Start Point: The National Trust lakeside car park at High Wray is the best place for this ride. Yes, if you want to, wait for hours to cross on the ferry at Windermere itself, before parking further down. However, taking the road around from Ambleside, you’ll soon locate this car park and have a better day all around.
Distance: Take your pick. For younger members of the family cycle along the lakeside for 2.5 miles to the ferry point, have an ice cream and turn around – nice and reasonably flat ride. For older members, it’s an 8 mile ride of interest.
Lakeside turn around = 5 miles full circuit = 8.3 miles ascent = 958 feet
Hawkshead is nearby and has some super tea rooms and pubs to eat at. Whilst cycling along, the ferry point has a shop for ice creams etc, and Sawrey has the opportunity for a stop for a drink too.
For the real junior riders, a cycle along the lake to the ferry port and back is delightful. Gently rising and falling in the main, with the odd bit where they’ll need a hand, it will be a great day out, with ice creams provided at the ferry point. If you like, take the ferry over as cyclists, saving the long wait, and have a saunter around Windermere and Bowness before crossing back and cycling back along the lake.
For the older kids, it gets more fun, leaving the narrow lanes and taking the well signed bridleways across Claife Heights as the ground rises through trees, before dropping down steeply with some fun speed back to the car. You can even camp for the weekend at the great National Trust site at Low Wray.
1. It’s a fairly easy route this one. From the lakeside car park, head out and follow the track down alongside Lake Windermere, skirting the fringes of the woodland, and with the odd rise in elevation on rocky ground, all the way down to the ferry point.
2. If you’re continuing around the longer ride, after a quick ice cream take the road to Near & Far Sawrey. This is a narrow road, so ensure that kids have helmets and that parent or adults are at the front and back of the group. The road rises as it twists along through high hedges, through Far Sawrey, and onto Beatrix Potter country. Stop here for a cream tea if you have time. There are also toilets here.
3. In Near Sawrey, just after the Tower Bank Arms PH (on the left), you will see Stones Lane to the right, opposite a red post box set in a wall. This is signed for ‘no vehicles – except for access.’ Follow this to Moss Eccles Tarn.
4, This excellent bridleway continues on with a gentle climb, passing on the left of ‘The Scale Tarn’, a very small water spot, before clearing the open meadow and heading back into the trees and turning onto the double track bridleway at Long Heights which heads towards High Wray.
5. Cross over a bridleway crossroads, and at the next junction of tracks, take a left turn following signs to High Wray’ along a well-used track that climbs on the final approach to the the village.
6. Simple route finding now. Once in the village take the road back down to the lakeside car park. Pack away the bikes and head into Hawkshead for a meal. The kids will have had a great time on an adventurous trail, and if you have chance, you can nip to Beatrix Potter’s house.