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Ratherheath

Ratherheath

Route Information

Stats: 22 miles and 1940 feet of ascent

OS Map Link:

Refreshments

Best bet is the Watermill Inn at Ings. There’s also the Brown Horse at Winster later on.

Start Point: Scream Point at SD490961. Turn left just at the end of the short dual carriageway section. There’s parking either side of the lane.

Character

There are many reasons why you should do this ride: if the higher hills are misted up, snowed up or rained off, if you only have time to venture a little way from the motorway or if you have someone in the party likely to be nervous on the harder trails. But the best reason is the simplest – it’s a beautiful ride.

Come in springtime, when the sky is filled with curlew trills and jay cackles, while the landscape is a riot of primroses, daffodils and gorse, with blackthorn blossom lining the hedges. For a ride in between Kendal and Windermere, it’s surprisingly quiet.


Route

1. Head off down the lane away from the A591. Fork left (Yellow sign “Holiday Homes”)

2. Fork right into the rough track at the Camping and Caravanning Club site. Go straight on at the end of the lane and join the Dales Way arcing round New House Farm.

3. Turn right at spot height 157 and rise past Fell Plain, forking left into the bridleway where the road levels out. Curve to the right round a small wood and join the road at Borwick Fold.

4. Turn left and follow the road, forking right near power lines. Go past Yews (old OS maps show a bridleway running north from here but it since has been demoted to footpath).

5. Where the road dinks left, turn right to Whasdike and go through the wood to join the gated road under the railway to Ings. The Watermill Inn is on your right.

6. Cross the A591 with care and head up Grassgarth Lane. Turn right at spot height 157 onto the tricky bridleway climb. Go past Heights Farm onto The Heights.

7. Follow the lane north then northwest, ignoring the lane to the right. At an unsigned junction, turn half right and keep heading northwest.

8. Follow bridleway signs towards High House, going through a gate with a huge tree stump raising a finger into the sky. Shortly after, turn right to High Borrans.

9. After High Borrans, turn left on the Ings-Troutbeck Road for a few metres and turn right. Then turn left at spot height 198. Ride south to re-cross the A591.

10. Zag right for a few metres and turn left on bridleway (NB the sign says it’s footpath after the railway, so cross the line with care and walk the few paces into the housing estate.

11. Head up to the left to pick up the byway heading south to Cleabarrow, taking care to close the deer gates and protect the community woodland.

12. Turn right on the B5284 for half a mile and turn left into Lindeth Lane. Head south, ignoring the green lane crossing the road. Join the A5074 through Winster and out the other side.

13. Turn left on bridleway (signposted Thornyfields 3/4 mile). Ignore the right fork and keep heading north-east, dropping down a gorse-filled valley.

14. Turn sharp right at Thorneyfields then joint the road briefly at spot height 62.

15. Turn left onto bridleway at Bulman Strands farm. Zigzag up through the fields to Birk Moss and keep heading broadly east-north-east, veering right just before Crook Hall, with the tower of St Catherine’s church on the left.

16. Drop down to the road and head south past the golf course, turning left through Beckside farm. After the farm, the tracks branch out in manifold directions and become indistinct, but you need to pick up the strong bridleway heading north then north east to Capplerigg Lane. At one point the signage offers a bridleway on the right bur hold your course.

17. At the B-road, turn right then immediately left into Ratherheath Lane. Follow this to the end and the the start is just 200 yards down the A591 to your left.




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Floutern Pass

Floutern Pass & Scarth Gap

Route Information

Stats: 21.3 miles and 3,475 feet of ascent

OS Map:

Refreshments

Nothing out on the trail but check out the Kirkstile Inn and Newhouse Café near the start.

Start: If you’re arriving by car, please park considerately. There’s a National Trust car park at Scale Bridge or, if you’re as tight as me, there’s room to stash a vehicle at the 101m spot-height at NY147214.

