Tour of Skiddaw
Stats: 19 miles & 2988 feet of ascent
Parking is available at the Old Railway Station at Keswick, with ample places to eat in the town. Accommodation is also wide and varied, with a great Youth Hostel being a good familychoice, as well as the nearby Derwentwater Independent Hostel, run by old colleagues Dave and Kathy – my own choice.
Prior to the floods of 2015 we would have taken you along the old railway cycle route to Threlkeld. Due to the bridge being taken in the floods we’ve re-assessed things and taken a steady road and track climb on the other side of the river, dropping into Threlkeld before the BW climbing really begins. The track then climbs steeply before descending at speed, with a tricky ascent across the valley to join a great testy little track around the edge of Lonscale Fell. From here you climb, before a superb long descent towards Bassenthwaite across open fells as you skirt the mass of Skiddaw, then returning towards Keswick, before a detour climb leads to the epic descent down Latrigg for a great route in to Keswick – test your brakes before setting off, as it’s a classic.
1. From the car park at Keswick Liesure Centre and the Old Railway Station head onto Brundholme Road. Then turn right up the lane signed ‘Windebrow’ and ‘Brundhilme’. Climb steadily, crossing a bridge over the A591, then into tree cover as the lane steepens. This eventually comes out by white-washed farm buildings, where you turn right and drop to Threlkeld.
2. At the next road junction turn left and ride into Threlkeld, now warmed up and ready for the fellside. Turn left at Blease Road, signed to ”Bleanchtra’ and begin some steep ascending. Crossing a cattle grid, the road gives way to track and the fun begins. This track climbs steadily, with a drop or two along the way, before a final sting in the tail – a steep and technical ascent to the bridleway around Lonscale Fell.
3. Once climbed, you now need to decide: ‘do I ride the full tour of Skiddaw and turn right, or do I turn left and have some shorter fun back to Keswick.’
We’d suggest the longer route, taking in Skiddaw, so turn right and follow the track to Skiddaw House.
4. From Skiddaw House follow the service track that runs across the flanks of Great Calva and Little Calva easily to a ford and footbridge. The track climbs steadily for 800m until a beck is crossed, and then descends, giving 800m freewheeling to a hairpin bend and bridge. Downstream of the bridge in a gorge is the Whitewater Dash waterfall, well worth a look especially after heavy rainfall.
5. The track continues to descend steeply at first, and can clearly be seen contouring below the spectacular Dead Crags, which drop abruptly from Bakestall. Exciting riding leads to the road at Peter House Farm; turn left and follow it 3.2km through Melbecks and join the A591. Head towards Keswick for 4.8km and then take the Millbeck and Applethwaite road which after another 4.8km and a steep road climb leads back to the car park at Latrigg.
6. From the back of the car park (gate with sign warning cyclists about cross track gutters) join the Latrigg Bridleway and follow its twisting course to cross over the A66 (bridge). This section of the route can be busy with walkers so take care. Join the road at Briar Rigg and follow it to a sharp bend by the swimming pool.