Stats: 12 miles and 1270 feet of ascent
Start and Finish: Kendal Town Centre if you want refreshments, or there’s a layby at SD507905 if you want easy parking and are confident of being back within two hours. The layby option has the additional advantage of a level warmup before the road climb up Underbarrow Road.
Lots in Kendal. The Brewery Arts Centre is an excellent venue. The route passes the Punchbowl in Underbarrow and the Wheatsheaf in Brigsteer.
A sublime delight on a late summer’s night, the hedgerows dripping with brambles. A good proportion of the ride is in narrow, sunken drove roads, which would make good shelter in wild weather. Much of the surface is firm and stony, despite the squelchy-sounding name. This would make a good ride for youngsters, a parting shot retreating from poor weather on the high fells or, as I found it, an exquisite evening spin.
1. Heave out of Kendal on Gillingsgate from Lakeland Fireplaces to the Underbarrow Road.
2. Turn left on this and climb some more, past Greenside Lime Kiln. Just after the bridge over the dual carriageway, there’s the house of Sylvan Wood with its Monkey Puzzle Tree, offering massages for weary cyclists. Don’t worry: the climbing is largely done as we fork right here onto Gamblesmire Lane.
3. Keep going in a broadly straight line, passing another lime kiln on entertainingly rocky ground. Drop into a wood then climb briefly until you reach the tarmac.
4. Turn right, over a cattle-grid, passing the gates of “Knott” on your left to leave the tarmac, going straight ahead onto another narrow drove lane between hedges.
5. At the junction of bridleways, go right. Believe me; you do not want to miss the anticlockwise loop round Bell Hill. Go down to the ford (footbridge available for the hydrophobic) and continue north up a series of challenging rocky steps..
6. Turn left (signed to Lindreth Brow) and swoop round the back of Bell Hill. There are a few junctions here (another track swoops in from your right in a big U-shaped curve) but bear left past the house of Lindreth Brow itself. Just south of this, you reach a gate with a fork of bridleways.
7. Head right on sketchy terrain across the field. There may be a small stretch of water on your right. See photo.
8. The way soon descends into the delightful Chapel Lane – more gorgeous, walled singletrack. This drops to the church at Underbarrow.
9. Head through the village, dinking right-left at the Punchbowl, following signs to Brigsteer.
10. Keep going, with Scout Scar’s limestone escarpment soaring above you on the left and the flats of the lower Lyth Valley spread out on your right.
11. In Brigsteer, bear left up the diagonal bank from the Wheatsheaf. Climb as far as the house on the right with stone pillars stepped like ziggurats and, looking back downhill, the “Brigsteer. Please Drive Slowly” sign. Turn right onto a good bridleway contouring below Burnbarrow Scar.
12. When you reach a sign in an open field just under the power lines, veer left up a short grassy slope (in fact, you’ll slightly double back on yourself) to the tiny church of St John’s at Helsington.
13. Get onto the bridleway passing to the left of the bunkhouse, signed to Briggs House. Keep to the wall on your right.
14. At Briggs House, go briefly down the tarmac road to where it veers sharply right, and go left through the farmyard of Low House Farm. Zigzag on concrete farm road and drop onto another drove road zagging down to Shenstone and trundle into Kendal on the A6.