Guidebook

A Week's Worth of Bike Adventures Around Ambleside

7 beautiful - and challenging - rides from a quaint Lake District town.

Charlie Boscoe

Description

With its traditional slate buildings and cosy pubs, Ambleside is understandably one of the most popular tourist destinations in northern England. The town is bustling in the summer but its proximity to the Lakeland fells means that you can quickly escape the holiday crowds, especially if you're armed with a mountain bike.

The Lake District National Park is one of the most beautiful and atmospheric biking destinations in Europe, and the riding it contains is exceptional. The weather isn't always perfect (to put it mildly!) but on a sunny day, it's hard to beat the ambience of "the Lakes" (as the region is affectionately known). The largest town in the northern part of the National Park is Keswick (https://fatmap.com/guidebooks/7089/stunning-scenery-with-plenty-of-gnar:-mtb-keswick/@54.4949231,-3.2065288,49827.1644589,-90,0,582.7668983,normal) but Ambleside is the capital of the southern part of the range and therefore has all of the amenities and infrastructure you'll need to pass a fun and productive week of riding.

The majority of rides in this guidebook are intermediate or advanced rides and only 2 of them - Loughrigg Terrace and Fell & Iron Keld and Loughrigg - actually begin in Ambleside itself, so this is definitely a collection of rides for the more adventurous biker. 3 of the rides go over the summit of Helvellyn and we make no apology for sending you over it so many times - it's one of the most famous mountains in the UK and there's so much good riding to be had on it that 3 trips is definitely the minimum required to do it justice! Elsewhere in here you'll find a long and stunning loop - Sty Head and Stake Pass - at the end of the Langdale Valley and a shorter loop which is ideal for a quick blast on a damp day.

Ambleside is also the starting point for some of the best hiking in the UK, so once you've completed this list, swap bikes for boots and get started on your next set of Lake District adventures!

Iron Keld and Loughrigg
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Iron Keld and Loughrigg

21.5 km
777 m
777 m
A superb and popular ride with stunning views, testing but rideable climbs, and brilliant descents.
Difficult
Private
Loughrigg Terrace and Fell
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Loughrigg Terrace and Fell

9.7 km
318 m
309 m
This mountain bike route could definitely be called Loughrigg Lite in comparison to some possibilities in the area, but this wouldn’t really do justice to a superb little loop that in just 10km takes in a little of everything that’s good about Lakeland mountain biking.
Moderate
Private
Helvellyn - The Big One
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Helvellyn - The Big One

39.9 km
1,634 m
1,634 m
A mammoth outing from Grasmere climbing up and over the entire Helvellyn ridge, before returning on the Old Coach Road and back on the Thirlmere Valley road to Grasmere. This is a big mountain day out so pack a backpack accordingly!
Severe
Private
Helvellyn - The West Side
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Helvellyn - The West Side

18.8 km
1,230 m
1,227 m
A ride on the lesser used side of Helvellyn for fit and technically skilled riders prepared for a full-on mountain day!
Severe
Private
Helvellyn and the Old Coach Road
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Helvellyn and the Old Coach Road

25.5 km
1,049 m
1,054 m
A big day out with a tough climb up to Helvellyn, a ridge-top adventure crossing the Dodds, fast grassy singletrack, and the great descent of the Old Coach Road to St John's in the Vale.
Severe
Private
Jenkin's Crag

Jenkin's Crag

16.8 km
451 m
451 m
A short and popular loop from Ambleside with some fun technical riding, this makes a great evening or night ride.
Difficult
Private
Sty Head and Stake Pass
The best Routes on FATMAP, hand-picked by FATMAP’s Editorial team.

Sty Head and Stake Pass

33.2 km
1,179 m
1,179 m
A very difficult route for expert riders used to big mountain riding, including two massive hike-a-bike climbs and two steep, technical and rocky descents will delight those who are up to the challenge.
Extreme
Private