Lakeland Gravel

The Lake District is renowned for many things – clearly its mountains and lakes, its literary and artistic connections such as Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and Heaton-Cooper, and its stately homes such as Sizergh Castle, Blackwell (arts and crafts) and Brantwood (home of John Ruskin). I also love it for its gravel….

Gravel biking for me is the sweet spot that allows you to enjoy quiet tarmac’ed lanes but is equally at home on hard-packed and gravel tracks. There’s an area of the Southern Lake District bounded by Grasmere and Ambleside in the north, Kendal and Carnforth to the east, Morecambe Bay to the south and Wainwright’s Southern Fells (Old Man of Coniston, Scafell and Bowfell) to the west that is ideal for this style of cycling and which I head to when out and about from Ambleside.

I’m going to document these rides here so that others can enjoy them, using my OysterWheel format of detailed maps of the area and suggested routes with gpx files and videos to give an idea of the feel for the terrain. A free downloadable leaflet with suggested routes can be found below – alternatively click on the pictures below it to get to more details.

Lakeland Gravel Map
Lakeland Gravel Routes

One of the challenges of this area is that you occasionally come across steep gravelled ascents. They may be short but you may have to push up unless you have the gearing to accommodate them. I’ve adapted my gravel bike to take a 0.8:1 bottom gear and have to use it occasionally. Certainly I’d regard below 1:1 as essential is you want to cycle all the climbs.

Similarly the trails can have bigger stones on them, especially when the top surface has been eroded by the Lakeland weather so wider tyres are essential – I’ve put 700x38c on the bike which again I’d regard as the minimum requirement for comfort.

What this means is that road bikes and the sportier end of the gravel bike market are probably not suitable for these rides, although clearly MTBs are as are most hybrid and e-bikes. If you have any questions – please don’t hesitate to ask.

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