Friday 22nd November 2013

An idea I've had for a while was to ride across the Lakes to my parents house at Millom, making use of as much bridleway as possible. With a weekend visit to my parents due, I decided to put the plan into action and duly plotted a route from Keswick that looked like it could work. Most of the trails I knew well, while some sections I hadn't ridden for over a decade and there was the odd bit I'd never touched before.

I was dropped off at Keswick in the morning and headed out with a gentle pedal up the road to Watendlath to take in the descent down to Rossthwaite. This is the first part of 'The Borrowdale Bash' - a very well known and popular trail. Today, I was setting off from Keswick at 8am and there had been a hard frost, making the descent that little bit more hazardous under the wheel - great fun!

Having dropped back down into Borrowdale, it was another pedal along the valley to Seathwaite to head up to Sty Head Tarn. This was the biggest climb of the day, rideable as far as Stockley Bridge, then a carry after that, though surprisingly easy going compared to some hike a bike routes in the Lakes.

Sty Head Tarn was deadly still and everywhere around was frosted over, with hardly a soul to be seen. Then came the descent into Wasdale, which I was anticipating could be quite hard work having ascended the route before, but never descended. The top section was quite treacherous on the icy rock, but probably rideable in better conditions. There were a couple of craggy sections that required a lift down, but apart from that, it turned out to be a much better descent than I was expecting, 95% rideable with a combination of loose singletrack and stepped sections, typical of the many high level paths in the Lakes.

Having dropped into Wasdale and out of the shadow of the mountains (literally - it was a perfect blue sky day!) for the first time on the ride, the next 'up and over' was to Eskdale via Burnmoor Tarn. A well used trail in my younger days, is quite hard going and not a path I would go out of my way to use, yet at the same time wouldn't intentionally avoid. I passed a couple of other riders here, who were doing an equally challenging linear route - Coniston to Buttermere.

At Boot, in Eskdale I was about half way, so stopped for some lunch, then headed along the bridleway which follows the River Esk up to the foot of Hardknott Pass. Another big climb involved skirting the edge of Harter Fell to access Dunnerdale. A trail I've never been on before and looked like it would be a great descent... noted for a future ride!

Once into Dunnerdale, it was a case of navigating down to the excellent Wallowbarrow descent, one of my favourites that I haven't been down for years. I then made my way down Dunnerdale with a slight diversion to take in 'The Pig Track'. This trail is a necessary evil - the first mile being a hard to navigate, marshy nightmare, but rewarded at the end with a great little descent through the woods, finishing on a greasy rock covered path bringing you out at Duddon Bridge.

With the Lakeland section finished, it was a steady pedal along the banks of the Duddon Estuary to Millom, followed by a long bath to relax some very weary muscles!

Stats 'n that

Location info

How far and how long:

44.53 miles, 7 hours 45 minutes
Sty Head

Sty Head

Wasdale

Wasdale

Burnmoor Tarn

Burnmoor Tarn

Eskdale

Eskdale