Route 6 takes you from bustling London in the south to the serene and picturesque Lake District in the north-west of England. This 427-mile route is ideal for adventure cyclists, cycle tourers and bikepackers looking for an interesting new challenge. Along the way you’ll pass through the beautiful British countryside, interesting cities and charming towns such as Market Harborough, Kendal and Windermere.
As you travel along Route 6 you’ll get to enjoy some of England’s fantastic old canals. Near the southern end of the route you follow the Grand Union Canal for a time and, further north, you cycle along the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
This allows you to appreciate these amazing old canals which criss-cross the country. Following the canal towpath makes for calm cycling away from busy traffic.
When you leave Luton you’ll follow traffic-free paths and the Sewell Greenway before continuing on-road to Leighton Buzzard. A lovely route along the Grand Union Canal towpath then joins Leighton Buzzard with Bletchley, continuing on mainly traffic-free paths through the east of Milton Keynes.
Milton Keynes connects with Derby via Leicester and Loughborough and includes the 16-mile Brampton Valley Way between Northampton and Market Harborough. This section is also part of the South Midlands cycle route. Look out for an excellent traffic-free section through central Leicester and the 13-mile Cloud Trail between Worthington and Derby.
Route 6 links the urban areas of Derby, Long Eaton, Beeston and Nottingham before heading through Sherwood Forest to Worksop and on to Sheffield via the Rother Valley Country Park.
The route follows the Peak Park Anniversary route from Sheffield rail station out to the Hope Valley via Ringinglow and the southern edge of Ladybower Reservoir. There are two sections of traffic-free route - one along Porter Brook between Bingham Park and Carr Bridge and the other across the Ladybower Reservoir dam and then south to Thornhill along the path of the old railway line constructed to provide materials for the dam.
There are currently sections of Route 6 under development between Castleton and Penistone.
From Marple to Reddish the route follows Route 55 to Portwood, outside Stockport, to where it meets Route 62, heading east along a traffic-free section of the Trans Pennine Trail (West) to Reddish in Greater Manchester.
Route 6 resumes at Reddish and enters Manchester via the traffic-free Fallowfield Loop Line and then on residential streets through Whalley Range into the city centre. Heading towards Bury the route follows much of the Irwell Sculpture Trail.
Bury and Accrington are linked via on-road and traffic-free sections of the old East Lancashire railway path. Accrington to Blackburn follows the towpath of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
Between Blackburn and Preston the route is still being developed but it exists from Blackburn to Pleasington Rail Station, travelling through Witton Country Park. It resumes along the River Ribble from Samlesbury into central Preston.
As you head out of Preston, Route 6 follows country roads through the Lancashire countryside to the Lune Estuary from where the path follows the estuary into Lancaster city centre. North of Lancaster, Route 6 follows the towpath along the Lancaster Canal to Carnforth, from where the route follows minor roads into Kendal.
Some sections of Route 6 in Cumbria are still being developed. The route is currently open between Kendal and Windermere, continuing part-way to Ambleside following a gap through central Windemere. At Steel End at the southern end of Thirlmere the route begins again and continues to Threlkeld. From here Route 71 along an old railway path links the four miles to Keswick.
Route 6 is a long-distance adventure which will excite cycle tourers looking for a challenge. Along this route you’ll pass the gorgeous landscapes of the Lake District, historic canals and some of the UK’s most picturesque and interesting towns and cities.
We have taken all responsible steps to ensure that these routes are safe and achievable by people with a reasonable level of fitness. However, all outdoor activities involve a degree of risk. To the extent permitted by law, Sustrans accepts no responsibility for any accidents or injury resulting from following these routes. Walking and cycling routes change over time. Weather conditions may also affect path surfaces. Please use your own judgement when using the routes based upon the weather and the ability, experience and confidence levels of those in your group.