Points of Interest

This page lists the points of interest found in all of our mountain bike routes here at Fat Tyres. These could be mountains, rivers, towns, castles, lakes, even ancient stone circles! If anything takes your fancy on these pages, simply click on the photograph for a list of routes featuring that particular item.

Thirlmere

Thirlmere is a reservoir in the central Lake District national park and it sits nestled between the high mountains of the Helvellyn range to its east, and High Seat and the Wythburn Fells to its west. Wyth Burn feeds the reservoir at its southern end, and Thirlmere empties into St John's Beck to the north.

Mountain biking in the area is perhaps not as extensive as other parts of the Lakes but there are routes and bridleways dotted about, although they may involve some tough hike-a-bike climbs or slow, picky descents. At Dob Gill, to the southern end, a bridleway climbs steeply past Harrop Tarn and then Blea Tarn to cross Watendlath Fell, before descending very steeply to Watendlath Tarn. This takes you over to the west, on the east side at about the same point a steep, stepped bridleway climbs right onto the Helvellyn ridge. This is completely unrideable either up (and most likely down), but is probably the quickest way onto the ridge if you don't mind shouldering the bike and carrying for an hour or so.

Thirlspot, also on the east bank, offers a much more rideable bridleway (in both directions) which also gets you onto the ridge between White Side and Lower Man. Finally there's Sticks Pass which crosses the Helvellyn range from Legburthwaite at the northern end of Thirlmere, passes between Stybarrow Dodd and Raise and eventually descends to Glenridding. This is mostly rideable in both directions, with just a few push/carry sections along the way.

Bowderdale in the Howgill Fells

Bowderdale is a dale in the Howgill Fells in Cumbria. It’s head is right on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, close to Cautley Spout and it runs north through the fells to Bowderdale village. A track drops into the dale from the summit of The Calf and descends the steep-sided valley for its entire length of 7km (5mi) on one of the best pieces of singletrack you will find in this country. It’s simply unmissable, if you’ve never rode this then do so now!

Grange is a small village in Borrowdale in the Lake District. It sits just off the main road by the picturesque River Derwent, surrounded by impressive mountains including High Spy, Grange Fell and Ashness Fell.

In terms of mountain bike route options, Grange lies on a part of the Cumbria Way that is classified as bridleway, and forms part of many popular routes around here. The Cumbria Way to the north contours Cat Bells' eastern flank, affording stunning panoramas across Derwent Water to Keswick and Skiddaw beyond. Taking a left from this route would take you over Hause Gate, the mountain pass between Maiden Moor and Cat Bells.

South from Grange, also along the Cumbria Way, at first follows the river before climbing onto the flanks of High Spy then High Scawdel. The bridleway eventually comes to an end in this direction as it meets Honister Pass on its eastern side, about 50m below the the high point.

Keswick

Keswick is a bustling community and self-proclaimed outdoor capital of England in the north of the Lake District. It is a highly popular spot for tourists, owing probably to its proximity to the A66 - one of the main routes into the Lakes.

There are a wealth of pubs, cafes, restaurants and museums to name just a few attractions. There's something for everyone. For the mountain biker, Keswick Bikes offer a very friendly service and stock pretty much anything you might need, they also provide hire bikes for those that don't fancy transporting their own rig halfway across the country.

As a base for mountain biking Keswick is perfect too, it is surrounded by a probably unparalleled amount of excellent mountain biking terrain. You have:

  • NorthSkiddaw, Skiddaw Forest and Lonscale Fell. Some amazing bridleways here, particularly the trail that skirts Lonscale Fell which has a truly alpine feel with a vertical drop off one side.
  • North-east – the mighty Blencathra. There's no legal bike route to the top (I don't think, correct me if I'm wrong) but you can do a circuit of the whole mountain for spectacular views and this route also takes in the Lonscale Fell trail.
  • EastMatterdale Common is packed full of riding opportunities and for those a little fitter, this direction takes you to the Helvellyn ridge (although usually you would begin a Helvellyn ride from a little closer).
  • SouthBorrowdale which again offers ample opportunity for exploring and is famous for the Borrowdale Bash route.
  • WestWhinlatter Forest where you can get your fix of man-made waymarked mountain bike trails.
Track junction near Low Arnside

Park Fell is a 284m hill overlooking Windermere and Little Langdale in the Lake District. One bridleway contours its western flank, in a north/south direction and serves as a link to the area's routes.

