• AUD
    • NZD
    • USD
    • CAD
    • CHF
    • EUR
    • SEK
    • DKK

Your Cart is Empty

Three Lakes, Three Mates

4 min read bike, Merino

Welcome to a tale of adventure set in the enchanting Lake District National Park, a gem in the heart of England. This story is about three lakes, three mates, and three rafts, all converging to create an unforgettable journey that combines pedal power and paddle prowess.
Three Lakes, Three Mates

Tackling an Adventure by Pedal and Paddle

Famed, named and loved for its wide-open waters, the Lake District National Park is the jewel in the English crown. A picturesque patchwork of shimmering lakes, vast valleys and pristine mountains crisscrossed by ancient stone walls. A place where shadowy ridgelines explode with golden light and the sound of skylarks, red kites and meadow pipits fill the air. Where footpaths, lakeside trails and bridleways reign supreme as riders, ramblers, and paddlers descend to enjoy its natural beauty.

Breathtaking as it may be, the Lake District is also a tough and rugged place. A land punctuated with tricky terrain and wild topography, where steep-sided valleys, rushing rivers and lengthy lakes create a set of gnarly geological boundaries that divide the North, South, Central, Eastern and Western areas dramatically.

Where roads do exist, they’re as steep as goat trails, busy with tourists and not that exciting. So when it came time to plan our first ever route in the region, the odds were seriously stacked against us.

Bec sets off with bike on board

Enter; bikerafting

After riding Montanas Vacias in Spain just a few months earlier, our motley
crew banded together again to explore a whole new kind of human powered adventure: Bikerafting! Bikerafting exists at the confluence of cycling and packrafting. A combination of human powered activities working together to achieve one simple goal: freedom. The freedom that comes with being able to not only look at trails and paths in undiscovered places but to see new routes come to life as rivers become roads.

By simply strapping our rafts to our bikes while riding, then our bikes to our rafts while paddling, we were able to unlock new routes in the Lake District, allowing us to experience both the joys of being on the water and also in the mountains, tackling the trails and ripping down the gravel.

The bikerafters take a seat for well-earned ice cream.

Ride. Roam. Paddle.

Three days out from starting our adventure, we sat casually in front of our computers, sipping coffee, drawing potential routes and comparing set-ups. Creating a bikerafting route in the Lake District seemed easy. How hard could it be to link up three of the region’s famous lakes, some quaint Cumbrian towns and 150km of its epic bike trails? Well as it turns out, it's VERY hard! So hard that we brought on local legend Nils to help us link these seemingly impossible trails together.

Standing at the banks of Lake Windermere, fuelled by a heady concoction of caffeine and anxiety, we unload the rafts from our bikes for their maiden voyage. None of us have been bikerafting before, and it shows. Two hours and a myriad of mistakes later, we began our paddle across the famous Lake Windermere, en-route to Grizedale forest. With a heat wave hitting the lakes, we repack the bikes, climbing up gravel roads and steep hike-a-bike sections in the searing sun.

Saved by the shade of Grizedale forest, we tackle a mix of smooth rolling bridleways and technical single tracks and weave through pine trees. Fast, fun and flowy the route comes to life as our rafts and paddles bounce around on our bikes. Lake Coniston is in the distance as we pedal through the forest, emerging on the ridgeline where we’re treated to some spectacular views over the lake.

Hitting a rocky descent, we weave our way through farms, past hay bales and down bridleways until we reach the lakeside. Buoyed by our maiden expedition, we break down the bikes, inflate the rafts and set out on the water as the sun begins to set. Amongst a pastel sky and calm, glassy waters, we begin our paddle to our island campsite. Jetting out from the island like an antenna, we spot a patch of rock, barely large enough for two tents. But with the sun setting and all our camping gear inside the bowls of our rafts, we don’t have much choice - as we surrender to the sunset and set up camp.

Karam and Bec nearing the summit with Lake Coniston in the background.

We rose with the dawn the next morning, hitting the water early and paddling for half the day to clear Lake Coniston. One final effort remaining, we pack up the raft and begin the mega-climb up the aptly named: ‘Struggle’. A rite of passage for local riders, the Struggle is a 500m climb from Ambleside to Kirkstone Pass. After a long morning on the water, it kicked all our asses into shape. But as we descended down the other side of the pass, through tiny English villages and pretty roadside pubs, all was forgotten as the pain of the day faded into the background.

Bec sets off with bike on board.

Gear vs Water

The main challenge encountered when bikerafting was staying dry – and in turn, warm. We were lucky to be in mostly high temperatures, with our Merino Icon tees drying at rapid speed once we started riding. Some of our paddles were in the late evening, so as the temperatures dropped we switched over to our long sleeve Icons for a little extra warmth. It’s very easy to underestimate the cold when being out on and around water, especially if wind is involved. Our Merino layers kept us toasty warm and ready for camp.

Bec and Sam - High fives at sunset high above the lake

So what did we learn

Combining bikepacking and packrafting is a whole lot of fun. Pair that with rocky trails, pine forests, pub lunches and candyfloss sunsets on the water and you’re in for a pretty epic English bikerafting adventure. As always, we loved riding with Karam, and really enjoyed adding the new element of hitting the water to our cycling journey. Let's just say this isn’t the last time you’ll see us mixing bikepacking with packrafting…