A bikepacking adventure in the Lake District

Discover what happened when our highly versatile spring/summer kit was put to the test on a bikepacking journey in the Lake District National Park…

This season, our Made for More philosophy is pushing the limits of Montane kits versatility. Whilst we may be better known for engineering clothing especially for walkers, runners and climbers – our kit can (and has) been used for a wide range of adventures – including the increasingly popular activity of bikepacking. Just take a look at Jenny Tough who regularly heads out on cycling adventures in her Montane kit. 

Need more convincing? Look no further! Katie Edwards, Kate O'Callaghan and Zach Robson are 3 bike-mad enthusiasts who regularly love to hit the trail for two-wheeled escapism. We asked them to put our versatile kit claims to the test and sent them into the beautiful Lake District mountains for a 2-day off-the-beaten track adventure by bike.

Keep reading to discover their mountain biking route and to find out which clothing they would recommend for a bikepacking mission in the UK…

Adventure overview

The Lake District is an awesome place to explore by mountain bike, the variety of trails and the stunning scenery makes for an endless playground.  The draw of adventure is never far away here and there is a massive 2300 square kilometers to explore. Starting out from Staveley village, fuelled on sausage rolls from More bakery, the three of us headed up the road to the Kentmere valley for a mini bikepacking adventure.

Bike set up

With our bikes fully loaded we followed the single track across farmland and down the first descent to Kentmere Hall, a good warm up to get used to the extra weight on our bikes.

Alongside all of our expertly designed Montane gear, trusted bikes and extra gadgets (including Laser Sports helmets). We all had different set ups to help us carry our adventure essentials:

  •       Kate had all her luggage on the bike with a handlebar bag and saddle bag.
  •       Katie chose to use a handlebar bag, a couple of top tube bags, as well as the Montane Gecko Waist Pack - which was super comfy.
  •       Zac decided to go super lightweight, with a small handlebar bag and most of his weight in his Trailblazer LT backpack

It was the end of September and the first time it had started to feel like Autumn. We set off in base layers, mid layers and Spine waterproof jackets, as the wind had a cold chill, though we quickly warmed up and started to shed some layers.

Day 1: Big climbs and bigger rewards

From Kentmere, we headed up the farm track and took a fun little descent into Sadgill. Next, we had an almighty climb up the valley to Gatescarth Pass, to start this is a steady climb but quickly turns into a tough series of cobbled zig-zags that had us pushing in places.From the top of the pass, we were rewarded with amazing views and a rainbow over Haweswater as some hailstorms passed through. The lightweight women’s and men’s Spine waterproof jackets kept us bone dry in the passing showers.

After enjoying some snacks and recovering from the climb we took on the long, rocky descent to the water, it was loose in places, but lots of fun. When Haweswater is low enough, you can see the old walls of Mardale Village, we had a pedal along the road to check it out before heading back on ourselves to tackle the first part of the of the climb up to Nan Beild Pass. The first third up to Small Water tarn is the easy bit, this is where we set up camp for the night. 

A windy wild camp

To describe our overnight stop as windy would be an understatement. It made setting up our tents challenging, but also provided a good laugh as we wrestled to get it pegged down.  Changing into our dart leggings and insulated down jackets to keep us warm, we took in the surroundings. The next thing to sort was refuelling for the eve, which consisted of dehydrated camp meals (check out Firepot who help you 'eat well in the wild') that we had brought along to save space. We then tried to get our heads down, the relentless wind made this as difficult as trying to pitch the tent (we’ll be sure to pack earplugs next time!).

Waking up after a few hours’ sleep amongst the loud flapping layers of the tent, the tiredness was soon forgotten as we unzipped the tent and adjusted our eyes to the stunning surroundings of the Lake District. There wasn’t another soul in sight. Despite the National Park being one of the most visited in the UK – in this moment we had this special place totally to ourselves. The peace and quiet reminded us just how lucky we were to experience this.  If you ask us, this is the best way to discover and explore the Lake District (in our humble opinion).

We fuelled ourselves on porridge and brews, and packed away our tents. We took care to leave no trace behind - a very important part of the experience. Bikes repacked, a little lighter after eating most of our food, we headed up to Nan Beild Pass.

Day 2: Onwards and upwards

Contouring around a tarn, we then tackled a killer climb - the hardest part of the ride so far. This section would normally be a hike-a-bike, but with the extra load we had the struggle of pushing and lifting through steep rocky sections. A challenge but totally worth it for the rewards.  Eventually reaching a stone shelter at the saddle of the ridge, the clouds broke, revealing incredible views back down to Haweswater and beyond. This was the perfect excuse to pause, hide from the strong winds and regain some energy for the descent to come.

The descent from the top of Nan Beild pass is a Lakes classic. It starts with some steep, technical, and very loose switchbacks, followed by fast rocky singletrack that traverses the side of the fell above Kentmere reservoir. The gradual descent has a bit of everything, muddy gambles, a couple of techy chutes and small stream crossings, all set amid an awesome Lakeland valley landscape. 

Eventually the Nan Beild descent drops you into the remote Kentmere Village. From there we pedalled up and over green quarter, a steady climb with a flowy singletrack descent finishing on a rocky bridleway back down to the road.  An easy roll down the road took us back to Staveley (our start and finish point) to enjoy a celebrator lunch time pint at Hawkshead Brewery - our well-earned reward.

How to take on a bikepacking trip

Feeling inspired by this mountain biking adventure in the Lake District? Eager to get out and explore by bike, but not sure where to get started? Don’t miss our bikepacking 101 guide for beginners, brought to you by experienced cyclist and passionate bikepacker Jenny Tough.