PRAISE has been heaped on the Lake District for being the first national park to host a major cycling scheme.

British Cycling has thanked GoLakes Travel for bringing 33 rides and 364 participants to the area since last May.

Sky Ride Local, a series of free guided bike rides, kicked off with a special ride featuring Cumbrian-born TV star Helen Skelton in Cartmel – and has gone from strength to strength since.

Stewart Kellett, of British Cycling, said: "The partnership we’ve formed with Go Lakes Travel has already proved to be special .

"Together we’ve created a fantastic opportunity for local people and visitors alike to enjoy guided ride in the Lake District National Park.”

British Cycling has also announced a new series of free guided rides to run this spring in the national park.

Claire Maclaine, GoLakes travel programme manager, said: "There’s a real enthusiasm for cycling and these fun rides are a great way for families and friends to discover quiet and traffic-free routes, along with enthusiastic guides who can help build their confidence.”

The full schedule of 2014 guided rides will be confirmed in the next few weeks.