Stats: 19 miles and 2,300 feet of ascent
Lots of potential. Ambleside includes Lucy’s, the Apple Pie and Zeffirelli’s. There’s also Chesters by the River at Skelwith Bridge and the Mortal Man (a bit off route) at Troutbeck. The Outgate Inn is well worth a look.
A superb double-loop around Ambeside’s environs. As every mathematician knows, the beauty of eight is that it can easily be halved so, if you’re short of time or breath, either of these loops would be a pleasant outing. Don’t be deterred by the stretches of roadwork – they are either on quiet lanes (e.g. Holbeck Lane) or Cumbria County Council has thoughtfully provided cycleways (eg the stretch of B5286 from Brathay to Angle Wood).
1. Head out of Ambleside on the A593 following signs to Coniston. There’s a footpath-cum-cycleway on the left.
2. At Clappersgate, branch left to Hawkshead, swooping over the River Brathay and rising steadily to the fork left at Angle Wood (signposted to Wray & Wray Castle)
3. Easily-missed. There’s a bridleway (signposted to Outgate) on the right (ornate gate) where the road bends to the left. If you get to the beck, where the turn to the campsite is, you’ve gone too far)
4. Follow the delightful singletrack alongside the seldom-seen Blelham Tarn, with interest.
5. At Outgate, turn left past the inn. After a mile or so, take the right turn (so long as your handlebars are less than 6’6″ wide) to Knipe Fold.
6. Turn left at Knipe Fold, then immediately hard right on the byway to Oxen Fell.
7. Turn right in the woods and break out into a fantastic view over the Brathay scene. Undulate broadly northwards, finishing in a fast descent (but note the signs asking riders to keep to the track and not carve up the grass)
8. Turn right at the road and swoop down to Skelwith Bridge, taking the slight detour of the byway on the right.
9. Climb on tarmac past Neaum Crag campsite to turn right to Ellers Brow, then pick up the great bridleway skirting the southern slopes of Loughrigg Fell. This culminates in a fast descent to Under Loughrigg road (turn right at the bottom then left over the packhorse bridge) to return to Ambleside.
10. Still got some zing? Good. Trundle south on the A591 as far as the Brockhole visitor centre. There’s cycleway for most of the way and the views over the lake are justly celebrated.
11. Easy to miss. Turn left up Mirk Lane at a bus shelter. Climb past a horsey house with good signage, up a scrabbly lane to join Holbeck Lane and tarmac.
12. Turn right at the top and then soon branch right again down a narrow bridleway. Go down to a wooded dell and up steep grassy slopes beyond to the main Troutbeck road (A592).
13. Turn left and descend to the church. Turn left just after the chuchyard onto a stone-based bridleway.
14. At the top, turn left then right at the Post Office. Climb up Robin Lane, branching left at a double gate after a mile or so. The view from this balcony are superb.
15. Drop on singletrack to a bridge, then climb to the right to the farm.
16. The descent through the woods to Ambleside is a fitting end to a fine excursion.