Cropton Forest

Cropton Forest is a coniferous forest in the North Yorkshire Moors managed by the Forestry Commission, and home to the Newtondale Forest Drive. The North Yorkshire Moors Railway runs along Newton Dale in a north/south direction, forming the forest's eastern edge.

Striding Edge and Helvellyn

Helvellyn is the highest peak legally accessible by mountain bike in England. It stands majestically at 949m above sea level and forms part of the impressive Helvellyn ridge which runs for approximately 12km (7.5 miles) north to south, dividing the valleys of Thirlmere and Ullswater. Indeed some routes cover the full length of this ridge.

Routes on Helvellyn are however not limited to the ridge. There are a massive variety of bridleway options available including a descent off Great Dodd, Sticks Pass, Keppel Cove, Birk Side, and Grisedale to name but a few.

The bridleway to the north leads down Lower Man – a cracking descent – and then back up onto White Side. The bridleway to the south takes you to Nethermost Pike and then on to Dollywaggon Pike. All of these peaks offer a choice of some serious descents into the surrounding valleys, so just get on your bike and explore!

The path to Nethermost Pike

Nethermost Pike is 891m (2,923ft) fell in the Helvellyn range of mountains in the Lake District National Park. Its summit is just off the main bridleway that runs the length of the ridge, north takes you to Helvellyn itself and beyond. South takes you to Dollywaggon Pike before dropping into Grisedale and eventually ending up at Patterdale.

Rampsgill Head

Rampsgill Head is a 792m (2,598ft) fell in the Lake District, the peak of which lies just a few meters from the former roman road bridleway running along the High Street range of mountains.

Bridleways head of in three directions. Heading west drops you past Hayeswater and down Hayeswater Gill to Hartsop and Brothers Water – although the bridleway seemingly disappears before Hayeswater as you descend across a field, but just head for the dam where you can pick it up again easily. South takes the roman road route to the summit of High Street and beyond, eventually reaching Windermere. Finally north also follows the roman road route along the High Street ridge, leading predominently downhill and via some of the Lake District's best singletrack, eventually spitting you out at Pooley Bridge.

There are lots of route options available here but at 792m, be warned, there's a lot of climbing involved!

Borrowdale

This picturesque valley in the Lake District is probably the finest example of a steep sided glacial valley in England. The higher southern end, the 'jaws of Borrowdale' is overlooked by steep imposing cliffs on each side. The River Derwent runs its length and empties into Derwent Water at the lower and wider nothern end of Borrowdale. At the far northern end of the valley is tourist favourite Keswick with its pubs, cafes, bike shops and museums. To the south, the road begins to rise as it lifts you up over Honister Pass.

The valley is home to several settlements. The largest of these is Rosthwaite, which has a couple of pubs and a shop for refreshments. Also in the valley are Stonethwaite, Seatoller and Seathwaite.

Borrowdale, as you might expect, is riddled with mountain bike route options. Bridleways, in some cases clinging to the rocky precipices, run the length of the valley as well as descending off the surrounding fells. One of the more well known routes is the Borrowdale Bash but its worth exploring because some of the other trails offer fantastic mountain biking.

On the descent from Grisedale Hause to Grisedale Tarn

At the head of the Grisedale valley, Grisedale Tarn nestles between Dollywaggon Pike, Fairfield and Seat Sandal in the Helvellyn range of mountains in the Lake District.

The setting is outstandingly picturesque, a good place for a sandwich stop on one of our routes!

The bridleway that descends Dollywaggon Pike from the north has been upgraded by the fix the fells project to the point that its hardly ridable as descent, and definitely a hike-a-bike route as an ascent. To the south a singletrack bridleway (pictured) heads over Grisedale Hause and flanks the south of Seat Sandal before dropping down into Little Tongue Gill and eventually to Grasmere, and is rideable in both directions. To north east lies the 5.5km (3.5mi) fast descent into Grisedale itself which eventually leads to Ullswater and Patterdale.

