The UK’s top cyclists tackle the ultimate Lakes challenge

Visitors staying with us this coming weekend will be aware of considerable excitement in the valley. It’s the day of the Fred Whitton Challenge, known locally just as “The Fred”, one of the toughest cycle sportives in the world.

A Fred Whitton challenger passing the hostel last year

The ride is a real challenge and everyone who completes it has a true sense of achievement. The Challenge is a charity event in honour of the late Fred Whitton who was a great advocate for cycle sport in Cumbria and North Lancashire. It is with respect to Fred and his ideals that the event remains just that, ‘a challenge’ rather than an official race. Though the top riders certain go at race pace to achieve astonishing finish times.

Fred, who died aged just 50 in 1998, was an extremely popular member of the Lakes Road Club. The Challenge consists of a 112 mile route around the Lake District, starting at Grasmere and taking in climbs of Kirkstone, Honister, Newlands, Whinlatter, Hardknott and Wrynose passes, and until last year it actually went past our door. In fact, this year it’s grown to 114 miles with an extra loop in Langdale, so it now goes past the end of our road..

It’s very tough indeed. The top riders complete the route in under six hours but eleven hours and over are not uncommon for the average sportive cyclist. Last year the fastest was Nick Williamson in 5:45.

The first of the 2,500 riders set off at 6am from Grasmere. Some roads will be closed…notably Hardknott and Wrynose … and for details of where best to watch, and other information, see

The event is supporting Macmillan Cancer Care and for details of how to donate see