It's not all grim 'oop north
With Pooley Bridge collapsed and the A591 out of action, the Lake District may currently seem like an unappealing riding destination, and that’s before you factor in the famously Baltic weather!
However, we’re here to tell you that the Lakes is till one of the finest destinations for riding in the whole of the UK and here’s why:
In comparison to the Lake District, the rest of England looks like a collection of small, grassy mounds. If you want some proper gradient then the Lakes is the place for you.
The Lake District boasts the 10 biggest mountains in England and some of the biggest in the UK. There’s no legal access to the top of Scafell Pike, England’s highest point, but you can get to the top of Helvellyn at 950 metres and take in the mighty Stick’s Pass descent.
The Lake District also boasts England’s only mountain forest and the Whinlatter trails are bang in the heart of it allowing you to get a high-altitude, foresty fix.
The Lake District delivers what a certain variety of rider likes to call ‘proper mountain biking’. A ride will undoubtedly feature a section of hike-a-biking, deep bogs will sap your speed and the only hint of flow you’ll find will be when the steep, rocky trail turns into a river under your wheels.
That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun though. The Lake District will test your skills to breaking point. There’s no hint of manicured, artificial trails here just you vs the mountain. The satisfaction you can get from cleaning a particularly tricky section is unparalleled though and it’s with good reason we named Nan Bield as one of our favourite UK trails.
Need a skills surgery to tackle the trails? Start here
The Lake District was an inspiration for everyone from Wordsworth to Wainwright and its easy to see why when you’re deep within its imposing scenery.
As you stagger to the top of another peak you’ll be greeted by a breathtaking myriad of valleys stretching before you, formed by the erosive power of glaciers thousands of years ago… That or it’ll be so cloudy you can barely see your hand in front of your face.
It’s blissfully quiet
Those who have only journeyed as far as Bowness-on-Windermere or Grizedale may be surprised to hear us call the Lake District quiet but when you get out in the wilderness you can find yourself in a paradise of remote trails.
Having your trails to yourself means you are never held up and can fully enjoy the fantastic scenery in peace. Obviously this is a double-edged sword though and you should always make sure you can be self-sufficient in case of an emergency.
The mid-ride snack
“We sat on the snow and looked at the country far below us … we nibbled Kendal Mint Cake” these are the word of Edmund Hillary written in his journal on his way to becoming the first man to summit Everest. Kendal Mint Cake is little more than a block of minty sugar but it is unparalleled as a trail snack on a blustery Cumbrian afternoon.
It’s not just during the ride though. Could there be anything better than collapsing at a pub with Cumberland sausage and a Cartmel sticky toffee pudding at the end of a hard day in the saddle?
Speaking of pubs, the Lakes has a great selection. After all, what great ride doesn’t finish in a local drinking establishment?
The Lakes has yet to be tainted by the gastro-pub scourge and you can still find many pubs serving the famous Black Sheep ale with pride. The pubs are (usually) used to an outdoorsy crowd too so will normally accommodate you along with your muddy kit and even a dog. Result.
Now, hear us out on this one. The Lakes may be notoriously damp but your spirits certainly won’t be as the climate adds a certain charm to every ride. The wet weather makes the trails that little bit harder and the post-ride stories that little bit grander. And, at the end of the day, at least it’s not Scotland.