Character

You’ll need the usual rough-with-the-smooth attitude that goes with Lakeland riding, especially in the west. Expect a few stretches of pushing and expect marshy ground – the name “Mosedale” is a clue to mossiness and ooze. If that’s not your bag, go swing round some Whinlatter berms instead


Route

1. Bimble down to lane past Muncaster House to the holiday cottages of Lowpark

2. Turn right onto the bridleway round the back of the cottages and climb into the woods above

3. Gain a pleasant platform above the woods. Look out for pied flycatchers in here.

4. Join a bigger track coming up from the right (our descent, later) and head south up the lonely valley if Mosedale. Ignore the footpath sloping up to the left (towards the famous Mosedale Holly) and instead dink right towards the beck. Gain a moraine and head up right to a gate. A short push above Floutern Tarn brings you to the watershed.

5. A fine descent, dropping into a drove-road, takes you down to Ennerdale. At NY100168, bear left at an unmarked junction into an overgrown track down to the road.

6. Drop down to the left on tarmac, all the way to Bowness Knott car park. Then follow fire-road all the way up the valley, with Pillar Rock towering above on your right.

7. About 300m short of the Black Sail hut, push up a steep rocky path skirting the forest, doubling back on yourself. It’s not a long push to the Scarth Gap but..

8. …unless you’re part of the Red Bull team, you won’t be able to leap back into the saddle straight away. A mixture of tentative riding and downhill pushing (that uniquely excruciating mode of travel) takes you down to a point that will depend on ability and courage. Don’t forget to zag right towards Peggy’s Bridge.

9. After the excitement of the descent, the ride along the lakeshore is a welcome break. At the Lake foot, keep to the left of the river and ride under more woods to the shore of Crummock Water.

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Loughrigg Loop

Loughrigg Loop

Route Information

Stats: 14 miles and 2150 feet of ascent

OS Map:

Refreshments

Chesters at Skelwith Bridge are peerless for carbs – their granola slices will keep your thighs fuelled for hours. If thirsty, the Britannia Inn at Elterwater will give you a friendly welcome.

Character

If you don’t have a superb time on this route, whatever the weather, it may be time to have a long, hard, look in the mirror and ask yourself if you’re just a bit of a misery-guts.

This route is a gem, with stunning views, lip-smacking climbs and arse-smacking descents, and although Loughrigg Terrace will be mobbed with walkers taking the obligatory picture of Grasmere (and who can blame them? – I’ve done the same below) much of the route is surprisingly quiet considering its position at Lakeland’s heart. I’ve just ridden it on a midsummer day of sunshine and showers and seen no-one else in the saddle.


Route

1. If you’re up early enough, there’s roadside parking on the Under Loughrigg lane, near Clappersgate Bridge. Please park considerately and tuck in tight. [Failing that, there’s a car park at the north end of the lane.] From the bridge, ride north for 200m, taking the bridleway climbing up to the left.

2. Follow this line along the southern flank of Loughrigg Fell, coming down to Tarn Foot. Go down the lane, turning right (helpfully signposted to Skelwith Bridge) Turn immediately left (unhelpfully, not signposted at all) down the 1:4 past Neaum Crag campsite to Skelwith Bridge. Chesters is here.

3. Cross the bridge, bearing left into the lane marked “unsuitable for…” Then turn right on the Public Way.

4. Turn left at the road, go another 200m up the hill and take the well-marked bridleway on the left. A sporting climb ensues onto the high pasture of Iron Keld. Turn right (fingerpost to Tarn Hows) and right again, dropping back to the A593.

5. Cross the road, and take the lane up through juniper forest and creamy-scented bracken, then rattling down the slate to Hodge Close Quarry. Turn right here (signposted to Stang End)

6. At the end of the lane, bear left at the farm and skirt woods down to the foot- (and tyre-) bridge. There is a testing drop-off from this, and another at the end of the wall. Ride up the lane to the Wrynose road and turn left.

7. Turn right soon after, following signs promising “challenging option”. This promise is soon fulfilled with a rattly descent into Elterwater.

