Lakes Weekend – Epic Camp or Epic Fail ?

Location, location, location.

Our base for the inaugural Buccaneer Tri 4 day free camp is the Ambleside Backpackers Hostel. As a group we have stayed here a few times and found the environment more than adequate for using as a base for a long weekend of cycling.

By now you will have your accommodation sorted so this is just a few pointers. And if you haven’t there are still a few rooms available here

Parking in the hostel is non existent, there are parking spots in and around the area near to the hostel, just be aware of parking restrictions yourself.

There is basic breakfast facilities in the morning, cereals, bread, coffee, tea making. This area is shared with anyone and everyone that is staying that weekend, not necessarily with our group, if you are bringing your own food, make sure its marked.

There is a bike ‘lockup’ outside, this is a metal shed with lockable rails around the inside, you need to bring your own locks to ensure they are secured overnight in the shed. There is NO allowing bikes inside the hostel. If you want to leave them in your cars this is your call to make.

Eating out, there is no food provided for lunch or dinner, this is a free camp after all, we will be undoubtedly cycling during all lunches so this is as per the group you are in or just suffer til the end of the route, the idea of preparing routes for you to download is that there will be a wide range of people cycling and the pacier groups won’t be waiting around. Dinner in the evenings however may be a chance for people to get to know each other and mingle and although will be subject to change at a drop of a hat will most likely follow this.

  • Friday – Bring your own to reheat or go to Ambleside and get a pub dinner.
  • Saturday – Depending on what time people finish this brute I would say stumbling into a pub in town would be the only answer.
  • Sunday – Food at the Moorcock Inn after the ride and wait for the stragglers.
  • Monday – Home bound.
[Fegan’s note – if you feel you’re under-prepared, a little overweight, not quite at peak condition then don’t worry – I’ll be there to keep you company. I’ve done zero training and lots of eating for 6 months and now in week 2 of panic bike training – I’ve no idea if I can do day 1 never mind day 2 so no excuses please]

Loose outline of timings for the weekend.

  • Friday
    • 1pm to leave at 1.15pm Meet outside Ambleside Backpackers ready to go please. Route estimated to take around 5 hours
    • 7pm – 10km run
  • Saturday
    • 8am to leave at 8.15am at the latest outside hostel. Route estimated to take 8-10 hours
    • 6.30pm – 10 km run
  • Sunday
    • 8am ready to DRIVE to Moorcock Inn. Should take around 70 mins to drive.
    • 9.30am leave on route. Route estimated to take 7-9 hours.
    • 6pm – 10 km run
    • 7pm – Eat
  • Monday
    • 6am – 10km run
    • 8am ready to leave for 8.15am at latest outside hostel. Route estimated to take 3.5 – 4.5 hours
    • 2pm – Lunch somewhere.

All times are subject to change and people are more than welcome to set off earlier to get in their runs if they are back from the bike earlier.

Swimming plans for the weekend

Mmmm, there are none, both pools we had scoped for this had been closed, one for renovation, the other has become a private pool. There is the option to take in a dip in the lake and wetsuits I would suggest are not optional, at least you may have a few spectators if you decide to do this, last time we tried to have a swim in the Lake we had a bus full of tourists snapping away. Although all they saw was Fegan getting out after 30 seconds !

Running plans for the weekend

We have a plan to complete camp by running a minimum of 10k per day, this may change and certainly isn’t mandatory but will be required for ‘camp completion’. We will try to scope any routes out on the Friday morning but its probably going to be ‘a la carte’ as the area is unknown to us.

Cycling Plans for the weekend

Friday 1st May – Day 1Download Route here

Route 1 will follow the route the intrepid Fudge Packers took in 2011, this will start in Ambleside and head back down the Fred Whitton course over Wrynose and Hardknott in the opposite direction to the famous Sportive route but then head south at Esdale skirting around Burn Moor and passing through Broughton in Furness. There is a small section along the A595 after this which we would urge you to take caution on as always on main roads but soon enough a left hander off to Beckside brings you back onto smaller lanes and ambling countryside. Passing through Newby Bridge the route skirts the bottom of Windermere before climbing up to Bowland Bridge to give stunning views of the lake (weather and personal mood dependant at that point I am sure). Eventually reaching Bowness the sight of Ambleside should be pretty welcome on this the first and possibly easiest day over the weekend.

Friday 1st May Day 1 Route
Friday 1st May Day 1 Route

Day 1 Elevation

route 4 elevation

Saturday 2nd May – Day 2Download Route here

Having tasted the Fred Whitton sting in the tail that is Hardknott and Wrynose from Day 1 we will today be following the famously hard sportive from our base in Ambleside in the right direction. This route takes in 6 of the Lake Districts highest passes and is a real test.

You will first hit Troutbeck, right out of Ambleside this is just a lead in to Kirkstone pass reached the alternative route from ‘The Struggle’ The descent off the highest pass in the Lakes means care should be taken here please. After working through Patterdale and Glenridding you will eventually come out onto the A66 to Keswick, this is a very busy road and although not on this for very long there is a rumble strip you can use for most of the way to Keswick.

The road to Seatoller is a well worn route and with some bad road surfaces. However the pain is yet to come, climbing out of Seatoller is possibly the hardest hill on the route, Honister Pass ! It starts steep and stays steep. The descent again is extremely fast and you are advised to take it easy for the first 100m or so before the road opens up to prevent uncontrolled ascending.

