- Admiring the rugged natural beauty of two of England’s most beautiful National Parks
- Riding up Buttertubs Pass – possibly the only Tour de France “classic climb” in the UK
- Feasting on Cumberland sausages and sticky toffee pudding
- Riding all 6 of the major Lake District passes
- Fuelling up on Yorkshire puddings as God intended them
- Enjoying a well deserved pint of Sneck Lifter at the end of a hard day in the saddle
- Ascent: Non Riding Day
“I do not know in all my own country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine”, so wrote the Victorian poet and artist John Ruskin of Kirkby Lonsdale’s idyllic setting. Nestling between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales National Parks, the historic little Cumbrian market town which boasts one of the cleanest high streets in the UK and straddles the banks of the River Lune, is easily accessible from the M6 motorway. The town is well worth exploring by those able to arrive with time to do so.
The Skedaddle team will be on hand at the first accommodation from late afternoon/early evening and will assist with any bike building / fitting to rental bikes etc before we all head out for dinner and a chat about what we have in store for the next few days.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1300 Metres Approx.
Today, the Yorkshire Dales (although not yet the county of Yorkshire) opens welcoming arms and offers a relatively gentle introduction to our exploration of Northern England’s most beautiful National Parks with a handful of quite lengthy but very manageable climbs.
The opening chapter of this tale of two Kirkbys comes in the form of almost 20 miles of a mainly-ascending terrain which, in contrast to many of the climbs over the next few days, rises steadily and gently. We‘re riding literally up hill and down dale and our first climb takes us up the Barbondale Valley, before a short, steep descent lowers us into Dentdale. As we follow the course of the River Dee we climb up under the Dent Head railway viaduct, emerging onto the moors for our first real taste of the wild Dales countryside. A sweeping descent then leads us to Hawes where finally we have arrived in Yorkshire. We are now officially riding in God’s Own Country!
Crossing the Ure for the second time today we begin the main climb of the day, Buttertubs Pass. The Côte de Buttertubs, as it was briefly rechristened in July 2014 when the Tour de France paid us a visit, entered cycling lore when Jens Voigt led the peloton over the summit to claim the Polka Dot Jersey during Stage One of the race.
After descending to the village of Thwaite, all that remains are a few more miles of quiet rural lanes, taking in the stunning Lamps Moss descent, before we arrive in the market town of Kirkby Stephen, which will be our home for the next two evenings.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 900 Metres Approx
There’s no need to pack our bags this morning since we’ll be returning to our accommodation upon completion of our ride. Today’s loop ride is a real treat and explores not only more of the Dales National Park but also the most southern reaches of the North Pennines, an officially recognised Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Our first challenge presents itself early in the day with a sharp three-and-a-half-mile climb through the villages and Rookby and Barras. Beyond Barras things become a little easier as the gradient eases and then drops a little before one last effort delivers us to the summit of Tan Hill, home to the highest pub in Britain.
A welcome and well-deserved seven-mile descent follows allowing just enough time for our legs to recover before once again climbing steeply into the beautiful Stang Forest. Once through the forest we roll down into and through the historic town of Barnard Castle before embarking on the long and gentle final ascent of the day into the North Pennines. All that remains to complete our loop is a swift descent through the villages of Brough and Brough Sowerby and couple of rolling miles before reaching the hotel.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 900 Metres Approx.
Our day begins with ten miles of gentle climbing as we travel almost due south along the Mallerstang valley, back towards the heart of the Dales. Upon reaching the hamlet of Aisgill it’ll seem like we‘re being rewarded for all of our efforts as the road turns downwards and doesn’t really stop dropping for more than 15 miles as we head to the small town of Sedbergh, situated at the foot of the Howgill Fells.
Thanks to the length and rapidity of the descent it isn’t long before we find ourselves entering the Lake District National Park, just south of Kendal as our encounter with the Yorkshire Dales draws to a conclusion.
A few minor, yet sometimes spiky lumps and bumps, keep our legs warm and hearts pumping all the way to Windermere where we will enjoy our first evening of typical Lakeland hospitality.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,100 Metres Approx.
The fun begins as soon as we leave town and, notwithstanding the first gently-descending half mile of riding, so too do the challenges! It isn’t long before the Kirkstone Pass looms into view, dishing up a hearty appetiser and a good indication of what the Lake District has in store for us over the coming days.
We rise gently at first and it’s not until we reach the village of Troutbeck before the road that winds through this ancient slate-quarrying region starts to point heavenward. Like most of the climbs we’ll encounter during the next couple of days, Kirkstone might be steep but it is thankfully short and, before we’ve even completed seven miles in the saddle, we’ll be regrouping and catching our breath at the summit beside the Kirkstone Pass Inn, an old coaching house, another public house claiming to be one of the highest in the country!
As we pick our way carefully down the other side towards the hamlet of Hartsop and the tiny but beautiful Brothers Water, we’ll realise that despite the struggle on the way up, we actually climbed the “easy” side!
We press on through Patterdale and Glenridding and ride for a few miles along Ullswater’s picturesque western shoreline before a left-hand turn coaxes us onto Matterdale End, the day’s second challenge. Once over the summit, the rest of the day is predominantly downhill except for a few minor lumps and bumps along the way. As we approach Keswick we’ll pass Castlerigg Stone Circle, a historic local landmark set against a dramatic backdrop of the Helvellyn mountain.
