Cycling in North West England

Come and discover some unforgettable places to ride your bike.  We are a bit biased – as we live here – but we think that the cycling in North West England is among the best in the UK, if not the world.

Lancaster

The majority of our sportive events are based at the fantastic 3-1-5 Health Club, in Lancaster, which is very accessible by both road – M6 Junction 34 – and rail – main line to Lancaster Station. We have 2 x great places to stay right on the start line – Holiday Inn and Premier Inn .  Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire and straddles the River Lune. The House of Lancaster was once a branch of the English royal family, now the Duchy of Lancaster holds large estates on behalf of Elizabeth II, who is also the Duke of Lancaster.

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lancaster castle
Lancaster Castle

It is a lively university city, dominated by Lancaster Castle, Lancaster Priory Church and the Ashton Memorial. It is home to Lancaster University and a campus of the University of Cumbria. with many welcoming places to spend an evening, most have live music at weekends.

Cycling Areas

On our doorstep we are blessed to have several stunning National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, all are just a short ride from our event HQ’s – and offer some of the best cycling in North West England.

shap summit
Shap Summit – Lake District

The Lake District National Park

Also known as the Lakes or Lakeland, is a mountainous region in the county of Cumbria.  A popular holiday destination, it attracts over 18 million visitors from all over the world each year.  The region is famous for its lakes, forests and mountains (or fells), which offer some great cycling routes, and its associations with William Wordsworth and other Lake Poets as well as with Beatrix Potter and John Ruskin.

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lake district
Photo by Steve Taylor

The Lake District National Park was established in 1951 and covers an area of 2,362 square kilometres, and some classic hill climbs like The Struggle, Kirkstone, Honister, Wrynose passes. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, and is home to mile after mile of secluded lanes.  Some of which we use for our events.  

The Yorkshire Dales National Park

A stunning upland area of the Pennines in the historic county of Yorkshire, often simply called The Dales, most of the area is in the Yorkshire Dales National Park which was created in 1954.

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yorkshire dales
Photo by Gary Butterfield

The Dales comprise of many river valleys and the hills rising from the Vale of York westwards to the hilltops of the Pennine watershed, the riding here is fast becoming known worldwide with Le Tour de France, UCI World Championships and The Tour of Britain all having stages in the area in recent years.   Cyclists now enjoy the benefits of some incredibly well re surfaced roads due to these events, and will generally see many more sheep than cars when out riding.

Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty 

Also known as the Bowland Fells, is an area of barren gritstone fells, deep valleys and peat moorland, mostly in north-east Lancashire, but with a small part in North Yorkshire (before 1974, some of the area was in the West Riding of Yorkshire). It is a western spur of the Pennines and was once described as the “Switzerland of England”.

forest of bowland
Jubilee Tower – Forest of Bowland

The Forest of Bowland has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) since 1964.  Bowland survives as the north-western remainder of the ancient wilderness that once stretched over a huge part of England, encompassing the Forest of Bowland, Sherwood Forest , the New Forest  and Savernake Forest (Wiltshire) . The remote country lanes are fantastic for cycling, and the well known ascents of Cow Ark, Waddington Fell and The Trough of Bowland will test many riders.

Silverdale and Arnside Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty 

A designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1972, on the border between Lancashire and Cumbria, and bound by the Morecambe Bay coast on one side and limestone fells on the other.  The area is one of the smallest AONBs, covering just 29 square miles (75 km2) between the Kent Estuary, the River Keer and the A6 road.

arnside sea front
Arnside Sea Front

The Leighton Moss nature reserve (recently seen on BBC’s Springwatch), owned by the RSPB, is the largest area of reedbeds in North West England, and is an Important Bird breeding ground. The seashores and rolling limestone hills make for some memorable riding in and around Arnside and Silverdale which are the main villages in the area.

The Howgill Fells

Are the remote fells often seen from the M6 motorway, between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales, lying roughly in the middle of a triangle made by the towns of Sedbergh, Kirkby Stephen and Tebay. The name Howgill derives from the Old Norse word haugr meaning a hill or barrow, plus gil meaning a narrow valley.

Howgill fells
The Howgill Fells

The Howgill Fells are bounded by the River Lune (and the M6 motorway to the west), to the north by upper reaches of the River Lune, and to the east by the River Rawthey.  The old roman road that we follow on our events rarely sees any traffic at all, and the hills above are home to several herds of semi wild fell ponies, who will happily stand and watch you ride past.