Askham & Ullwater Shore
Stats: : 22.6 miles and 3240 feet of ascent
Only in Askham and Patterdale.
A demanding yet incredibly rewarding outing in the far Northeast of the district, taking in the dazzling descent from The Cockpit to Howtown, the surprisingly gnarly traverse of Silver Point and a beautiful drop down the side of Beda Fell into Martindale.
Start and Finish: Assuming you’re arriving by car, there’s a free car park on the right, fifty-or-so metres north of Askham cross-roads.
1. From the cross-roads by Askham stores, take the gently climbing road heading towards the hills.
2. Where the road becomes a track and veers left, keep straight ahead, hugging the stone wall.
3. When you come to an isolated stand of trees at the top of the climb, there’s a confusing array of tracks leading off in most, if not all, directions. The one you want drops a little to a stone circle, then sets off on a traverse under the craggy skyline of Arthur’s Pike and above the woods of Barton Park.
4. Once you’re established on this track, there’s no losing it. An it’s insanely enjoyable, with mile after mile of steady drop into the enticing trench of Ullswater.
5. When you get to the first substantive house, stay on the traversing platform and only drop off it when you get to the Outdoor Education Centre (which may well have a minibus outside). Go through the courtyard on foot, as requested on the sign.
6. Take the bridleway on the left from the driveway of the OEC. Cross Fusedale Beck at the stone bridge or brave the ford. Cross the concrete farm track and head up a short, steep, grassy pull to a good track slowly gaining the hause. Go round to the right, behind St Peter’s Church and join the road where you turn left.
7. Not long after crossing Howegrain Beck, bear right onto a byway (not marked as such but marked “Highgate”) Through the farmyard and down a rooty, overgrown track. Bear right at the gate at the bottom and rejoin the tarmac road.
8. Head down towards the lake and head left on the clear bridleway. You won’t get lost on this section but you’ll be amazed how much up-and-down is concentrated into what looks on the map to be a shoreline traverse.
9. When you get to Side Farm, avoid the temptation to head straight up from here to Boredale Hause – it’s too steep and steppy to be rideable.
10. Head down the lane into Patterdale, recharge your glycogen and head south on the Kirkstone Road to Deepdale Bridge.
11. Turn left across the floodplain, then zigzag RL to gain the obvious diagonal track leading to Boredale Hause. Trust me, it’s not as steep, and much less steppy than the northern alternative we avoided earlier.
12. At the Hause, there is an embarrassment of paths leading off. We want the one sketchilly heading SW across marshy ground to reach another diagonal, this time heading up and to the left, over the ridge of Beda Fell.
13. Now comes the most glorious slant of singletrack anywhere, dropping off the other side of the ridge into Martindale. Try your damnedest not to carve it because it really is a gem.
14. Head back, past St Martin’s Church and up to St Peter’s, then reverse the start of the ride.