THIS ROUTE IS A BIT OF A MONSTER, TAKING IN SOME OF THE BEST DESCENDING IN THE LAKES. IT ALSO INCLUDES SOME RATHER CHALLENGING CLIMBS ON AND OFF ROAD
TOTAL MILES : ABOUT 45
TOTAL TIME : 6-7 HOURS
MAPS : OUTDOOR LEISURE 6 AND 7 (BUY IT HERE)
We tend to start this route from Coniston as it offers accommodation and more importantly post ride beer and pie. Theoretically you could start anywhere on the route but from hear you save the best bit until last.
The Coniston Village Webcam!
From the centre of Coniston follow the A593 towards Skelwith Bridge. About 1/2 a mile out of Coniston there is a clearly marked path on the left that follows the road avoiding the mad caravan tower's. This path crosses a small road to the left atSheppard's bridge, take this road, climbing steeply on tarmac to drop down to High Tilberthwaite.
At the end of the road, you pass into a farm yard and turn left through a gate onto a steep rocky bridleway. Follow this (with some great fast descents until you reach the road, turning left intoLittle Langdale . In the village (well, it's a couple of houses and a farm), follow the road straight on (signposted the Seathwaite Via Wrynose). This will take you up and over the Wrynose pass, about 300m of climb, take it slowly!) and drop you down to Cockley Beck.
You have a choice here, you can head up the Hardknott pass (right) if you want to do another big challenging climb and then follow the bridleway from just over the summit back down into the valley (this involves a lengthy push/carry down through the forest) or follow the bridleway down the valley floor (I have never ridden this section) as far asBirks. From here, head uphill on the fireroad and then double back to the left. Follow the fireroad (this is NOT a right of way) until you reach a turn to the left following it down to Grassguards.
Follow the bridleway diversion round the farm yard and back on to the main track. This climbs up to the back of Wallowbarrow Crags. Follow the bridleway down Rake Beck, a fantastic technical rock garden, with an overhanging branch to throw you off course! At the bottom, you can turn right, doubling back at the road or (if you are that way inclined) you can push your bike along the footpath that would make a great bit of singletrack. Either way you nee to end up in Seathwaite at the Newfield Inn. This Pub offers excellent food and is mtber friendly, with a bike locking point on the wall outside. The Landlord, Paul, will also be able to tell you about the conditions of the trails on the next part of the route (albeit from a walkers perspective).
After being all pie'd up in the pub, you have the joy of thePark Head Road, a mile long rocky landrover track climbing 150m! This is almost directly opposite the pub. At the summit, branch left along the Long Myre as far as the road at Stephenson Ground (this may be very boggy when wet). If you are feeling tired, this is your last bail out point.
From here, turn left along the singletrack bridleway that follows the left hand side of the valley. This is a very good and long ascent but becomes a push for the last 1/2mile or so (trust me it's worth it!). WARNING: IT IS VERY EASY TO LOSE THE PATH, THE FORESTRY HAS BEEN FELLED SO THE MAP IS WRONG - TAKE A COMPASS. IF IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE HEADING TOWARDS THE RIGHT, YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY! The push for the last mile takes you up to the quarries half way up the Walna Scar Road. You will have to pick your way through the precipitous slatey drops of the quarry to join the Walna Scar, turning right up the last climb of the day (and boy is it a big one). At the summit, check your brakes and nerve and head down one of the best descents I have ever done. As the path starts to level out (just after a hairy switchback), take the bridleway to theright following it through the snake bite quarry and crossing the river to turn left and head towards Torver. From Torver you follow the road back to Coniston or there is a marked cycle route alontg the lake.