10 The Best Mountain Biking Routes In The Lake District

10 March 2018

There’s lots to see and do in the Lake District, from hiking and fell running to afternoon tea and museums, with something for everyone on offer.

However, the area is perhaps best well known for its rugged and challenging landscape, which lends itself perfectly to mountain biking.

With that in mind, we’ve found 10 of the best mountain biking routes in the Lakes.

 

Muncaster Fell

This is an easy route that’s suited to beginner mountain bikers or those with little ones and offers a great chance to follow the railway line of the La’al Ratty train.

Following bridleways for the majority of the route, you’ll travel along the side of the fell before a short climb to come level with it, before a fast track down the other side. There is only one single track to navigate.

There’s also a chance to stop off at Muncaster Castle on this route, or the Bowerhouse Inn for some refreshments.

Difficulty rating: Easy

 

Witherslack

This is another easy route suited to beginners and children or can be used as a shorter ride if the weather is too bad to ride the higher fells.

Featuring woodland, limestone cliffs, gentle climbs and fast, easy downhills, you’ll follow open bridleways, farm tracks and quiet roads for the majority of this route, with one short length of single track to add in some more technical fun.

You’ll get to pass through ancient woodland, open fields, and old villages, with the chance to stop off at the Hikers’ Rest en route.

Difficulty rating: Easy

 

Windermere Lakeside

A shorter and easier version of the Claife Heights route set out below, this is perfect for the less experienced riders, with two different routes available.

For the junior riders, a 5 mile out and back along the lake follows gravel tracks through woodland, with some gentle climbing and some rocky parts. For those with slightly more experience, a steady loop around the gentle bridleways of Claife Heights is ideal.

There are plenty of opportunities for refreshment stops and even a chance to see Beatrix Potter’s farm, Hill Top, in Near Sawrey.

Difficulty rating: Easy

 

Loughrigg Fell

This loop is a nice combination of easy riding and more technical sections, so it’s a great route for those looking for the best of both.

With great views across Windermere, you’ll gain a lot of height at the beginning, right up to Loughrigg Fell. Once you’ve reached the top, though, you’ll be rewarded with a fast descent down into Skelwith Bridge on some single-track, with some technical sections of drop-offs, loose rocks and boulders.

Just be careful of other bikers and walkers, however, as this route can get busy on days with good weather.

Difficulty rating: Medium

 

Claife Heights

This ride is typical of mountain biking in the Lake District, full of steep uphills and swift descents, all with a stunning backdrop.

If you’re based on the east side of Lake Windermere, you can park at Ferry Nab and cross the lake on the ferry to the route starting point. Alternatively, if you’re based on the west side, park at Sawrey to start the route.

You’ll climb from Sawrey up the tracks and across Claife Heights, before descending into the village of Hawkshead. From there, you’ll climb into Grizedale Forest, where you can enjoy the forest tracks, before dripping down to the lake again.

Difficulty rating: Medium

 

Walna Scar

This route is a mountain bike trail at its finest, taking in fast single track, woodland trails, steep roads and more.

Starting in Torver, you’ll have a steep, challenging climb over the common before heading down into some woodland, where you’ll have a succession of mini trails interjected with fire roads. After heading down into Seathwaite, you’ll have a technical, fast descent, before a brutal climb up Walna Scar road.

Although you’ll need good fitness, this route isn’t too technical, and you can reward yourself with some refreshments in Torver at the end.

Difficulty rating: Medium

 

Nan Bield Pass

This route is not for the faint-hearted and is one of the more difficult rides on the list, requiring a substantial level of fitness.

However, all of this hard work is certainly well rewarded with fantastic views, technical trails, and hair-raising descents, all set amongst the beauty of the Lake District.

Beginning at Stile End, you’ll pass through Longsleddale, up to Gatescarth Pass, head down into the Haweswater Valley before a tough climb up to Nan Bield Pass.

Difficulty rating: Hard

 

Ullswater and the Boredale Valley

This route has been described as one of the most technical rides in the UK, so it’s definitely only for experienced mountain bikers.

Whilst it’s only a relatively short route, clocking in at just eight miles, there’s still plenty of time for a challenge, taking in Ullswater lake, the beautiful Boredale Valley and Birk Fell, all on a technical single-track.

You’ll need good fitness, technical skill, and buckets of nerves for this one.

Difficulty rating: Hard

 

Helvellyn and Sticks Pass

Another route for the experienced riders amongst us, this one takes in the third highest peak in the Lake District and ascends to over 3,000ft.

Beginning in the Glenridding car park, you’ll have a long climb up to the Helvellyn Ridge, along Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn, Lower Man and Raise, before finishing with a fast descent with sections of technical difficulty.

Because of the nature of this ride, it’s important to make sure you’re fully equipped and to only undertake this route in good weather conditions.

Difficulty rating: Hard

 

The North Face Trail

This 10-mile loop is made up of nine sections that can be done in full or in part, all located on the west side of Grizedale Forest.

You’ll have to negotiate single track descents, climb challenging hills, and navigate across numerous tricky boardwalks, all set within beautiful oak woodlands and conifer forest. Starting from the visitor centre, you can easily follow this well-marked trail.

All of the trail is suited to experienced bikers, with an added black trail which is only suitable for expert mountain bikers.

Difficulty rating: Medium/Hard

 

If you’re planning on heading to the Lakes for some top MTB, why not check out some of our Lake District holiday parks?

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