Lake District Mountain Bike Route Guide
Ambleside, Southern Lake District
(For Experienced Riders)
OS Landranger 90
Route Text Download:
GPX and KML
(available via the full MapMyRide page for this route, on the right hand side of the page)
This mountain bike route of 19.3 miles starts from Waterhead, just south of Ambleside, in the Lake District. It circles Loughrigg Fell and also takes in Black Fell and Little Langdale. The climbing is less arduous than most Lake District routes as the Fells in this area are lower than those to the north. That doesn't mean the descents aren't any good, there are some superb ones, especially the one Iron Keld. The riding is rocky, so the trails are pretty weather proof, and being surrounded by higher peaks means the route is fairly well sheltered in bad weather too.
1. Start from the Waterhead car park by the Regent Hotel (GR367033). Turn right out of the car park and head towards Ambleside. Follow the main road through a long right hand bend then turn left at the junction signed for Coniston and the A593 (GR373038). After bearing right turn left at the next junction, again signed to Coniston. Cross the small stone bridge then at the junction immediately after turn right down a small lane (GR371039). Follow the lane beside the river. Just after passing a stone bridge on the right follow the lane left and over a cattle grid to a junction with the next lane on the left (GR370045).
2. Turn left and go over another cattle grid then climb the steep lane. After a while follow the lane through a tight left then right hand bend at Brow Head Farm. Continue climbing the lane ahead, going through the gates on the way up. Near the top the lane becomes a rocky double track. Continue following the double track ahead over the top of the hill, heading towards the left hand side of Loughrigg Fell. The trail then descends steeply through a couple of bends to a stream crossing (GR356043). After the stream bear left up a short climb then follow the track straight on and descend across the flank of Loughrigg Fell, on the right. The track soon follows the line of a drystone wall on the left. Follow the wall and bear right around the Fell. At a forked junction take the left hand track to stay by the wall on the left. Continue descending the singletrack for a while to gate at the trees. Go through the gate for a steep, loose and rocky section that ends at a junction by some cottages (GR347041).
3. Go straight ahead on the lane that bears right around the cottages on the right. After the cottages turn left and descend to a triangular junction. Turn right and ride a short way to the next junction. Turn left and descend the steep lane down to a junction with the main road, on the left, at Skelwith Bridge (GR344035). Turn right onto the main road and cross the bridge over the river. At the junction directly after the bridge, where the main road turns right, go straight on up the lane. Climb the lane through a left hand bend to a junction (GR348029). Turn right and climb the lane to the next junction. Turn left and continue climbing to a small triangular junction (GR348023). Turn right and follow the lane until it eventually descends to a junction on a left hand bend with a gated track straight on that climbs into the trees, signposted as a bridleway to Sunny Brow (GR346016).
4. Go through the gate and climb the steep track through the trees. At the top keep to the wall on the left and follow the singletrack ahead. Follow the track to the second junction with a track climbing off to the right, at the signpost (GR344008). Turn right, following the sign for Iron Keld, and climb a steep, rocky singletrack. While the climb is just about doable most will have to push at some point. After a while the climb bears right before flattening off. After going through a stream crossing the trail kicks up again. Continue climbing, going through a gate on the way up, until the track bears left to a junction at the top. Bear left and descend the wide track to a gate (GR337004).
5. Go through the gate and turn right then follow the wide track to the next gate a short distance later on the right, signposted to Black Crag and Arnside (GR336005). Climb the rocky track up the left flank of Iron Keld. After a left hand bend go straight on through the gate to start a great descent of about 1.5 miles. Follow the trail as it flows down the fell and over some nice rock sections. About halfway down, by a house on the left, the trail goes through a gap in a drystone wall before coming to a junction. Go straight on up the short climb, past the track descending to the left, then continue straight ahead down the rest of the descent. Keep to the obvious trail that eventually finishes at a gate at the A593 (GR335029).
6. Turn left and climb the road. Go past the junction on the right leading to Colwith and continue climbing the main road, with the woods now on the right. At the top of the woods where the road flattens off, directly after a blind left hand bend, there is a junction with a lane on the right (GR329022). Turn right onto this lane, then directly after go straight on at the four-way junction. Climb the steep lane to the next junction (GR326019). Turn right and follow the lane through a couple of bends and past a stone barn on the right. At the end of the lane go between the farm buildings and through a gate to leave the tarmac behind. Climb the wide hardpack trail through a number of bends and over some interesting rock features. After the climb descend the rocky track ahead to a gate by the old quarry. Go through the gate and straight on down the track to where it ends at a junction with a lane at the houses (GR317019).
7. Turn left then bear right between the houses. On the following left hand bend descend the gravely track to a gate on the right. Go through the gate and descend the rocky double track through a couple of bends to a three-way junction (GR315018). Take the middle, slate strewn track descending into a gully. The slate soon gives way to a hardpack double track before climbing to a junction (GR313020). Turn left and climb up the right hand side of the valley. After some time go over the crest of the climb then descend to a gate at a farm (GR308014).
8. Immediately after entering the farm turn hard right and go through the gate leading to a steep, rocky climb. The climb soon flattens off a bit and bears left before it kicks up again for a steep section of loose rocks. At the top follow the track straight on as it descends through a long shallow dip. Climb right then left out of the dip to a second section of steep, rocky climbing to the top. Continue ahead on the track for a fast, loose and rocky descent that eventually drops left over a large slab of bedrock, before coming to a gate. After the gate continue descending the track over some big rocks to a junction (GR307027). Turn left and descend to the next junction a short distance later. Take the right hand double track and continue descending. At the bottom of the descent follow the track right around a white house then over two small bridges to a junction with a lane (GR300032).
9. Turn right and follow the lane along the left hand side of the valley. At the end of Little Langdale Tarn, on the right, the lane kicks up and climbs through a number of bends. At the junction on the crest of the climb turn left (GR314034). Follow the lane up past a farm and on to a gate. Go through the gate and keep to the hardpack track. The track eventually comes to a gate at the trees just after it starts descending. After the gate go straight on, past a track on the left, and descend the loose rocks. At the end of the rocks follow the tarmac straight on all the way down to a junction with a lane at the bottom (GR327045). Turn left and ride past the YHA, then go over the river to the junction in the centre of Elterwater. Where the lane turns right go straight on between the pub and the shop to a junction at the other side of the village (GR329050).
10. Go straight across the main road then climb the lane on the other side through a left, right then left hand bend to a junction (GR331052). Turn right and continue climbing the tarmac. At the top of the climb follow the lane left and go past the High Close YHA then descend to a junction with a lane and a trail (GR340054).
11. Go straight on, across the lane, to the gate at the start of the track on the opposite side. From here on be careful of walkers as this is a very popular area for day trippers. Go through the gate and descend to the next junction then bear right and continue descending to a gate. After the gate ride over the rocks and turn left over the little bridge then follow the track as it descends across Loughrigg Terr all the way to the junction at the woods (GR348060). Turn right and follow the track down through a few steep turns. The track then flattens off a bit before coming to the edge of Rydal Water. Continue ahead on the track by the lake until it comes to a junction (GR359060).
12. Take the right hand track and climb a short way to the top. At the top go straight on through the gate and descend the lane. Go past a car park at the bottom to where the lane ends at a junction, there is often an ice cream van here (GR366059). Turn right and follow the lane for around two miles to the previously visited junction with the A593 on the edge of Ambleside (GR371039). Turn left and go over the small stone bridge then on the other side follow the one-way system left. Get in the right hand lane then turn right to the next junction. Turn right and follow the main road all the way back to the Waterhead car park to complete the ride.