After entering the Buttermere valley you will soon be climbing again out via Newlands Pass, an innocuous looking start to a painful last stretch, the descent is worth the effort with a visible route down to Braithwaite. The climb to Whinlatter Pass is a long and slow ascent but a great downhill awaits. Once again the respite is short and the climb out to Fangs Brow starts sooner than you would wish. I know it sounds like this just goes up and down but you wouldn’t be wrong, you are going to earn supper tonight. Over Cold Fell which can be a fantastic view or a harsh windswept environment depending on the weather you drop down into Calder Bridge, again caution on the descents.

The path down to Gosforth brings a welcome rest for most as this is the best place in the village to restock on valuable fuel for the final push to Hardknott and Wrynose. Personally I have always felt that leaving out the climb of Santon is just unfair as its no small effort taking out the last strength from weary limbs before the inevitable slow march to Hardknott and Wrynose.

Hardknott is pretty much the hardest climb most people will attempt on a bike, it kicks up immediately after the base sign advertising an eye watering 33% gradient. Once over the cattle grids the path relents a little but then the hairpins come into sight and if you really want to stayin the saddle for these I suggest slowing up a little to get yuor breath back as once you start into it there is no respite until the top. The descent is awful, very steep, and hairpin after hairpin, please be careful.

Wrynose is across the valley floor and can be seen for at least 20 minutes before you really start to climb, its a sharp 25% at the top and climbing it the previous day the other way around won’t give you the scale of what you are about the attempt again.

You are pretty much done after these 2 but as we started in Ambleside you will still have Langdale to climb out of and then the climb out of Coniston to Ambleside. If you are still riding and not swearing at this point, well done.

Fred Whitton Route - Day 2
Fred Whitton Route – Day 2

Day 2 Elevation

FW profile

Sunday 3rd May – Day 3Download route here

With Day 3 on us its time to move away from the lakes to attempt probably the next hardest sportive in the UK calendar, the Etape Du Dales route. We will be starting from the Moorcock Inn, Garsdale Head, Sedburgh, LA10 5PU. This is an ideal point closest to our Lakes retreat and provides a fantastic place to eat after a long day in the saddle so bring some cash to ensure you can stock up on well earned food.

The Etape Du Dales ride is no small feat, stopping 2 of the Buccaneer Tri team at the last outing.  Halfway around there is a bail out point when you reach Hawes for those wanting a shorter ride and a longer run option and this can be discussed the night before. With the height gain north of 3500m over 112 miles this is going to be a test, lets hope that the weather is kind as the north end of the course can be a little exposed.
Straight out of the car park we will attempt to climb over Coal Road and from there the lanes and roads of the Yorkshire plains never really give up, the scenery is fantastic and the riding awesome, I just hope you are in a position to enjoy.
I don’t know this route as well as the FW but at the south end of the course is Grassington and a welcome coffee stop awaits  before you head north along the route back up towards Hawes, there is a steep descent into Gayle just before Hawes, a few of us clocked over 60mph on this the last time and can be a fantastic descent but please be aware of the road users and riders. Across the top of the course the challenge of Tan Hill rewards you with breathtaking views over the moors but at this point you will probably be thinking of the dinner at the Moorcroft.

Probably my favourite part of the course is the descent into Nateby, long sweeping single track littered with sheep scattering all over the place, fast and exhilarating, we really don’t need any mutton for tea, its sorted. There is only one downside to the way we do the route, most of the climbing is  over the last 50 miles and will be a real challenge from Hawes onwards. Make sure you have enough nutrition on board and a good helping of HTFU !!

Once we get back and the run is done, a quick change and dinner awaits.

Etape Du Dales Route - Day 3
Etape Du Dales Route – Day 3

Day 3 Elevation

etape profile

Monday 4th May – Day 4Download Route here

With the group potentially splitting today with leavers wanting to dash early we have made a consideration for this and reduced the distance and elevation for weary legs but not so much that you won’t notice this one. The course follows the Rpaha Womens 100 route from 2014. Taking in the South Lakes this keeps us off the same climbs as the first 2 days and looks further afield to something new. None of the Buccaneer Tri team have done this route and it has been picked for distance and location only, it will be a surprise for us too.

rapha route

Day 4 Elevation

rapha elevation

Course downloads

We have provided the courses to download based on existing routes that can be found on the internet and uploaded them to to enable easy download and then loading onto your device.

There are a number of options for this and I am sure most people can decide what format they want to use but a couple of pointers.

How to use the links

Click link 🙂 This opens and takes you to the route map and description, elevation information etc.

Then click on the EXPORT button on the top line of the page. You will be presented with this.

tcx explain

Decide what type of file you need. Here are a few tips as to what type might be better for you.

  • GPX and TCX are both XML file formats. Both contain GPS waypoints, tracks, routes, etc.
  • GPX is an open format, free for development use without licenses.
  • TCX is a proprietary format developed by Garmin. It allows additional information such as heart beat and cadence.
  • Unless you plan to use a non-Garmin device, it doesn’t matter what format you use going from the website to your Garmin GPS device. Non Garmin, use GPX
  • You can always use the Garmin option as long as you have the Garmin Communicator Installed, just follow the instructions on the Garmin page.

If you pick TCX, don’t forget to add warnings and course points. 150metres should be enough warning for a change of direction.

tcx 2

Then download.

rapha save

Then upload to your device.

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