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A Lap of Helvellyn

A scary looking prospect

We're quite often asked to plan a route for people coming up to visit the Cold Dark North for some other purpose but wanting to squeeze in some miles on our glorious roads. Only happy to help.

A slightly unusual one this summer was a request for a route from the Great Langdale Campsite - a family were camping there and mum wanting to get out and explore during one of the days. What better than a lap of the country's third highest peak, Helvellyn?

This route is just over 80km but not far shy of 2,000m climbing. So it's steep even by Lake District standards. It features stunning lake side roads, glorious open descents, 100 Climbs and, if you want to make it harder, a game of chicken with Wrynose Pass when you get back to the sign pictured above.

The ride starts and finishes in the visually arresting Langdales - heading out along the valley floor and around the lovely hanging lakeside valley road up the West Bank of Thirlmere. Much quieter than the A591 opposite, and with a full view of the monster mountain range you're riding around.

After the relatively quiet section getting from Threkeld across to Troutbeck, the ride turns South and over the top of Matterdale, taking in one of the most iconic views in the Lakes - staring down Ullswater to Glenridding on the silky fast descent.

After a short flat run into Glenridding you could do worse than mark the half way point with a cup of coffee in the Post Office shop - surprisingly good and amusingly idiosyncratic as this badge on the counter makes abundantly clear:

Glenridding is a town that needs a sense of humour after their recent run of awful floods - don't forget to donate to the relief fund at the Post office. When you've downed your coffee you must steel yourself for the day's toughest test.

The climb of the mighty Kirkstone Pass.

Many will tell you that this climb is hardest from Ambleside and the infamous Struggle. But many locals are firmly of the view that this side is significantly harder.

Unlike the respite afforded 2/3rds of the way up the Struggle, from Patterdale, the climb gets steeper, and steeper and steeper until you get to the pub at the top. Eventually. It's a great climb and every bit the struggle that its opposing side brags it is.

Having reached the top you can grab a photo of "The Struggle" sign before taking it on as a descent - it's fast and sharply steep at the base, just as you return to civilisation and traffic. Take it easy. In Ambleside, you can call in for some bike-porn at the excellent Push Cartel and maybe bag another coffee with the knowledgeable and friendly staff there.

The last leg home takes you back through Little Langdale and to the junction pictured at the top of this post where you could choose to go left and mount Wrynose Pass from the hard(er) side, or you can head straight home up the "slightly easier 25% gradient" and the gorgeous Blea Tarn. You'll eventually plummet down a treacherous set of switchbacks to the Campsite where you started.

We know which option we'd choose...

The route we rode can be downloaded here from Strava: and can be studied in forensic detail here on VeloViewer:

As always, if you'd like some help organising a holiday here, or a longer route for your group or even just a day's support car for a large group ride - let us know. We're be happy to help.

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