Top Road Cycling Routes
Top Road Cycling
Routes in Allerdale
Road Cycling in the Lake District
The beauty of Allerdale is that we have diverse landscapes to inspire your cycling imagination. Here are a selection of routes to aim for – some are a not for beginners and most have hills!
All have links to route guides on Strava (other activity apps also exist).
And there is more to be found on our guide to cycling the Solway Coast and Whinlatter Forest Park mountain bike routes.
Silloth, Bowness on Solway and Hadrian's Wall country
Silloth is a great base to take in the wonderful Solway Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. The surrounding countryside is flat and undulating, so gives relief from the Lakeland hills and you can get the miles in. Start at Silloth and head out along the B5302 to Abbeytown.
Take the B5307 through Newton Arlosh and then go round the Anthorn Peninsula. As you do you’ll pass through time itself – as the ‘pips’ are sent from the radio beacon there. At Bowness on Solway on the northern coast, head inland back towards Angerton and the B5307 and then back to Silloth on the B5302. For a longer ride of 59 miles, follow the route of the local Silloth Sportive which takes in Wigton and takes in some of the wonderful villages of the Solway plain.
Maryport to Allonby, five miles each way
A great short family route which can be pretty much traffic free. It starts by the Wave Centre in Maryport (ample parking nearby) and takes you along the fabulous promenade and out along to coast to Allonby. Once past the golf club, join the cycle path all the way to avoid the traffic (the Strava route below takes you on the road).
The pleasant village of Allonby has all you need to stock up for the journey back – ice-cream, fish and chips – as well as a playpark for kids. Return the same way. Do check the wind direction, as you may want to start in Allonby is blowing hard from the south.
Mountain climbs round Keswick and Cockermouth (40 miles or so)
Some of Britain’s greatest cycling climbs are around Keswick and Cockermouth – the Honister, Newlands and Whinlatter passes. Not for the beginner, these are for the would-be Kings (or Queens) of the Mountains. They regularly feature in the Tour of Britain (in 2018, Whinlatter will be tackled three times from different directions) as well as local sportives such as the Fred Whitton Challenge and the Townend Challenge.
You can start in Keswick or Cockermouth and do a loop round, taking in as many passes as you can cope with. The link below is for the Townend Challenge, which happens every Spring and takes in all three passes (Whinlatter twice). Remember to prepare for all types of weather.
Keswick to Cockermouth, 34 miles
If the three big peaks are too much, but you want a challenge (and tea and cakes along the way) then this is the one for you. It starts near Central Car Park but can be anywhere in Keswick. Go out along the A66 (there is a cyclepath) to Braithwaite before turning left to go up the Newlands Valley. The valley is a steady rise up, with some sharp bits. And save something for the final climb which is steep. Then it is a quick descent down into Buttermere (take care going down as it is steep), where you can reward your efforts with tea, cake and icecream.
Carry on along the beautiful shores of Crummock and hopefully the wind will be behind you are you travel up the Lorton Valley to the pleasant town of Cockermouth. Rest your legs for a while, as you take in the shops before heading west to Bassenthwaite Lake and back to Keswick along the A591.
Keswick and the Northern Fells, 42 miles
A circular route starting and finishing in Keswick, keeping close acquaintance with the rounded hills in the Skiddaw group, also taking in the lovely village of Hesket Newmarket. The route is used in the Keswick Mountain Festival’s popular Back o Skiddaw Sportive.
Mainly on quiet country lanes, you soon leave the noise of the A66 to head to Hesket Newmarket and Caldbeck via Mungrisedale. From them head west onto the Caldbeck Common, then sharply down into Uldale for the climb and then descent to the A591, which takes you back to Keswick. It’s all relatively undulating, but there are some hills to test your calf muscles.
There are plenty of pubs and cafes along the way – including the famous Kings Arms in Hesket Newmarket which was Britain’s first co-operative pub.
Do check the wind. If it is blowing hard from the west you may want to consider doing it the opposite way.
Borrowdale and Buttermere from Keswick (27 miles)
A circular route that takes in the beautiful valleys of Borrowdale and Buttermere and the dramatic passes of Honister and Whinlatter.
The route starts in the centre of Keswick. Take the B5289 out of the town all the way along the Borrowdale Valley enjoying great views over Derwent Water with the Jaws of Borrowdale ahead. Soon you’ll start climbing up Honister – it is very tough at first but levels off. The descent is worth the effort, but do take a photo at the top. The village of Buttermere awaits at the bottom with all you’ll need for refreshment. And then head on along Crummock Water, and through Lorton village to take on Whinlatter Pass.
See if you can beat the Tour of Britain pros as you head up from the west, and then its a steep sweeping descent into Keswick and home.
The villages around Aspatria (22 miles)
A circular route starting in the centre of Aspatria and taking in some of the area’s most tranquil villages, including Isel, Ireby, and Torpenhow – and one you’ll not forget Bewaldeth and Snittlegarth.
The route goes out south from Aspatria along the B5301. The hills will warm you up. Cross the A595 carefully before descending into Isel and then out along the straight road towards Bewaldeth. Circle round Binsey – remember to look back at the views over Bassenthwaite Lake – for the speedy run into Ireby, which is a great place to stop and get refreshed (and has a music festival every May).
The route then passes along the quiet lanes to Torpenhow (said ‘Trepenah’) and back to Aspatria via Bothel.
Workington-Cockermouth-Workington round trip (18 miles)
A great route from Allerdale’s main town and shopping centre to Cockermouth via some lovely villages. Start at Workington’s new leisure centre and head up the old railway path through Seaton to Camerton. Then follow the route to Great Broughton and onto Cockermouth. It’s quiet and flat, but there are some sharp hills and watch out for the hill out of Broughton and the sharp corners on the way.
On the way back, head our of Cockermouth on Low Road, taking care at the roundabout to cross the road and join the C2C path which uses the old road. Head through Brigham and Bridgefoot and then take care on the roundabout (paths are provided) to go through Clifton and Stainburn before heading through Hall Park in Workington (careful crossing the road), and back to the leisure centre.
National Cycle Routes
We have not one, not two, but three National Cycle Routes in Allerdale. And they are all absolute beauties to ride. The most popular is the C2C (NCR 71). You can start in Workington or Maryport and join the rolling country to Cockermouth and Keswick (taking you through the mountain bike playground of the Whinlatter Forest Park which featured in the 2018 Tour of Britain). The route then heads to Penrith via Greystoke and the North-East.
The Hadrian’s Cycle Way (NCR 72) takes you up the coast from Workington and Maryport and on to Silloth via Allonby. Much of it is on tarmac cycle-paths. The route then extends round the Anthorn Peninsula to Carlisle and into Northumbria. Seek out the Roman Heritage on the way.
The lesser known Reivers Route (NCR 10) is a real delight. It goes through Cockermouth, and out to the little-explored villages on its way to the Scottish borders. You’ll see places many tourists rarely see and experience roads just fit for a bike ride. All the routes can be done from east to west, but it is usually best going west to east due to prevailing winds.
Please note that these routes contain both on and off-road sections.