We spent a wonderful, sunny Saturday cycling around the shores of Lake Windermere. It was about 10 miles round trip on traffic-free bridleway paths and all along, we were treated to the most stunning views across the lake.
We actually wanted to start our cycle ride from a little place called Harrow Slack. This would have meant quite a long drive around the lake, or you can take the car ferry. We decided to do this - the ferry is quite small and only holds about 10 cars, but it runs back and forwards across the lake all day. We just missed one, but you only have to wait about 20 minutes. The cost for our car was £4.30.
On the other side of the lake, we turned right and headed for Harrow Slack. This is all National Trust land and the car-park also belongs to the National Trust. You can park for free if you are a member, otherwise it is pay and display.
We turned left out of Harrow Slack car park along a tarmac road. Cars do use this road, so you need to be careful with children, but there are not many and they travel slowly.
Here, you get your first glimpse of the lake. We cycled past lots of open fields and saw quite a few people having picnics at the lake side.
Basically we just carried on along this road around the lake. It changes to a track and you go over a cattle grid, then you enter some woodland. This is nice on a hot day - the trees provide plenty of shade from the sun, you glimpse the lake and the boats through the trees. The track is quite stony and bumpy on this section - it can be a little uncomfortable! Also it undulates quite a bit - there are some sections which are quite steep (but also short), then some fast descents. We did walk with our bikes on some of the steeper hills.
Eventually the track evens out again, becomes a lot smoother and much flatter. We rode through a car park and then followed the signs for Wray Castle. This is a great place to spend a couple of hours and break up the afternoon cycling. You can either follow the signs for the castle, which takes you up to a quiet road, then you cycle along the main driveway to the castle. A better option with children is to follow the signs for the perimeter of the castle. This is all car-free and actually takes you out near the bike racks.
We then retraced our steps back along the lake shore from the castle to our car. It is nice on the way back to make regular stops, to sit at the lakeside and enjoy the view or have a game of skimming stones, which our 9 year old enjoyed.