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Mountain Bike in the Lake District with a Cicerone Guidebook - Sample Route

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 individual routes

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

Sample Route

Tour of Loughrigg Fell
Start/FinishElterwater NY 328 047
Distance12km (7½ miles)
On Road4km (2½ miles)
Off Road8km (5 miles)
Percent Off Road65%
Ascent525m (1720ft)
Time1hr 30mins – 2hrs
PubBritannia Inn, Elterwater
ParkingCar park by the bridge in Elterwater or car park on the edge of Elterwater (off the road to Chapel Stile)

Lying north-east of Elterwater is pretty Loughrigg Fell, a circumnavigation of which provides a superb mountain bike journey with fine descents and stunning views over Grasmere and Rydal Water to the north and Windermere to the south. One of the long descents, Loughrigg Terrace, is also very popular with walkers and (especially on mid-summer bank holiday weekends) great care should be taken on it.

A water obstacle on the southern flank of Loughrigg Fell


A tarmac climb out of Elterwater gets the legs warmed up before the fun of Loughrigg Terrace. This excellent descent clings to the fell-side and provides breathtaking views across two of Wordsworth's favourite lakes. A short dip in Rydal Water beckons before a return to tarmac. The next off-road section arrives soon after the stiff climb to Brow Head Farm. Views over Windermere can be had on clear days from the top of this trail before it shoots downwards again to give a superb descent to Tarn Foot. A careful road descent to Skelwith Bridge is followed by an easy and picturesque cruise along Elterwater's beck to return to the start point.


1 Starting in the centre of Elterwater take the lane NE passing between the Britannia pub and the village store. At the crossroads continue and turn at the next T-junction to climb out of Elterwater towards Red Bank.

2 After passing High Close youth hostel you arrive at a T-junction. Turn then immediately through a gate onto a bridleway to Loughrigg Terrace. Go at the next gate to emerge onto the Terrace. Don't miss the views over Grasmere as you plunge down this highly enjoyable singletrack descent.

3 At a crossroads of tracks continue ; to descend to the shore of Rydal Water; take care on the tricky first section by a stone wall. Continue along the edge of Rydal Water to meet a rocky escarpment. The bridleway now contours on a recently created track around the bottom of this escarpment, which previously required a brief carry across the rocks.

4 Continue on the track to meet a gate. Pass through and continue as the track turns to tarmac and descends quickly to meet a T-junction by a stone bridge, at which turn .

5 Follow this quiet lane for less than 2km to meet a tarmac lane on the right signed bridleway. Take this turning and climb the steep path to pass houses. Past the buildings the gradient eases and the tarmac track surface deteriorates. Continue to pass through a gate and emerge on the fell-side.

6 Keep to the obvious main track as it climbs initially before giving a fun, long descent around Ivy Crag to meet a gate. Continue as the track becomes looser and more technical before emerging at Tarn Foot cottages. Continue at the crossroads of tracks and arrive at a tarmac lane.

7 Turn then first Take care to keep speeds down as this lane becomes very steep, with sharp bends as it drops to Skelwith Bridge. Turn onto the A593, cross the bridge then turn immediately onto a bridleway. At the next fork turn and follow this easy track past Elter Water to return to the start point in Elterwater village.

The fun drop into High Ickenthwaite

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