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 riding is rocky, so the route is pretty weather proof. The climbing is a lot less arduous than most of the Lake District routes as the height of the Fells in this area is not too great. That doesn't mean the descents aren't any good, there are some great ones.
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 stone bridge then turn immediately right down a small lane at the following junction. Follow the lane beside the stream. Just after passing a stone bridge on the right go around the left hand bend ahead and over a cattle grid to a junction with the next lane on the left (GR370045).
2. Turn left at the junction, go over another cattle grid and climb the steep thin lane. Follow the lane through a tight left then right hand bend at Brow Head Farm. Continue climbing along the now broken track that becomes rockier the higher it climbs. Stay on the wide rocky track and climb through a few gates to the top. Continue straight on over the plateau and head towards the left hand side of Loughrigg Fell. The trail then descends steeply through a couple of bends to a stream crossing (GR356043). Bear left up a short climb after the stream 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 the forked junction on the right hand bend take the left hand track, still keeping the wall on the left. Continue along the rocky track and go through the gate at the trees for the final steep section to a junction at the bottom (GR347041).
3. At the junction go straight on along the lane and bear 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 the junction with the main road at Skelwith Bridge (GR344035). Go straight ahead, along the main road, and cross the bridge. 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). Climb the left hand lane, signed to Skelwith Fold, to a junction in the village at the top. Turn right and follow the lane as it undulates across the top of the hill, going past junctions on either side. Eventually descend the lane to a left hand bend with a gated junction straight on, leading on to a track climbing into the trees signposted as a bridleway to Sunny Brow (GR346016).
4. Go through the gate and climb the steep track through the trees then, at the top, follow the singletrack with the wall on the left. The track soon comes to a signposted three-way junction (GR344008). Turn right and follow the sign for Iron Keld to climb a steep rocky track. While the climb is doable most will have to push at some point. The climb bears right before flattening out and bearing left to a gate. Go through the gate and on to the following junction. Bear left and descend the 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 the drystone wall before coming to a junction. Go stright on for a short climb 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 wide 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 drop down a loose rocky descent to a gate at the old quarry. Go straight on down more loose rocks to a junction with a lane at the houses (GR317019).
7. Turn left then bear right between the houses. On the following left hand bend drop down a gravely track to a gate on the right. Go through the gate and descend the wide rocky 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 give way to some nice hardpack before climbing to a junction (GR313020). Turn left and climb up the right hand side of the valley. Keep going straight on up the climb, then after the crest drop right 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 of before it turns left and kicks up for the first of two very difficult sections. There may be some pushing but it doesn’t make up much of the overall climb, and there is some distance between them. After the second big rock section the track comes to the top of the climb. Continue along the track for a wide loose, rocky descent that eventually drops left over a large section of bedrock, before coming to a gate. After the gate and continue descending the track a junction (GR307027). Turn left and descend to the next junction a short distance later. Take the right hand track and continue descening. At the bottom of the descent follow the track right around the 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 just after the start of a descent. 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 off to the right go straight on between the pub and the shop to a junction at the other side (GR329050).
10. Go straight across the main road and climb the lane on the other side through a 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 across the road and descend the track. At the next junction bear right and continue descending to a gate. After the gate ride over the rocks and turn left over the little bridge. Taking care of the many walkers, follow the track that descends across Loughrigg Terr all the way to the junction at the woods (GR348060). Turn right and follow the track down through a couple of tight rocky turns. The track then flattens off and runs along the edge of Rydal Water. The track eventually comes to a boulder, right at the waters edge. It is possible to ride onto the rock but the far side requires a short scramble, or you can go round it through the water. Once on the other side of the rock continue along the track 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 past the car park to a junction at the end of the lane (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 , over the stone bridge, then on the other side follow the one-way system to the left. Get in the right hand lane and turn right at the next junction. After turning right follow the main road all the way back to the Waterhead car park to complete the ride.