8. Bear slightly left at the village green and cross the main Langdale road. Climb up Red Bank to the Youth Hostel.

9. Go straight through the gate with the ornate handle into Deerbolt Woods, and traverse sensationally above the outflow from Grasmere. There are many paths here but the way should be reasonably obvious. When you meet the trees it zigs down to the left but climbs straight back onto the traverse line.

10. Go past sepulchral caves and a short descent that ranks with the Beast of Hope Cross for head-sized boulderiness.

11. Turn right at Under Loughrigg and trundle back to the start.





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Lonscale Fell

Lonscale Fell

Route Information

Stats: 10 miles & 1859 feet of ascent

OS Map:

Refreshments

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 – my own choice.

Character

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. This is followed by an absolutely epic descent down Latrigg back to Keswick – test your brakes before setting off, as it’s a classic.

2021 – summer sees the re-opening on the old  railway path from Keswick, adding another choice for riders.


Route

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.’

4. If taking the shorter Lonscale ride turn left and roll along this excellent narrow rocky track with it subtle technicalities. The track eventually meets the Skiddaw track and you head down left, descending Latrigg as fast and safe as your skill and nerve allows, all the way back to Keswick. This is an epic and fast descent, but do appreciate and watch out for hikers and others using the trail.
Now all that remains is coffee / tea and cake back in town, and you can try another route after lunch




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Loadpot Hill

Loadpot Hill

Route Information

Stats: 14.3 miles and 1,800 feet of ascent

OS Map:

Start Point: There’s room for half-a-dozen cars on the west bank of Askham Bridge NY518239

Refreshments

Nothing on the hill. Askham has a good shop. Lowther Castle and Gardens are nearby, as is the Bird of Prey Centre if you fancy a diverse range of entertainments.

Character

This is in the North-east corner of the Lakes and most of it faces away from Lakeland but there’s a lovely prospect over Martindale as you near the summit. It’s a long but steady pull on grass onto Loadpot Hill and you don’t keep the height for long. But the wild, swoopy, single-track descent to Heltondale makes it all worthwhile. Pick a dry spell to get the freest-running conditions.


Route

1. Go up the road from the bridge. Turn right into Askham Hall for a short bridleway section. This settles you into the off-road vibe and warms your legs up before they submit to the big haul.

2. At the road, double back sharply. At the crossroads, turn right and start climbing.

3. Bear right at a narrow fork and keep going on steadily rising terrain.

4. Moor Divock (which sounds more like a Cumbrian insult than a place-name) is a six-pointed star of radiating bridleways so take care to pick the right exit. You want to descend briefly on a stony track over a stream and then set off up the grassy ridge.

5. Where it threatens to get steep, bear right and scribe an anti-clockwise loop around the summit of Loadpot Hill.

6. At the ruin marked “chimney” NY457178, roll down the ridge to a small tarn, not marked on OS maps, at the top of Howe Grain.

7. Double back on an initially sketchy track that gains confidence as it goes. Look out for the shaggy fell ponies grazing this wild expanse. They will likely be your only companions. The route is a delight, twisting down the broad tongue between Cawdale and Heltondale.

8. When you reach tarmac, snake north to Helton but don’t overlook the delightful coda to the route down the short bridleway to cross the River Lowther by the footbridge at Tom Winder’s Loom.

9. From the road at Whale, head north, back to Askham.





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Irton Fell

Irton Fell

Route Information

Stats: 13.4 miles and 2,200 feet of ascent

OS Map Link:

Refreshments

The Woodlands Cafe, Santon Bridge

Character

A superb tour of West Cumbria, far away from the crowds. I rode this route (and the neighbouring Muncaster Fell loop) on a dry Bank Holiday Sunday and saw no other riders.

Start: Nether Wasdale


Route

1. From the complex junction at Cinderdale Bridge, take the bridleway north through Mill Place, forking left when given a choice of bridleways. Climb gently past Gill to the road.

