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Mountain Bike in the Lake District with a Cicerone Guidebook - Introduction

Cover of Mountain Biking in the Lake District
13 Apr 2017
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.2cm
1st Published
15 Feb 2011
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Mountain Biking in the Lake District

by Ian Boydon
Book published by Cicerone Press

A guidebook for 24 original and exciting graded mountain biking routes in the Lake District, offering some of the best MTB riding in the UK. Includes circular routes suitable for all abilities, from Kendal to Cleator Moor in the north-west and Keswick to Winster in the Lyth Valley, including a circumnavigation of Windermere.

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Size: 17.2 x 11.6 x 1.2cm
Weight: 230g

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Buy your choice of routes or chapters to read online, on your mobile device or to download as a PDF to print or read. Browse Routes


The Lake District is widely considered to be the best destination for mountain biking in the UK and, with its plentiful and varied trails, it is easy to see why.

For mountain biking in Britain, there really is no better area. This guidebook gives great insight into the best trails on offer in the lakes, with routes that will offer surprises to both newcomers to the area and seasoned visitors alike.

  • 24 routes divided into short, medium, long and full-day loops
  • graded rides to suit all levels of experience, from beginners through to experts
  • route information on distance, difficulty grade, ascent, time and how much of the route goes off road
  • Seasons
    Although it is recommended that a few of the routes should only be done during periods of good weather, most can be ridden all year round.
  • Centres
    Threlkeld, Pooley Bridge, Cleator Moor, Muncaster, Torver, Grizedale, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Elterwater, Kendal, Staveley, High Newton, Spark Bridge, Winster
  • Difficulty
    Routes are graded blue (medium), red (hard) and black (very hard). Novice MTBers with reasonable bike-handling skills should be able to complete the blue routes, while experts should be challenged by the red and, more so, the black routes.
  • Must See
    The dramatic Garburn and Gatesgarth passes; views of Coniston Water, Esthwaite Water, Grasmere, Rydal Water, Elterwater, Ulswater, Derwent Water and Haweswater; circuit of Windermere
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Getting to the Lake District
Bike checks
When to ride
Rest and recovery
Rights of way
Trail centres
The dirty dozen
Pre-ride checklist
Short Loops
Route 1 Tour of Loughrigg Fell
Route 2 Spark Bridge
Route 3 Borrowdale and Whinfell
Route 4 Kendal and Brigsteer
Route 5 Hawkshead and Hodge Close
Route 6 Howtown and Askham
Route 7 Elterwater and the Langdales
Medium Loops
Route 8 Muncaster
Route 9 Winster
Route 10 High Newton and Cartmel
Route 11 Tour of Claife Heights and High Wray
Route 12 Kentmere Special
Route 13 Cleator Moor
Long Loops
Route 14 Torver and Kirkby Moor
Route 15 Grizedale Grunt
Route 16 Loadpot Hill
Route 17 Blencathra and the Old Coach Road
Route 18 Garburn and Longsleddale
Route 19 Haweswater and Gatesgarth
Route 20 Dunnerdale Enduro
Full Day Loops
Route 21 Parkamoor, Satterthwaite and Hawkshead Monster
Route 22 Tour de Windermere
Route 23 Mealbank, Borrowdale and the Breasthigh Road
Route 24 Longsleddale, Kentmere and Troutbeck
Appendix Bike shops in the region


The Lake District is England's only truly mountainous region and arguably its most beautiful. It is also consistently considered the top destination for mountain biking in the country. There are numerous reasons why. The sublime landscape provides the perfect backdrop to every riding experience; then there are the trails themselves. Although not purpose-built with mountain bikers in mind, the Lakes' vast network of bridleways and byways can be legally plundered by those seeking riding nirvana.

The Lake District's many trails are also varied in character. Perhaps it is the ability to mix high mountain passes, scintillating singletrack and rocky technical descents with flowing forest tracks and quietly charming low-level lanes that provides the region's long lasting appeal to fat-tyre adventurers.

There are two perfectly respectable trail centres in the Lakes at Grizedale and Whinlatter forests. However, despite making use of a couple of short sections of the North Face path in Grizedale, this book aims to allow riders to discover a much richer mountain biking experience on the region's varied ‘natural' tracks.

Although this book contains several routes that tour the north of the Lake District, the overwhelming majority are contained within the southern half of the national park. This refects the difference in the landscape; the more rolling south Lakes is crossed by plenty of suitable (and excellent) mountain biking trails, while the northern half is steeper and more dramatic but unfortunately scarce in suitable bridleways.

Dropping down to Howtown and looking across Ullswater on Route 6

This book aims to guide the reader along the Lakes' most thrilling trails, while also aiming to avoid long stretches of pushing and carrying. The few routes that do contain significant pushes are clearly marked to forewarn you, and are only included because the rest of the ride is worth the effort.

Riders' abilities are different, and the days during the winter months are shorter than in summer. For these reasons care has been taken to include a good mix of loops, of varying lengths and technical difficulty. This should ensure that the guide is enjoyed with confidence by mountain bikers of all levels of experience.

All that is left to say is: pick a route, saddle up and enjoy the ride.

Starting a fast singletrack descent to Wood Farm on Route 9

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