The Lake District is home to some of the most beautiful lakes, stunning mountains and fantastic forests the UK has to offer and it’s one of our absolute favourite places to ride! If you fancy riding there too, then have a read of this first because we reckon it’s the Ultimate Lake District motorcycle tour!
Why motorcycle tour in the Lake District?
The Lake District is a stunning region in the UK and has so much going for it. The region is brimming with 16 lakes (interestingly, only one of them – Bassenthwaite Lake – is the only true lake as the rest are technically classed as ‘bodies of water’). Riding past and around these lakes almost transports you out of the UK and puts you among Europe’s alpine glaciers.
And it’s not all just ‘bodies of water’, the Lake District is also home to the highest mountain in England – Scafell Pike… and 10 of England’s highest mountains as well!
There are 214 hills and mountains in the region, beautiful lakes and welcoming lakeside villages. The roads are epic and you’re going to love riding there.
Where is the Lake District?
The Lake District is a national park located in Cumbria in the northwest of England. It’s an easy region to get to with motorways linking to it.
Where to stay?
You’re spoilt for choice with accommodation in the Lake District.
If you prefer to stay in a hotel or guesthouse, take a look at this booking.com map below with its location marker set as Keswick, it’ll give you an idea of prices and availability along this particular route.
And if you prefer to camp, there are plenty of official campsites and many on the waterfront. It’s easy to find local grounds once you’re in the area. But in the height of summer, expect places to be full on the waterfront. If you’re after some camping guides, check these out:
When to go?
As with most places in the UK, motorcycle tours are great in spring and autumn as you’ll steer clear of all the tourists. July and August are by far the busiest months in the Lake District as the tourists flock to Lake Windermere and the other hot spots, but being on two wheels means you can still easily avoid the busy areas and carve up these incredible and empty mountain roads anytime.
The Ultimate Motorcycle Tour in the Lake District
This is the ultimate Lake District motorcycle tour because this epic route takes in all five passes in one go. It can be done as one long day or in two days at a slower pace.
I have started this route from Keswick, but you could join it From Ambleside or Broughton in Furness of even Low Lorton on the west side if you prefer.
Below you’ll find the route on Google Maps. You can save this route to your phone or laptop by clicking the ‘More options’ button under the pin in the top left of the map image.
Below the map, you’ll find my step by step instructions.
The Lake District Motorcycle Tour Route Guide
Leaving Keswick on the A66 and heading East for about 8 miles, take a right to Troutbeck on the A5091.
This little road is one of my favourites as it not only has some cracking bends, but it also has one of the very best views in the lake District looking over Ullswater.
Once you’ve snapped your pics, carry on to the very end of the road until you reach the shores of Ullswater. Turn right here to Patterdale and Glenridding.
This road meanders alongside Ullswater and eventually starts to climb up the Kirkstone pass. On the way up, you’ll pass the “Two Brothers Inn” and Sykeside campsite on the right. I can recommend both!
If you fancy something tasty, at the top of the pass you’ll find the Kirkstone inn on the left – they do great chips!
After the inn, descend a few metres and take the first right turn, “The Struggle” and follow it all the way down to Ambleside.
Once in the quaint and busy town of Ambleside, you need to take the A593 Coniston road. And then one mile after Skelwith bridge, turn right to Wrynose.
Follow this winding road up onto the Wrynose pass route until you get to Cockley Beck and look for a turning on the right to Eskdale via Hardknott pass.
Here is where it gets more interesting as the climb to Hardknott is narrow in places with some tight switchbacks. But as long as you ride it with care, it’s easily doable. The summit of the pass is worth the struggle.
The descent can be a bit nerve-wracking at the top as the road does have an off camber hairpin with some nasty potholes, but with care and even on a heavy bike, it’s still doable and okay (this is where having a lightweight enduro bike wins the day).
Drop down into the valley with some more stunning views and follow the road to Eskdale.
Now if you have time I recommend a detour to Wasdale Head, which is an hour round trip from Eskdale. At Wasdale Head there is an inn and a nice shop that does refreshments.
Okay, back to Eskdale and take the road to Ulpha and on to Broughton in Furness. From here you need the A593 again through Wrynose pass back past Coniston to Ambleside. Once at Ambleside take the Keswick road A591.
Now at Keswick we want the Borrowdale road B5289. Go through Borrowdale and Seatoller and start the climb through the Honister pass. A good stop is the Honister Slate mine which has a café.
Leaving the Mine drop down the pass to beautiful Buttermere. We carry on to Low Lorton where we turn right on the B5292 Whinlatter road. The Whinlatter pass is not as much of a dramatic ride as the other passes, but it’s nice all the same and has a visitor centre with café too.
After the visitor centre, the road gets a bit twisty and more interesting as it winds down to Braithwaite where we re-join the A66 and head back to Keswick.
All in all, this is an absolutely epic one day motorcycle tour or a relaxed photo op weekender.
About the author
Rob Burden is a hugely experienced motorcycle traveller and tourer. He’s 61 years old and knows the two-wheeled world well after working in the motorcycle trade for 30 years. He’s travelled most of Europe, some of Africa and Turkey. And as well as non-stop motorcycle travel, he’s also a seasoned traveller on foot with 3 Himalayan treks and climbs of over 20,000ft under his belt.
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