2. Turn left and descend at speed, turning right just after the cattle grid. Climb steep grass to a terrace at 150 m. Follow this to the left, over a small stream with woods on your left. At a stone wall, climb steeply again to gain a strong drove road edging the big forest on your right.

3. After a fast descent, turn left on the road and then immediately right on a bridleway to Bolton Head. Now, pay attention, 007. The farm track veers round to the right but the bridleway goes through a gate on your left. This descends on glorious singletrack, stacked to either side with red campion, stitchwort, buttercups and cranesbills.

4. At the bottom of the hill, turn right, then over the bridge that crosses the River Bleng. Counterintuitively, this flows to the left, ie inland, despite being within smelling distance of the Irish Sea.

5. At the Gosforth-Santon Bridge road, go straight over. Zig left at a small house and follow the lane. Where this zags right (post box for Scot Hall), leave it in favour of singletrack going straight ahead. This then makes a couple of half-right turns until you reach a cross roads of tracks, all dirt except the one going straight ahead, which is grassy.

6. Turn left , past Wardwarrow and turn left at the road.

7. With Great Gable as your guide, follow the road inland, through Santon Bridge (cafe is 100m off-route on right) and climb briefly on tarmac towards Eskdale.

8. Turn right on a bridleway (signposted to Slapestones) that descends through wooded parkland. Note the bridleway is interwoven with a forest track but the former is greatly to be preferred.

9. At the bottom (watersplash), turn left on the road and left again, just before the Bowerhouse Inn, to another short tarmac climb.

10. As the gradient eases, turn right on bridleway. After 100m, fork left then, after another 100m, fork right. Beware boisterous bullocks in this field (the solution, I have found, is to bark like a border collie). Follow delightful singletrack into the woods, once more avoiding mor
e obvious (but duller) forest roads.

11. Look out for the 4-way cross in the woods (no sign) at NY141012. You know you’re in the right place when you turn left and immediately meet a forest road doubling back above where you’ve just come.

12. You know the drill now – forest roads bad, singletrack good. Climb very steeply (see if you can stay in the saddle as far as Neil Cannon’s memorial bench). Shoulder the bike for a short unrideable stretch then get your teeth into another test-piece climbing to the top on roots and pine needles.

13. If the weather is clear, you’ll have a great view of the glittering sea with the Isle of Man and the Rhinns of Galloway beyond. Drop the seat and descend on stupidly steep turf, with many a tussock trying to throw you over the bars. Kudos if you can get all the way down without an unscheduled dismount.




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High Street South

High Street South

Route Information

Stats: 12 miles as out-and-back excursion. More if you take the Nan Bield option. Many, many more, if you keep heading north from High Street. Ascent 2,500 feet

OS Map Link:

Start Point: There’s parking for half a dozen cars on the left, just as the A592 climbs and swings left after Limefitt Park caravan site.

Refreshments

Nothing en route. Limefitt Park shop will sell you an ice-cream if you ask them nicely. The Mortal Man at Troutbeck is nearby, or head back to Wilf’s for cafe fodder.

Character

A grand pootle to the lonely head of the Troutbeck valley, followed by a high-level pootle to the summit of High Street. Well worth doing as an out-and-back but can be made into a loop either by wandering far to the north or by making a brief sortie on foot to Nan Bield Pass (no bridleway for c.1 mile) and returning via Kentmere and Garburn Pass.


Route

1. From the layby, turn back south for 100 yards and turn into Limefitt Park. Go straight through this, up past the shop and left around the back. Rake up through a small metal gate and gain a strong bridleway, bordered by woods and deer fence. Follow this line, without cause for confusion, to the head of the valley, dinking left over the beck where you see a narrow bridge and a rise to a better track on the true-right side of the valley.

2. Pedal as far as your lungs and rear-tyre traction will allow then hoik the bike up to the 2000′ contour on the grassy flanks of Froswick.

3. Head north on a grassy ridge but avoid the footpath rising to the majestic pillar on top of Thornthwaite Crag, sticking to a sketchier trail overlooking the vertiginous drop into the upper Kentmere valley. This is not a good place to be in mist but, if you have that misfortune, set your compass to NNE across the marshy plateau, picking up the good track coming in from the left and joining a wall to the top of High Street. Great views from here.

