The Lake District is a National Park, offering high mountains and fells, and some wooded areas in the valleys, with a predominately rocky surface for riding. With a huge amount of riding available in The Lake District, we’ve split the ride guides up into approximate areas.
Due to the mountainous areas and high fells, and with weather that changes quickly. It’s advisable to ride with a few extra bits of kit, for any possible issues with bikes or riders. This means a first aid kit, emergency blanket and an extra layer at least.
We start off a few selected routes in the South Lakes and Central Lakes are. This is by no means the full lot, but it's just enough to get started; they’ll be more to follow!
Ambleside - Out and Back
Level: Intermediate to Experienced.
The Ambleside Out and Back loop has plenty of varied riding, with higher, rockier parts, traversing downhills, and varied surfaces. There are shorter bits of road to link sections which allows you to get the most of your climbing done at the start when you go over Loughrigg. From there, you can head up and over Iron Keld.
off-road-cc-trail-guide-lake-district-ambleside.jpg, by Jim Clarkson
If there's a good mix of riders in your group, this loop is ideal as you have the option to shorten or lengthen it to suit. There are two cafes to stop at on the route - Chester's at Skelwith Bridge, after coming over Loughrigg, and then in Elterwater about halfway round - pub and a cafe in the village. There is also often cake for sale at the farm on the climb from Little Langdale.
off-road-cc-trail-guide-lake-district-ambleside-2.jpg, by Jim Clarkson
This packs in a surprisingly decent amount of climbing, but most of it is on firewood or lanes. You will be rewarded with lots of great downhills, and it's rideable all year round, but in summer, be prepared for some crowded parts - to avoid this, ride mid-week or early or late in the day.
You can start the ride in Ambleside - which has plenty of options for food, two bike shops, and outdoor shops. There are also several options for starting the ride at various points around the loop, where it crosses main roads.
Staveley Loops, Kentmere Valley
off-road-cc-trail-guide-lake-district-kentmere-1.jpeg, by Jim Clarkson
The Kentmere Valley has a network of bridleways that weave throughout, with routes that link into old Roman roads - don't think for a second they'll be any proper roads; this is good rocky riding terrain! With a myriad of options, Staveley offers parking, a bike shop, two cafes, a brewery, a bakery, and an ice cream shop for pre and post-ride needs. There's riding for beginners to big mountain peaks and passes; here are three rides to get you started in the Southern Lakes.
Parking: The Mill Yard, Staveley or around the village - please park considerately on narrow lanes and don’t park in passing places.
Food: More? Bakery for pre and post-ride snacks and food, with pizza available at times, Mr Duffins for coffee, Hawkshead Brewery for after-ride drinks, and Wilfs Cafe for cafe food. There is also Kimmis gelato/ice-cream shop, plus two village shops on the main street.
Bike shop: Wheelbase, Mill Yard - large, bike shop and Bike Treks up the road in Ings, by the petrol station.
Beginners loop - Staveley Easy/Intermediate Loop
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
A shorter ride, with all the climbing at the start, parking is the only issue, especially on weekends.
You can make this loop a little longer if you ride from the village. This loop is passable in the dry and on a gravel bike; just be prepared to brave three river crossings (they all have crossing stones). The route is a classic format - It’s a climb, mostly on the road, then a mixed terrain traverse of field and singletrack, followed by a downhill with several river crossings. It packs in good views, pretty relaxed descents, with plenty of good rest stops and places to play if you have kids with you.
Intermediate loop - Kentmere Valley Tour
Level: Beginner to Intermediate
Using the same first part of the Beginners Loop (above), this route carries on up and around the Kentmere valley. You'll be rewarded with fun, longer descents, some more challenging climbs and fantastic views across the valley on a clear day. There is one more demanding and technical descent on this ride, with caution advised for drops and larger, looser boulder fields. This route is flexible, extending or reducing with some map planning.
Experienced Loop - Gatescarth & Nan Bield Pass
Level: Advanced & experienced
This is a big day out, despite it seeming close to Staveley. You quickly become remote and a long way from the start. The loop takes you over two passes; the first one is just about rideable if you are fit and lucky. The second pass involves a longer climb, which means carrying or pushing your bike. However, you will be rewarded with some of the best downhill technical singletrack in the country.
off-road-cc-trail-guide-lake-district-kentmere.jpeg, by Jim Clarkson
It is a route for experienced riders and has several demanding technical descents. The views and trails are the rewards - and it’s best ridden in late Spring to Autumn, but you should still check the weather before you leave. There is no way to cut the route short, so once committed to past halfway, you are in for the route. Ideally, it’s been dry for the day before, as there are parts with a lot of surface water.
Don't forget you can check out all these routes and plenty more on the offroadcc Komoot page!