Guidebook review: Cycling in the Lake District

Published by Lyn on 1 September 2016

Mark Stickland heads off into the hills with a copy of the Cycling in the Lake District guidebook in his jersey pocket.

Cycling in the Lake District

Cycling in the Lake District 
by Richard Barrett (Cicerone Press)

Living close to the Lake District and having ridden there countless times, including completing the Fred Whitton Challenge, I was curious as to how much I would benefit from Richard Barrett’s cycling guide to this region. I was more than pleasantly surprised.

In a detailed introduction, as well as providing a brief guide to local history and geology, Cycling in the Lake District devotes as much attention to setting off on the bike as it does to riding it.

Barrett covers essential topics such as weather conditions and the difficulties arising from them. He also discusses cycling nutrition, packing protocol and the all-important cycling-etiquette for road users who might not be used to narrow lanes and slow climbs.

Cycling in the Lake District

The guide itself opens with a five-stage tour of the Lake District, each stage offering two route options for varying abilities. A further fifteen day rides follow, exploring areas not covered by the full tour. Both sections are characterised by clear maps, gradient information, ride profiles and a difficulty rating system, ensuring that the rider is well prepared for what lies ahead. Barrett also gives an honest indication of the climbing involved and the steepness – a must in an area that offers challenges for even the most seasoned of cyclists.

The Fred Whitten Challenge

Throughout the book, directions are easy to follow and interspersed with some excellent photographs. But most interesting of all are the scattered gems of insight into the history of the area and information about the places passed along the way. Such facts as the world’s first pencil factory being established in Keswick in 1832 give context to the rides – as well as explaining the presence of the Pencil Museum in the town, something that has baffled me for years. With these extra snippets of background, Cycling in the Lake District will provide entertainment whilst off the bike and relaxing those aching legs.

Cycling in the Lake District

In a clear and well-informed fashion, Cycling in the Lake District by Richard Barrett addresses the potential issues facing any cyclist taking on the challenge of the Lake District on two wheels. Designed to slip easily into a back pocket, it is a brilliant companion for anyone considering riding in the region.

Cycling in the Lake District
by Richard Barrett (Cicerone Press)

About our reviewer
Mark Stickland lives in the Yorkshire Dales and is a keen cyclist. Having toured across western Europe and west Africa, he has developed an appreciation for the sharp climbs of northern England, if not for the accompanying weather. He's on Twitter at @sticklandmark

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