Amidst the books, chocolates and Alexas, I’m sure there were a few new bikes under the tree this Christmas.

Cycling is a growing sport. According to government figures, the distance travelled in the UK by bike has grown by nearly a third in the ten years to 2017, to 3.27bn miles a year.

So if you’re finding yourself on a bike for the first time in years, or taking the kids on their first cycling treat, you are not alone. With the new year, no doubt comes a ‘new you’ (at least until February) - so exploit this new-found purpose. However, it can be hard to know where you can get out safely and get your confidence back on two-wheels.

Unfortunately, some of the best local lakeland routes are out of action. The old road to the west of Thirlmere remains closed for works. And the cycle path along the old railway out of Keswick to Threlkeld is still out of action thanks to flood damage. There is a diverted route, but it isn’t as good. However, restoration work is due to start, so hopefully this popular family and traffic-free route through the Lake District will return.

Cycling elsewhere in the Lakes can be daunting - there isn’t far you can go without hitting a hill. But all is not lost. Check out the relatively quiet and flat B5322 through St John’s in the Vale. Or head east along the A66 cyclepaths from Threlkeld and then north through Mungrisedale. If you have the legs, carry on to the lovely villages of Hesket Newmarket or even Caldbeck before returning along the same route.

For some of the best family-friendly and novice routes, however, west is best. Try out the path along the prom at Maryport, heading out to Allonby. It boasts sweeping coastal views, and a flat, good surface as well as places to enjoy a drink at either end before heading back. Just check the wind direction. There’s nothing worse than coaxing tired kids back into a gale!

Workington also has its fair share of great, traffic-free cycle paths. Using the leisure centre in Griffin Street as your base, join the path which runs between it and the cricket pitch to take you to Maryport, via Flimby or out beyond Seaton. You can also head south through Workington and out to Lillyhall and even on to Whitehaven - crossing just one or two roads along the way. And as these routes follow old railway lines, the gradient (if any) is gradual and all are tarmac for much of the way.

Once you’ve got your confidence back, and the legs to go with it, you’ll be ready for one of the long-distance routes we have in our area - the Coast to Coast, Hadrian’s Cycleway, and my personal favourite the Reivers Route. All are well signed and generally stick to cycle paths and quiet roads. Find out more via Sustrans at

And enjoy your new found freedom.