Lake District

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Introduction

This route was written by Tony Keates and describes what looks to be a superb three-day trip across the Lake District from east to west...
 

Shap to Ravenglass

The route was originally ridden over 3 days of the Whitsun Bank Holiday, covering about 20 miles per day, with overnight stops in the Ambleside area and Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley, but it could be ridden in 2 days, with an overnight stop in the Coniston area.

The Route.

Distance:- 60 miles (offroad 50 miles, road 10 miles).

Start point:- the Wet Sleddale road on the A6, 1 mile south of Shap village
Grid Ref NY 5675 1285

Finish:- Ravenglass village on the west coast
Grid Ref SD 0840 9620

Maps:- OS Outdoor Leisure 1:25000
Sheet 5 - The English Lakes, North Eastern area
Sheet 6 - The English Lakes, South Western area
Sheet 7 - The English Lakes, South Eastern area

Day 1 - Shap to Ambleside

Take the Wet Sleddale road, past the reservoir and pick up the bridleway below Stackhouse Brow, which is followed through Mosedale, past Mosedale Cottage, to the head of Longsleddale. The descents to the bridge over Mosedale Beck and down to Longsleddale are steep and rocky and the bridleway is somewhat indistinct on the ground in places.

From the head of Longsleddale, follow the old Wren Gill quarry track (rough at first) down to the packhorse bridge at Sadgill (a good place for lunch). Cross the bridge and follow the bridleway over Stile End down to Kentmere village. This is a steep, rough climb followed by a fast downhill run and brings you to the start of the roughest stretch of the day - over the Garburn Road, an old coach route, to Troutbeck.

The Garburn Road starts just past the church in Kentmere village and is just about rideable initially, although the latter part will probably have you off the bike and pushing, but once over the summit the descent, though very rough in places, is rideable with care. After passing an old quarry on the left of the track, take the right fork, which brings you to Limefitt Park, a caravan holiday park. Go through the caravan park and turn right on to the main road, then left after about 200 metres on to the bridleway by Troutbeck church.

Follow the bridleway until it joins a metalled road, turn left, then take the right fork and join the bridleway, which will take you to Ambleside via Skelghyll Wood and Jenkins Crag. This is an easy, well-marked bridleway, which climbs high above Lake Windermere, with superb views over the lake, and gives some interesting riding on the descent through Skelghyll Wood.

Day 2 - Ambleside to Seathwaite

From Ambleside, take the Underloughrigg road, and just past a cattlegrid, turn left on to the bridleway over Loughrigg Fell. This is an old packhorse route and after an initial climb, gives easy riding, before joining a minor road. Turn right on to the road and follow it past Loughrigg Tarn until it joins the B5343. Turn right on to the B5343 then take the next left which brings you into Elterwater village. Excellent pub on the village green! (The Royal Oak)

From Elterwater, cross the bridge over the river and take the first lane on the right (signposted Elterwater Hall). When the metalled road bears to the right, go straight on up a steep, loose climb, which is just about rideable, before it levels out and gives easy riding down to Little Langdale. On reaching the road, turn left and then right down a lane, which leads to a wide ford across the River Brathay. This is rideable with determination and low water, but there is a footbridge for the more faint-heartedl Once across the river, follow the easy track below the Moss Rigg Quarry spoil heaps, past Tilberthwaite Gill to the Ambleside - Coniston road. This section gives enjoyable riding with lots of "dips and bumps" just off the track for entertainment. Turn right on to the road and follow it to Coniston village. Once through the village take the road on the right signposted Walna Scar Road.

This is a steep climb over Dixon Ground before the road ends at a gate on to the fell. This is the start of the Walna Scar Road, fast becoming a mountain bike classic. Go through the gate and follow the track, easy at first but becoming rougher and steeper as it climbs to the summit. Only the strongest will ride it in its entirety. From the summit, it is all downhill, though still steep and rocky in places, to Seathwaite Bridge in the Duddon Valley.

Day 3 - Seathwaite to Ravenglass

From Seathwaite Bridge, follow the road northwest, then take the bridleway on the left. This leads down to stepping stones across the River Duddon. Cross the river and climb up through Grassguards Wood towards the lower slopes of Harter Fell. The stretch up through the wood is extremely rough, with numerous large boulders and tree roots to trap the unwary, but the view over Eskdale as you emerge from the wood is well worth the effort! The run down to the foot of the Hardknott Pass is superb - along a beautifully graded track with a smooth grassy surface for most of the way.

Turn left on to the road and follow it to Wha House Bridge then take the bridleway on the left. This follows the south bank of the River Esk as far as Forge Bridge, where it rejoins the road. Turn right on to the road as far as Eskdale Green, before picking up another bridleway on the left just before Eskdale Green Station. Although vague on the ground in places, this leads around the base of Muncaster Fell and eventually joins a forest road. Follow the forest road - fast easy riding at first but with a sting in the tail! Just past High Eskholme, the road forks - take the right fork which climbs very steeply through the woods at an average gradient of 1 in 5, 1 in 3 in the steepest parts, before easing and becoming a delightful hard-packed sandy track. This gives a superb descent to the main road.

All that, remains now is to turn right on to the road and follow it into Ravenglass village and the end of the ride - and may the pub be open when you arrive!
 

Tony Keates

 

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