Distance: 27.8km (17.3 miles)
Total climb: 1,230m (4,035ft)
Time: 3 to 5hrs
While the Lake District is full of high, remote, technical riding, this low-level route is suitable for a wider range of rider abilities and conditions.
Rydal Road car park, Ambleside (grid ref NT 378/047, postcode LA22 9AG)
Ambleside is at the northern tip of Lake Windermere, on the A591. From the south, exit the M6 at junction 36, head towards Windermere and then continue to Ambleside. The Rydal Road car park is the main one at the north of the town, on the left by the Bike Treks shop.
The Apple Pie Cafe & Bakery also has good accommodation (www.applepieambleside.co.uk, 015394 33678). If you’re on a tight budget, try Low Wray campsite (01539 432733) or Ambleside Backpackers (www.amblesidehostel.co.uk, 01539 432340). For other options, call the Tourist Information Centre on 01539 432582. Call into Bike Treks for spares or repairs (www.bike-treks.co.uk, 01539 431245). There’s a pub en-route in Chapel Stile, the Wainwrights’ Inn (01539 438088).
Maps and useful books
Ordnance Survey Landranger 90: Penrith & Keswick
Mountain Biking in the Lake District by Ian Boydon (Cicerone)
Go left out of the car park, then take the first road on the left (Stoney Lane). Join the path at the end and cross the footbridge. Turn right and then immediately left, on a steep bridleway, uphill. Past Brow Head Farm, keep ahead on a rocky bridleway, uphill. Then go down to a fork at Ivy Crag.
Bear right on some singletrack, downhill to a track. Keep ahead to a road. Go right, then immediately left. Keep right on the road to the crossroads with the A593. Go ahead on this, over Skelworth Bridge, then bear off to the left on a minor road. Keep left at the fork by a (raised) house. Go right at the next fork, signposted to Hawkshead.
Keep left at the next junction, then go right on Bog Lane for 0.7km. When it turns left, keep ahead on a bridleway. Look out for a permissive bridleway bearing off up to the right after 0.8km and follow it into Iron Keld Plantation. Keep right at the T-junction, go through a gate and join a bridleway that heads right, out into the open.
Follow this great descent all the way to the main road. Turn left on the road and follow it back uphill. Turn right on a road at the top, then shortly afterwards turn right on a permissive bridleway back downhill. Turn left on the gravel track at the bottom. Follow this to a road and go right on it.
Keep to the left, following a byway uphill to Hodge Close. Go right on a track opposite the last cottage, through a gate. Go right (north) at the fork just past Pierce How Beck, to a track crossing. Keep ahead, over a bridge, to Little Langdale.
Turn left on the road, then shortly afterwards right. Follow this track past Dale End Farm, downhill. Go through a gate, then left on a bridleway, uphill. Drop downhill, go over a track (right then left) and through the quarry, following the signposts. Cross the bridge and turn left on the road. Shortly afterwards turn right and keep right, uphill.
Follow this road for quite a way. After passing the youth hostel go left at the T-junction, then right on the bridleway – which is popular with walkers. At the far end by the trees turn right (beware of the drop-off, if taking the first track).
Pass the caves and descend to and go right on a quiet road. When you reach the footbridge you crossed at the start, go left back to Ambleside.
Follow Mountain Biking UK on BikeRadar, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
Subscribe to our Android edition on Google Play
Subscribe to our iPhone/iPad edition on Apple Newsstand
Subscribe to our print edition
Routes produced in association with Rough Ride Guide
MBUK Big Ride images by Russell Burton