The Three Peaks Challenge – cycling from Scafell Pike to Snowdon

On Thursday 31st July we rode away from Hollows Farm in Borrowdale.

Leaving Hollows farm in Borrowdale

Leaving Hollows farm in Borrowdale

It was before 9am so the B5289 back to Keswick was still quiet and we rode out of Keswick up the A591. When we reached Thirlmere we headed off round the back of the lake on a traffic free lane.

Quiet, picturesque lane around Thirlmere.

Quiet, picturesque lane around Thirlmere.


After a few more quick miles on the A591 we went into Grasmere, which is a real hub for the tourists as it is such a pretty village. We then continued on the quiet lanes bypassing Ambleside towards Skelwith Bridge. This being the Lake District we encountered a few steep inclines here.

From Skelwith Bridge we cycled through Skelwith Fold Caravan Park and then onto a cycle path along the western shore of Lake Windermere , which took us directly to the Bowness Ferry .

Bowness Ferry across Lake Windermere.

Bowness Ferry across Lake Windermere.

We continued through Kendal – again using a cycle path – and then crossed the M6.

Crossing the M6 south of Kendal.

Crossing the M6 south of Kendal.

We were able to stay on quiet roads out of Cumbria and into Lancashire. We cycled down to Garstang and camped there on the edge of the huge conurbation to be faced the next day.

It was raining as we left Garstang and as we cycled down the busy A6 towards Preston it was pouring down and we were soaked through very quickly. We decided to use the subway on the huge M55/A6 roundabout and then followed the intricate route on the Garmin through Preston. The route through Preston was excellent and used bus lanes and cycle paths keeping us away from the traffic. We headed south through Leyland – another very heavy shower – and then to Eccleston. We passed a new shopping complex and spotted a cafe. Screech of brakes and we skidded to a halt. Randomly Sir Bradley Wiggins’ gold post box was outside the cafe.

Sir Bradley Wiggins' gold post box at Eccleston

Sir Bradley Wiggins’ gold post box at Eccleston (face still swollen from wasp sting allergy)

The route south from Eccleston through Orrell,and Haydock to Warrington was excellent. It was much better than the route I followed last year on LEJOG through Widnes and St Helens.

Warrington was very busy and we used the cycle paths beside the main roads. We crossed the River Mersey.

Crossing the River Mersey as we cleared Warrington.

Crossing the River Mersey as we cleared Warrington.

South of Warrington we were once again on quiet roads, passing through the village of Stretton. However we still had a few miles to ride on the A49 as this was the only road across the Mersey Canal – the remaining obstacle between us and rural Cheshire.

The busy A49 south of Warrington.

The busy A49 south of Warrington.

The path alongside the A49 was overgrown and difficult to ride on. We walked through the junction at the A49/ A533 crossroads as it was congested with heavy traffic and the danger was compounded by another torrential downpour.

We were about 2km from the quiet cycle route to Delamere Forest when we decided that the A49 was too dangerous to continue. It was 16:30 on a Friday afternoon, torrential rain, no path beside the twisting, bendy road. We retreated to the safety of the Hollybush Inn (closed!) and called Ian to come and pick us up. We did this with great reluctance but knew that we were in a dangerous position. We later found out that the traffic congestion was compounded by Carfest North.

The following morning we drove a short distance away from the Carfest area and began cycling at the outskirts of Chester. We picked up the A548. It was still raining and the urban landscape we were cycling through was pretty depressing. At Flint we needed the loo (no hedges around here!). We went into the library at Flint where we met such kindness and empathy from the ladies there (we looked like drowned rats)– and the key to their loo – that it lifted our spirits and cheered us up no end as we pressed on through the driving rain.

The traffic thinned out as we continued along the A548 which follows the River Dee Estuary. This area definitely had the feel of social deprivation about it. As we turned West towards Prestatyn the skies began to brighten and the rain became lighter. We stopped at Greenacres Caravan Park and had an excellent second breakfast.

The weather was definitely looking better as we picked up Cycle Route 5 along the North Wales Coastal Cycleway.

The North Wales coastal cycleway at Prestatyn

The North Wales coastal cycleway at Prestatyn

We continued along this cycleway through Rhyl and the weather quickly improved to a dry, warm, sunny day. Hurrah!

The North Wales coastal cycleway.

The North Wales coastal cycleway.

We cycled along this excellent cycle path for about 30km. In that time we passed less than 20 pedestrians and cyclists. It was remarkably quiet given that this was a Saturday in August and now a dry, sunny, warm day. If this facility was in the South West it would be very busy. Maybe Kathryn’s assessment sums it up. ‘Only posh families cycle and there aren’t many posh people round here’???? There were certainly plenty of families about but they seemed to be drawn to the amusement arcades and fairground that proliferate along this coastal strip.

At Colwyn Bay we took the A470 inland towards Betwys-y-Coed. At the first opportunity we left this busy road and crossed the River Conwy to the quieter B5106. Betws-y-Coed was very busy in the sunshine.

Betwys-y-Coed.

Betwys-y-Coed.

We then joined the A5 to Capel Curig. As expected this route ascends but it is gradual and we soon arrived at Capel Curig and and the wonderful Moel Siabod cafe.

At the Moel Siabod cafe

At the Moel Siabod cafe

We stopped to take on board fuel for the final stretch to Beddgelert. The descent on the A4998 passing the Llyn Gwynant was very good fun. Kathryn had become much more confident on her bike over the last week.

Descending towards Beddgelert.

Descending towards Beddgelert.

We were very happy to reach Beddgelert and to complete our challenge of riding between Ben Nevis and Snowdon via Scafell Pike.

Challenge completed. Arrival at Beddgelert. Snowdonia

Challenge completed. Arrival at Beddgelert, Snowdonia

GPX files for the three days riding can be downloaded here:

Day 5: Borrowdale to Garstang.

Day 6: Garstang to Delamere.

Day 7: Delamere to Beddgelert.

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