We ride straight through Keswick before ending the day with a scenic loop around Derwentwater, ultimately returning to Keswick where we will spend the evening.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,500 Metres Approx.
A wonderful day of classic Lakeland riding lies ahead of us today, packed with unforgettable views, jaw-dropping scenery and a dragon’s tooth profile that will likely lodge itself permanently in our memories, and possibly also in our legs!
The climbs come in rapid succession and we’ll have the first and most significant three under our belts within little more than 20 miles. First up is Honister Pass, the highest, steepest and toughest climb of the day, which we reach after warming our legs along the shores of Derwentwater and the Borrowdale valley. Those first eight miles are the only flat miles of the day so we need to make the most of them because Honister offers no gentle introduction, kicking in with a double-digit gradient within the first few hundred yards.
After summiting next to Honister Slate Mine, the last working slate mine in England, we descend, steeply again, into the remote and picturesque Buttermere Valley, the only valley in Cumbria to possess three lakes, before rising sharply once more as we tackle Newlands Pass. A very welcome sweeping descent follows and drops us eight miles into the Newlands Valley to the pretty village of Braithwaite. The village lies at the foot of Whinlatter Pass, the last of this morning’s unholy trinity, waiting patiently to challenge us once more as we regroup and enjoy a coffee.
Whinlatter marks a change in direction and whilst the climbing is by no means over, the rest of the day, as we make our way west to skirt around the extreme western boundary of the National Park, is significantly easier on the legs. We’ll wind our way along less-travelled, quieter lanes, and after the final climb of Cold Fell, with its views over the Irish Sea, we drop down to the village of Gosforth, our destination. Here we’ll rest up, enjoy a well-deserved evening meal and ready ourselves for another big day out tomorrow.
- Meals: Breakfast, lunch
- Ascent: 1,550 Metres Approx.
Sadly we’ve reached our final stage and our last day on the bikes. Before bidding farewell however, we have to ride deep into the heart of the Lake District one last time in order to keep our appointment with two of the country’s most notorious climbs.
This climactic day begins gently enough, with a scenic ten-mile warm up along the Eskdale valley as Scafell Pike, England’s highest peak, towers over us as we ride. Things are about to change however as Hardknott, with a gradient reaching a punishing 33% in places and staking a claim as England’s steepest road, awaits. Almost before we know that Hardknott is over, Wrynose hits us, an insignificant little ramp by comparison, barely scraping in with a mere 25% gradient!
As challenging as these two final climbs may be, they are typical of our tour and are, as we have become accustomed over the last few days, manageable by virtue of their brevity. With Hardknott and Wrynose finally conquered we can relax in the knowledge that the hardest riding is now behind us.
We’ll spend the rest of the day negotiating the minor roads which lead us through Ambleside, once more to the shores of Windermere and beyond as we bypass Kendal and finally arrive back in Kirkby Lonsdale where it all started.
It’s time to pack our bikes, freshen up, rest the legs and enjoy a final evening meal together.
This tour explores two of England’s finest national parks and takes in a variety of terrains, ranging from the Lake District’s notoriously steep climbs, to the more gently-rolling hills of the Yorkshire Dales.
Road surfaces are generally good, however, as is the case in all rural regions, it is not uncommon to encounter occasional gravelly sections and potholes in some areas. Similarly, cattle grids, wandering sheep and other livestock are frequent. Good bike handling skills and a reasonable level of fitness are required.
For the most part, small, quiet country lanes have been chosen however we do occasionally venture onto larger busier roads. Traffic levels are generally low but can increase during holiday periods.
Road Cycling Grade
Distances between 50-75 miles / 80-120km per day
For more regular riders who like to push themselves a little from time to time
Not extreme but certainly challenging on occasions with some good climbing opportunities
Our grading guidelines have been carefully created based on our many years of cycling experience, as well as customer feedback from our trips. Of course, if you're still struggling to figure out where you fit on the scale, do feel free to give us a quick call and we'll be more than happy to help!
For more information about our grading system click here.
Is this suitable for you?
You’re an enthusiast. Road cycling is probably your main hobby and you ride regularly at weekends, staying on the bike for much of the day. You’re in pretty good shape, and you might also participate in cylo-sportive events. You also love a challenge and are looking for a tour with some good climbing, preferably with an opportunity to tick off some famous Tour de France cols, or the like. You’re a competent descender, and you’re not afraid of speed, but you ride safely and within your limits at all times. You understand road etiquette and you’re comfortable riding in a bunch. You might even take a stint at the front of the pack if the need arises.
Dates & Prices
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A) Accommodation (shared twin / double en-suite rooms)
B) Meals as per the itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
C) Full tour service, including Skedaddle guides
D) Unless stated, at least one leader qualified in first aid
E) Support vehicle and luggage transfers
F) Train station transfer on scheduled arrival day from Oxenholme Station
G) Train station transfer on scheduled departure day to Oxenholme Station
What's not Included
A) Bike hire (available if required)
B) Flights and charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable)
C) Meals not stated in the itinerary
D) Single room (available if required)
E) Travel insurance
F) Personal clothing and equipment
G) Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities etc)
H) Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en-route
I) Train station transfers on days other than the scheduled arrival / departure days
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