You are not short of amazing roads in the Lake District, but if you are pushed for time, this one-day route gives you the best of the area while keeping away from the most famous – and busiest – parts.
With so many great roads in a relatively small area, narrowing down the ones to include in your ride can be tricky. To be fair, it’s a personal choice to a large degree, but a clever way to plan the route is to talk to someone who knows the area well and can advise on which kind of roads you might enjoy the most. For us, that someone was Martin from Riding Edge Motorcycle Adventures
Martin has bagfuls of local knowledge, so coming up with a route with all the majestic scenery of the Lakes, but avoiding the busy bits was easy for him.
The route that Martin planned for us is a circular 100-mile ride covering A and B roads in the heart of the Lake District. What we were told to expect was nothing too technical, but some sections would be single tracks with passing places as you’re climbing up to higher ground. Although the route is not particularly long, we were told to allow a full day so there’s plenty of time for stops for photos, coffees and lunch.
Being circular, you could start the ride anywhere along the route, but for us, it started in Coniston. And that worked out well: The first road we hit out of Coniston towards Torver was the perfect start to the ride. It was just what you need to get to the swing of things first thing in the morning – nice and easy country riding. From Torver we carried on to Broughton-in-Furness and Duddon Bridge, with views over Morecambe Bay.
From Duddon Bridge we took a single lane track North towards Ulpha, and this is where the hills started to change from gentle and rolling to rocky and rugged, the forest grew thinner, the fields were fewer, and it felt like we were slowly heading into the wild.
Past Ulpha, still heading North over Birker Fell towards Eskdale and Santon Bridge, the scenery turned even more barren and wild as we rode over the tops of the fells. This was a road I had not ridden before, mostly because on previous visits I had headed from Eskdale to Cockley Bridge for the Hardknott and Wrynose Passes. It was clear I had missed out on a great road doing that, and I was glad that Martin had included this on our route, no doubt knowing that many will miss it for the same reason.
Before stopping for a coffee at Santon Bridge, we took a little detour to the shores of Wast Water. It’s only a little off the route, and well worth taking a few minutes to grab photos of your bike by the lake.
We continued our ride through Gosforth, with a short hop on the A595 to Calder Bridge, then back on the single-track road to Ennerdale Bridge, past the Blakeney Raise stone circle. This is another stretch of the route where you are riding on top of the fells, with nothing but the odd sheep reminding you that civilisation is not really that far away.
We then rode through Kirkland and Mockerkin to Loweswater, then continued to Crummock Water, where the road follows the waterline with tight blind bends hiding anything from tourists in campervans to farmers in big old tractors. The views are great, but best keep your eyes peeled on the road. Luckily there are places to stop to admire your surroundings.
In Buttermere village, before getting to Buttermere, the lake, we swung a left. This was another road I had not ridden before. I have been through Buttermere many times, but always carried straight towards the Honister Pass.
That left turn took us to the Newlands Pass, a narrow, but wonderfully scenic pass that takes you roughly speaking in Keswick direction.
There’s a spot for stopping at the top that lends itself to some good pictures of your bike, and the impressive Moss Force waterfall.
Again, I was pleased that Martin had picked this road, instead of the busier Honister Pass. It was the first time I rode it, but it won’t be the last.
From Newlands Pass it’s only a short blast on the A66 to Keswick, and time for another coffee and cake.
The final stretch back towards Coniston, the A591 down past Thirlmere, seemed like the fastest road ever, after all the slow, narrow and nadgery little tracks that we had been on most of the day.
We left the A road at Grasmere, picking up the smaller track running on the west side of the lake over Red Bank, and twisting and turning our way to Skelwith Bridge. From there it was the A593 straight to Coniston. This is not just any old A road, it’s one of the most fun and windy ones, but beware of the multitude of manhole covers in the corners, most of them right on the ideal motorcycle line through the corner.
With the last stretch dispatched, we arrived back to Coniston. The route had been well put together: a nice mix of different types of roads; nothing too technical, but interesting enough to keep you on your toes; and the scenery had been exquisite all the way.
It had been a full day, but what I really wanted to do was turn around and ride it in the opposite direction. But that will have to wait until another day…
Bag your own route in the Lake District
If you want to discover some new routes in the Lakes, or if you haven’t been there yet and don’t want to miss the big hitters, give Martin at Riding Edge Motorcycle Adventures a shout.