Stats: 23 miles and 2706 feet of ascent
Rather than waiting for an age to cross on the ferry by car, we suggest parking at Windermere and cycling down and across. It’s a lot cheaper this way, and will save you up to an hour each way in summer. Windermere has loads of facilities. Hawkshead has some lovely tea shops and cafes, and a few pubs if that takes your fancy. Grizedale visitor centre is also a good place to get a bite to eat and a drink.
We like hilly routes and this one is no exception. It starts off easily enough, before a steep climb on Claife Heights begins to work the muscles, but gives a superb descent to Hawkshead. A easy ramble around Hodge Close and the Langdales area follows, before heading towards Grizedale on the Coniston side for a steep climb up. This is off-piste Grizedale and has a great little technical descent down towards Windermere, finishing easily and fast on some great tracks.
1. Parking at Windermere, ride down to the ferry, and once crossed over, take the track along the lakeside and through trees until a bridleway sign leads steeply over a rocky track towards Hawkshead. This steep track is technical in places. However, the descent down towards Hawkshead is superb, on fast flowing and even tracks.
2. The track comes out on a quiet lane. Turn left and head down through Colthouse. On leaving the cottages of this pretty hamlet behind, a gravel lane is seen to the right, with a farmhouse in view. To the right of this lane is a wooden village notice board. This is Scar House Lane, and should be taken all the way to Loanthwaite lane.
3. At the junction with Loanthwaite Lane turn left and follow this to the B5286, continuing left until a junction with the B5268 signs right to Coniston. Take this, then turning almost immediately right into Skinner How Lane.
4. At the next road junction a BOAT (Bridleway Open to All Traffic) is signed directly opposite. Cross the road and take this, winding your way on a rolling slate track all the way to Mole End where it drops down to the A593. Cross over and continue as the track heads towards Hodge Close cottages. Turn right and follow this to Stang End, turning left at the farm.
5. A short distance ahead a track to the left leads off and into trees, passing the quarry workings, before skimmimg alongside fields all the way to the A593 again. Turn right towards Coniston for a short distance, before picking up the bridleway on the left towards Low Yewdale, exiting right onto the B5285. At the next junction left, take this – signed Brantwood – climbing steadily on tarmac before it joins the bridleway to the left, opposite a large white washed series of buildings, climbing steeply into Grizedale Forest. Drop through Park Plantation towards the visitor centre. A great little rocky bridleway descends nicely to a stop for tea and buns.
6. Climb on forest tracks until a bridleway leads off and drops down on rocky singletrack through the trees, crossing tarmac and continuing ahead through forestry. The final descent is great fun and will test your line choices. As you exit onto the tarmacked lane, follow the road to the right until a five bar gate leads through to a bridleway adjacent to a meadow on the left and trees to the right.
7. The interest remains high as the track becomes rocky, continuing down through trees, eventually dropping you out onto the final tarmac of the day. Follow this down and back to the ferry and a pint at Windermere.