This route is one for the mountain bikers and as such you can expect the terrain to be somewhat more difficult to navigate than the open road. You also know to expect hills when you’re in the Lakes so do prepare for a lot of climbs on any cycle you go on. This route typifies a great Lake District ride starting out with a climb on tarmac towards the off-road tracks that take you across Claife Heights. From there you will descend quite sweepingly on hard packed and well drained tracks towards Hawkshead which offers a great place for a good break. From Hawkshead your route heads up into Grizedale taking in the North Face Trail before finally dropping down to Lake Windermere.
We recommend leaving your car at our Windermere Guest House and heading to the ferry to cross Lake Windermere on your bikes. It’s not far from our Windermere Guest House and this way you will save a lot of money and time rather than waiting in the traffic to cross with your car.
Once you’ve crossed the lake and taken in the wonderful views as you do so, get your helmet on and head along the road towards Sawrey. You’re immediately twisting, turning and climbing so don’t say we didn’t warn you! Just before you get to Sawrey Hotel, you will reach a bridleway on the right and if you take this you will follow a slate track pass the Sawrey Institute and up towards our destination of Claife Heights.
Eventually you will come to woodland where you will start your first significant descend at speed. The track is rocky so do take care, we don’t want you returning to our Windermere Guest House with any broken bones or dislocated joints! You will come to the lake shore and if you follow the track along this shore you will come to another bridleway on your left that takes you back up the the heights of Belle Grange.
The bridleway is cobbled and develops into rocky steps on steep ground which can be difficult to negotiate. Nevertheless keep on going and cross over two other closely located bridleways for another fast paced descent. With a good balance and line choice you will hit high speeds as you head all the way down towards Hawkshead.
Hawkshead’s a great place to stop for a bite to eat or just a drink from a great selection of eateries, pubs and cafes. Once you’ve got your breath back and filled up your bellies, cycle up through the village passing the Kings Arms and Minstrels Gallery Tea Rooms on your left. Head under the arch and up towards the bridleway leads you to Grizedale Forest. This track is steep but well surfaced, getting you up into the forest quickly to join the North Face Trail. This trail is found roughly ¼ mile upwards into the forest on your left. Follow this trail until you come to Moor Top car park.
From the car park take the tarmac road through the forest until you see signs that lead you into the forest again to the left. Keep right at the first forking and follow this for some distance as it weaves through the trees. When you come to the next junction take a left and as the track curves around, a bridleway sign leads you onto some great off-piste, which weaves through the trees and speeds you downhill again.
Exiting onto tarmac turn right and cycle along the singletrack road before picking up the bridleway off to the left and heading down once more through trees. From here you will join a good tarmac road, turn right, pass the junction to the left, before taking a final bridleway at the edge on your left which leads down towards Cunsey. Follow the lakeshore north and you will arrive back at the ferry which will take you back across the lake to your Windermere Guest House.