped off at the bike shop which is in the Windermere Railway Station, about one mile from your accommodation. Full details about the bike will be in your information pack. All rentals include a helmet, rear rack with pannier, pump, puncture/tool kit, spare inner tube and a lock.
Please note that if you do want to rent a bike you need to provide us with your height so that we can make sure that the bike is going to be a good fit.
It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.
The distances and ascents/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for the summer, and a daypack.
Getting to and from Windermere
By Air and Train—The closest airport to Windermere is Manchester Airport. From Manchester Airport you can take a train to Windermere. A couple of trains per day are direct but on most services you have to make a change in Oxenholme. The journey takes approximately 2 to 2h30. Windermere is also accessible from London Euston Station , once more with a change in Oxenholme and the journey takes between 3 and 4 hours. More information on train times and schedules can be found on the National Rail website.
You can also drive and parking is available at your accommodation.
- 5 Nights in a Guest House
- 5 Breakfasts
- Detailed maps, information pack, and route notes
- 24-7 assistance and backup from our team
- Travel to and from Windermere
- Ferries on Lake Windermere
- Steam Train from Haverthwaite to Lakeside
- Dinners and lunches
- Bike Rental
- Drinks and snacks
- Personal equipment
- Travel insurance
- Additional nights before or after the tour
- Single room supplement if single room required
- Solo traveller supplement (if applicable)
- Bike rental is available
Planning a cycling holiday can be daunting, especially if this is your first long distance cycling holiday. We are often asked the following questions and I hope that you will find the answers useful.
How fit do I need to be?
We offer two itineraries so you can choose your preferred daily distance so hopefully you will find an itinerary that suits your preferred level of activity. If you currently don’t enjoy an active lifestyle we suggest regular cycling in hilly terrain supplemented by cardio vascular exercise for at least 6 months prior to your cycle. A good gym or personal trainer will be able to draw up a personalised training programme.
How far in advance do I need to book?
We suggest you book as soon as your plans are finalised as Hadrian's
Wall Cycleway is extremely popular especially over April/May and
July/August. You will find up to date availability on our website and we
will always try and accommodate your plans.
What personal equipment do I need?
You will need a bike in good condition, we would recommend a hybrid or a mountain bike with semi slick tires. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard cycling gear such as helmet, cycling clothes warm and waterproof clothes and a day pack.
When is the best time of year?
Traditionally April/May has always been the most popular time of year because the theory goes that the weather is better. Although I believe any time between late March and October offers a wonderful experience.
What happens if I can’t cycle a stage?
You can use public transport, the Hadrian's Wall bus or local taxis to continue to your next overnight stop. The Hadrian's Wall bus can take bikes but these must be booked on in advance.