Frequently Asked Questions

How far is it/ how long will it take?

The Lakes & Dales Loop is a total of 196-miles. But how far and how quickly you travel will depend on how you want to experience the route.  You may want to sight-see en route, clock up the miles as a ‘challenge’, or get to your destination with time to look around.

An average cycling speed for many people is between 10-15 miles per hour.  So, if you were looking to do about 40 miles a day (4-5 hours ride time) you could do the whole route in 4-5 days.

The route has been divided into 6 sections, each section is between 27 and 38 miles long. The start and finish points of each section have been selected as ‘gateways’ to the route, due to their accessibility and/or level of facilities available. Read more about the 6 day, 5 day, 4 day, 3 day, 2 day and 1 day tour. There are also a series of loop route options.

So you could chose to do a day – out and back, or you could combine several sections over several days, or you could do a section each time you visit, working up to completing the whole route over a period of time.

You might also like to set yourself, friends, riding partners a challenge to do the route in 2, 3 or 4 stages?

Is the route signed?

The route is signposted throughout, with repeater signs using the Lakes & Dales Loop logo.

Lakes and Dales signage

There are also detailed route descriptions for each section, from which you can also follow the route / have available to refer to as a back-up.

Are there maps / guides available?

There is a printed overview map available as a PDF download,

You can also download GPX files. The GPX can be uploaded and used on a Garmin device.

As the route was only launched in March 2016, there are not yet any printed guides to the route, but since it is such a fantastic cycle trip, we are confident that, these will come on-line soon, in time for 2017!

What is the best way round to cycle the route?

The route descriptions have been written for cyclists travelling anti-clockwise around the route. Riding anti-clockwise reduces the number of right hand turns across roads, with less exposure to traffic.

However there are no ‘extreme’ hills that are better ridden in a particular direction. And being a circular route it is not as affected by a prevailing wind direction (which tends to be from the South West in Cumbria). Therefore it is perfectly possible to ride the route in either direction.

How young and fit do I need to be / are there lots of hills?

You can go cycle touring at any age! And the fitness level required will depend on the terrain and how far you plan to pedal each day. One of the great features of the Lakes & Dales Loop is that it is relatively flat.

So….if your aim is to travel about 40 miles each day, stopping to look at sights, have lunch etc. you should be fit enough if, for example, you just commute to work or ride fairly regularly for leisure at weekends.

Saddle-sore is the most common physical complaint of non-cyclists: avoid it by spending time on your bike before the trip.

What sort of bike should I use?

The route is suitable for a wide variety of bikes from light weight racing bikes through to tourers and even mountain bikes. Although there are no off-road sections on the Lakes & Dales Loop, if you have your own mountain bike, by replacing the tyres with ‘slicks’ it would be fine.

The key thing is that your bike should be in good working order, have a reasonable range of gears and good brakes.

What facilities are there along the route?

There are many food and drink providers on the route. Click here for more information.

Where can I hire a bike/find a bike shop?

There are many bike shops and places to hire bikes on the route. Click here for more information.

Where can I stay?

There are many accommodation providers on the route. Click here for more information.

What is a ‘cycle friendly’ establishment?

Some establishments have obtained ‘Cyclists Welcome’ accreditation to provide extra facilities and services. These might include:

  • Secure bike storage
  • Provision to dry wet clothing and gear
  • Availability of tools for simple bike repairs
  • Bike washing facilities
  • Useful information about services and cycle routes for cyclists in the area

Click here to view map.

What should I bring?

There are some key essentials that you should bring on any cycle ride, including a basic bike repair kit and pump (and know how to mend a puncture!), appropriate clothing for the time of year (including a light waterproof), food / snacks, water, some money/credit card.

Other useful items include: sunglasses and sunscreen (seasonal), a simple first aid kit, lights, bike lock and a mobile phone.

For more information on what to take click here.

Will I have mobile phone coverage?

Clearly it will vary depending on your network provider. For most of the route you should have coverage, but there are some areas where a signal may be weak or not available.

What’s the traffic like?

The route has been purposely chosen to avoid roads with heavy traffic. The majority of the route is on quiet, country lanes.

For more information about the route click here.

What’s the weather like?

The weather in Cumbria can be as variable as anywhere else in Britain. You could find yourself cycling in glorious sunshine or caught in a heavy downpour. The key thing is to come prepared. Whatever the forecast says it is worth packing a lightweight waterproof just in case – is useful protection against wind too.

The Met Office provides a forecast for the next five days in a range of locations in the Cumbria area.

Where’s a good place to start/finish?

There are a series of ‘gateways’ to the route that have been specially selected for their relative accessibility, as well as for the range of facilities they offer visitors on bike. The most obvious starting point is Penrith, being directly on the route, and having a mainline train station.

Further information on these gateways.

How do I get here?

Travel Advice for travel by: road, train, coach, sea and air, or bike.

Are there luggage transfer services?

Luggage transfer is available. Click here for more information.

Are there guided rides/tours?

Guided tours are available. Click here for more information.

How do I provide feedback on the route?

The route was launched in March 2016. So, we are particularly keen to hear how you got on – your feedback is really important, not only to help us raise the profile of the route, but also to ensure that we can continue to improve the quality of the cycling experience.

Please do share your experiences via Facebook and Twitter

If you’ve got photos or videos that you would be happy for us to use send them to

If you found somewhere good to stay/eat or other useful services not yet listed here then use our feedback form

If you would like to report anything wrong along the route eg. missing signs, incorrect route descriptions, potholes, obstructions please use our feedback form

And, of course, if you’ve  any general suggestions on what we can do to make a cycle ride on the Lakes & Dales Loop more fun and enjoyable please use our feedback form

Useful Links

Tourist Information Centres in Cumbria  (including close or on the route: Appleby, Broughton-in-Furness, Cockermouth, Grange-over-Sands, Kirkby Lonsdale, Penrith, Sedbergh)

Travel Advice for road, rail, coach, air, ferry and bike.

General information about visiting Cumbria: