Touring Advice

The following advice is mainly aimed at cycle tourers ie. those who are intending to take 2 or more days to cycle part, or all, of the Lakes & Dales Loop.

If you are planning a single day trip the following information should still be of interest, especially the kit list (for those essential items like water, food, basic puncture/tool kit, and sufficient warm/waterproof clothing for the conditions).

Self-guided or with a tour operator?

Depends on whether you want to be independent to explore in your own way, or happy to have everything organised for you. If you go with a tour operator make sure you select a trip that matches your fitness level. With a tour it’s likely your belongings will be bussed between overnight stops, your accommodation and food prebooked and there’ll be a mechanic either riding with you or in a support vehicle.

Listings of tour operators

Should I take my own bike or hire one locally?

Depends on how suitable your bike is for touring really. If you ride your bike regularly, it is in good working order and it is going to be relatively easy to transport to/from the route you will probably enjoy riding your own bike more.

Listings and map of bike hire locations

Do I need special insurance?

If you have a generic travel insurance policy, read the small print carefully and check their policy on cycle touring, theft of cycling accessories, and repatriation of your bike in a medical emergency.

How much do I need to know about bike mechanics?

It is a good idea to have some basic bike mechanics skills such as how to change an inner tube, repair punctures, replace a chain link and adjust derailleurs and brakes. This is relatively simple to learn and very satisfying when you know how! Ask a cycling friend to give you some lessons, or sign up to a basic bike mechanics course (your local bike shop should be able to help).

There are a number of bike shops close to/on the Lakes & Dales Loop if you need help when out on the route.

What should I take?

Much will depend on personal preference and the time of year you are touring. If you are travelling independently and carrying your own kit you will clearly want to travel as light as possible! Many of the items below you won’t need if you are on a guided tour.


  • Cycling gloves (help reduce impact on your hands and arms)
  • Padded shorts. (You can combine with overshorts of your choice. 1 or 2 pairs depending on length of your trip) (recommended)
  • Wicking top / merino base layer (one or more depending on the length of trip) (essential)
  • Sturdy trainers (or SPD shoes and pedals)
  • Helmet (not compulsory in UK)
  • Lightweight trousers (for colder weather) Leggings can be a flexible, light alternative.
  • Waterproofs (lightweight & reflective ideally) (essential)
  • Fleece/polartec jacket (for colder weather/at night) (essential)
  • Thin wool hat (for colder weather/at night)
  • Sun hat
  • Socks (waterproof socks can be very comfortable when wet!)
  • Whatever you want to wear in evenings/days off (keep this minimal if carrying your own kit, flip flops are handy if warm weather)
  • Mobile phone (reception may be patchy in places)

Bike kit

The following list is a suggested minimum kit list. What additional spares/tools you decide to take is personal preference.

  • A well-serviced bike suitable for touring (good quality tourer, hybrid or mountain bike with relatively low gearing, strong wheels and comfortable saddle)
  • Pannier rack
  • Panniers (waterproof bags/plastic bags are useful inside) (whether back& front panniers, handlebar bag will depend on your trip)
  • Spare inner tube(s) (essential)
  • Good quality pump (essential)
  • Tyre levers / puncture repair kit (essential)
  • Multi-tool (and know how to use it!)
  • Front and back set of bike lights
  • Other spares and tools (optional eg. bike oil, brake and gear cables, few spare links, chain tool, spare spokes, spoke key, duck tape, couple of cable ties)
  • Tool bag (optional – can fit neatly under the saddle)

Other equipment to consider

  • Food/snacks (eg. dried fruit, nuts, energy bars) (essential)
  • Water bottle(s) (need at least 1.5 – 2L per day) (essential)
  • Penknife
  • Suncream / sunglasses
  • Bike lock
  • Basic first aid kit including eg. plasters, antiseptic, painkillers, bandages and any other medicines.
  • Mobile phone – even if just for emergencies.
  • Insect repellent
  • Toiletries/travel towel
  • Cash, ID, credit card, other documents (essential)
  • Camera
  • Couple of bungee cords – useful for attaching miscellaneous things!

Optional - camping gear

  • Lightweight touring tent
  • Warm sleeping bag
  • Thermarest
  • Stove/fuel/food/lighter/pans/plates etc (if self-catering)

Responsible cycling

Whilst cycling gives us great freedom and independence it is important to follow a few simple rules as below:

  • Respect the Highway Code which is compulsory for cyclists to follow.
  • Always remain vigilant on roads, particularly at junctions and on bridges
  • At night, use effective lights and wear bright clothing/reflective gear if available
  • If you are wearing a helmet, make sure it is correctly fitted
  • Please don’t drop litter – it is hazardous for wildlife and gives cyclists a bad reputation
  • Please be respectful when cycling through communities
  • On off-road paths, shared with other users:
    • Always signal
    • Give priority to pedestrians and horse-riders
    • Be considerate and friendly to other route users – ideally have a bell that you can use to warn others of your approach. Otherwise a polite call works well too.