4. Retracing your tracks, the carry up the side of Froswick proves a superb descent (best avoided in the wet as you’ll carve it up if you’re constantly locking the back wheel) followed a pleasant trundle back down to Troutbeck. If you don’t mind a short walk (and why should you in such a place?), you could vary it by heading over Mardale Ill Bell to the top of Nan Bield Pass for a tussocky descent into Kentmere and a stony pull back over Garburn Pass.





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High Street and Boredale

High Street & Boredale

Route Information

Stats: 20 miles and 4000 feet of ascent

OS Map: 

Start Point: Cow Bridge car park, Patterdale

Refreshments

Nothing accessible en route. You could knock on the door of the Howtown Hotel but my impression is that muddy riders aren’t their core clientele. I’d be happy to be proven wrong on this, though.

Character

This route is so classic that the National Trust should slap a preservation order on it forthwith. It has the lot – big, beefy climbs, grassy ridge-riding and two rollicking descents. You can vary it by coming back on the Ullswater shore path or up the flank of Beda Fell but this version keeps at a reasonably consistent standard of rideability. That said, there will be a spot of portage from the Hayeswater dam, but that’s part of the package with Lakeland riding, right?
The moorland cruising north from High Street is ideal on a clear day, and the descent to Howtown one of the most enjoyable anywhere. If you look at the profile graph above, you’ll see that there’s almost unbroken descent from mile 5 to mile 10 – one of the longest descents you’ll ever do. Boredale Hause is a steady pull up to the final rocky gulch (bike back on shoulders here) and the final triumphant plummet into Patterdale is an excellent finale.


Route

1. Ride south on the A592 for ¼mile and turn left to Hartsop. Through the hamlet, rising gently as tarmac yields to off-road.

2. At a cattle-grid (see picture), take the right hand fork to cross the stream and climb up to the dam. Award yourself a lollipop if you can clean this climb.

3. Cross the dam and shoulder your steed for a long stomp up the slope on your left.

4. Join the good track coming in from your left at 1860′ (570m). Head up and to the right, behind the small dome of The Knott.

5. Head south on the High Street ridge, climbing up to the summit itself. Great views from here.

6. Head back down, but turn right at the big junction towards Kidsty Pike.

7. Don’t go too far towards Kidsty – skirt north to pick up a good track heading NNE. Follow this for several miles, keeping straight as a Roman.

8. After Loadpot Hill, bear NE down to the cross-roads of paths at The Cockpit. Turn back on yourself (to the left) here.

9. Follow a brilliant trail all the way down to Howtown, including a section through a garden, observing the sign marked “Cyclists please walk”

10. At this point, you could drop down the drive to join tarmac and climb over the zigzags of The Hause. Better yet, pick up the bridleway skirting the foot of Steel Knotts. Either way, drop on tarmac into Martindale.

11. Take the road up Boredale. After the farm, this becomes a long, grassy pull, followed by a short but unrideable rocky gully.

12. Whizz down the other side of the hause, bearing slightly left to pick up a shingly track descending steeply and winding anti-clockwise round the flank of the hill.

13. At the bottom, go straight on to Hartsop and back to Cow Bridge.





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Grasmere and Loughrigg

Grasmere and Loughrigg

Route Information

This route is a great introduction to Lakes mountain biking. We put it together after the flooding in December 2015, to show what a great place for riding Grasmere and the surrounding fells area.

Stats: 20 miles with 3150 feet of ascent

OS Map:

Refreshments

There are ample little cafes, restaurants and pubs to choose from in Grasmere, along with great places to stay over, including a Youth Hostel. If you do extend the route, then Hawkshead provides a welcome break along the way.

Character

This route rolls and climbs around the fells close to Grasmere and Ambleside, using the lanes to weave together a great route. There’s nothing too testing about the route in terms of technicality, which can easily be extended to Knipe Fold and Hawkshead, to take in the Hawkshead Hilltops route or a trip into Grizedale.


