FATMAP difficulty grade
From Thirlspot Inn, follow the steep bridleway climbing up onto the fell, contouring around the side of Whiteside, and joining the Helvellyn ridge just below Lower Man.
Take a quick(ish) diversion to the summit if you haven't been before to check out the view and stand atop the highest mountain you can legally ride in England with a bike, then retrace your steps and follow the ridge north past Stybarrow, Watson's, and Great Dodd.
Small cairns guide the way down the steep grassy track over Matterdale Common, which gradually becomes more defined and less steep, turning to delightful singletrack all the way down to the Old Coach Road.
Follow this great rough track predominantly downhill to St John's in the Vale, before a final road pedal back to Thirlmere.
This route is best done after a period of dry weather as the descent from the ridge can be boggy when wet.