Route

1. From the far end of Grasmere village climb steeply on Red Bank Lane, turning left at the top onto Loughrigg Terrace. Enjoy a cracking little descent to the Ambleside road.

2. Turn right as the track pops out on the lane (bridge seen to the left) climbing the steep hill over the cattle grid and continuing up until the BW is reached on the right near Brow Head Farm, crossing Loughrigg Fell and descending to the road at Skelwith Bridge.

3. Turn right onto the B5343 and cycle along until a BW is signed in trees, joining the River Brathay track all the way into Elterwater village. Turn left at Elterwater on the lane, passing the hostel before taking the track on the right, just after the Elterwater Inn, leading to Little Langdale.

4. This track climbs initally before dropping to the lane at Little Langdale. At the junction turn right and follow the narrow winding lane, passing Little Langdale Tarn. Cross the cattle grid and turn left signed towards Eskdale, taking this lane for a short distance before a track leads off left and rolls along with easy climbs along the way, eventually joining the A593.

5. Exit onto the A593 and turn right. Continue along until a Byway on the left, on the opposite side of the road to ‘High Oxen Fell’ (signed) is taken, passing holiday cottages (small sign). This track climbs steadily before joining a BW on the left which descends, speeding you back down towards Skelwith Brdige, across the edge of Black Fell (OS Map).

6. At Skelwith Bridge turn left and retake the lane from earlier, climbing steeply before taking the BW around Loughrigg Tarn. This BW eventually rejoins Red Bank, dropping you back in Grasmere.





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Duddon Valley

Duddon Valley

Route Information

Stats: 13 miles and 2,840 feet of ascent

OS Map:  Requires map

Refreshment

The Blacksmith’s Arms at the start or The Newfield Inn at Seathwaite.

Character

Short but stunningly sweet. Three descents that all rank among the finest in the Lakes.
Start Point: There’s an honesty-box car park at Broughton Mills reading room.


Route

1. Set off down the valley, forking right at Lane End.

2. Turn right at Croglinhurst and climb on tarmac past Wood House, then sharp left at the fork at 90m (the straight-on option is signposted Hawes. No, not that Hawes.)

3. Go through Pickthall Ground and attain high pastures overlooking the Duddon Valley.

4. Look out for a left-right dink then, not long after, the track reaches a streambed that may well be dry.

5. Instead of crossing the streambed, turn right and follow the true right bank on singletrack. This leads down to a rocky gulch with much mining spoil in evidence. The track is technical and reasonably high-consequence, with a substantial plummet from the miners’ revetment if you falter. Try not to do that. When you get down to the road and look what you just descended, you won’t believe how steep and rocky it looks.

6. Pedal north on tarmac until you’re nearly at the small Primary School, turning right on the bridleway. Climb steeply then cross a high moor to gain the road pass of Kiln Bank Cross.

7. Continue on the same easterly bearing, up a short, stabby climb to a crossroads of bridleways. Turn left here.

8. Plunge with increasing levels of danger and delight to the Newfield Inn.

9. Head north on the road to the Walna Scar road. Turn right here and right at the next fork.

10. Climb steeply to the gate at 420 m and turn right onto singletrack following the wall through old mine workings.

11. The track becomes sketchy but keep a broadly SSW bearing and head towards the coniferous forests of the Lickle Valley. From nowhere, the track becomes highly defined and well gravelled, but don’t get too comfortable. You should avoid getting fooled into the technically dull and legally dubious track over Natty Bridge and instead turn right at 335m onto a fine piece of technical singletrack shadowing the Lickle’s true right bank.

12. From Stephenson Ground, it is possible to get some more off-road by feinting NW from the road and cutting through Jackson Ground and Carter Ground. Or, if you feel you’ve been spoiled enough, enjoy a leisurely tarmac descent over Water Yeat and Hawk Bridges, bearing right at the fork to return to Broughton Mills.





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