Dob Gill Woods

Dob Gill drains Harrop Tarn into the south-west of Thirlmere in the Lake District, as it descends through Dob Gill Woods.

A bridleway climbs from Watendlath Tarn, 2 or 3 miles to the north-west, up to Blea Tarn on Watendlath Fell, before passing over the top and dropping back down, through Dob Gill Woods, passing Harrop Tarn, to the quiet road on Thirlmere's western bank.

Cleveland Way on Urra Moor

Urra Moor is the highest moor in the North York Moors National Park. Its highest point, Round Hill, is 454m (1,490ft) above sea level, and is also the highest point in the North York Moors.

The moor is bordered on its north edge by the Cleveland escarpment, and on its west by Bilsdale and Clay Bank. Several trails cross the moor, notably the Cleveland Way (a bridleway at this point) which climbs from Clay Bank in the west and crosses to meet the dismantled railway at Bloworth Crossing in the east.

Following the ridge that marks the western edge above Bilsdale is a lovely section moorland singletrack, running north to south. There are plenty of on/off options along this route too.

Glaisdale Village

Glaisdale is a village in the North Yorkshire Moors, just south of Lealholm and west of Egton Bridge. Two bridleways lead west onto Glaisdale Moor, leading to Glaisdale Rigg. Another drops down through fields into the valley and to Glaisdale Beck. There's a station here too if you're using the Esk Valley Railway to return from a route.

Low and High Sprintgill, with Wandale Hill behind

Wandale Hill is a 497m (1,631ft) fell in the Howgill Fells in Cumbria, it sits just outside of the Yorkshire Dales park boundary. A track follows the contours around the hill on both east and west sides from the farm at Adamthwaite to the north. The eastern side follows the field boundaries and is the most direct route to Narthwaite to the south. The western path takes a longer route that follows Adamthwaite Sike, curves around the fell and also meets at Narthwaite.

'That's some chimney!', a curiosity at Weasdale

Weasdale is a small village in the Howgill Fells in Cumbria, about 10km (6mi) south-east of Kirkby Stephen. Two bridleways go north through fields and both meet at Wath about 1km away. East on the road is the only way in/out for motor vehicles and this takes you to Newbiggin-on-Lune and the A685 or, with another bridleway through a few fields, to Ravenstonedale.

Descending Dollywaggon into cloud inversion

Dollywagon Pike is a 858m mountain in the Helvellyn range of mountains in the Lake Distirict, which sits between the Thirlmere and Ullswater valleys. A single bridleway crosses the summit, heading to High Crag and Helvellyn to the north and Grisedale Tarn to the south.

Dollywagon Pike features in most Helvellyn summit routes, and indeed is part of the classic route, but recent path 'improvements' have made some of the bridleway technical to say the least. We're talking trials-style boulders and slow progress if you decide to take the descent to the south. That said, this is a classic bridleway route and if you're serious about mountain biking you have to be able to say you've done it.

Blea Tarn

There are two tarns named Blea Tarn in the Lake District. This is one located on Watendlath Fell, between the Thirlmere valley and Borrowdale, and sits close to the bridleway between Dob Gill and Watendlath Tarn. The trail climbs through the woods from the banks of Thirlmere, past Harrop Tarn, before dropping down and descending past Blea Tarn to Watendalth. From Watendlath a short climb gets you to the beginning of the excellent technical descent of Birkett's Leap.

Sunset and Fog over the Hole of Horcum

The Hole of Horcum is an impressive glacial feature in the North Yorkshire Moors that looks more like an impact crater at first glance. It is acutally part of the valley formed by Levisham Beck and its glacial predecessors. It is situated on the A169 Whitby to Pickering road where there is also a public carpark, and in summer a food caravan selling refreshments.

There aren't any bridleways that pass through the valley itself but Levisham Moor to its west is crossed by a single bridleway which runs from Saltergate Bank in the north almost to Levisham in the south. This is a well-surfaced, easy-going track and forms part of a few routes.

To the east there are a couple of options. One track, known as Old Wife's Way, crosses Lockton Low Moor before entering Dalby Forest which was the venue for the 2010 mountain bike world cup. Another track heads north-east before descending Saltergate Bank, eventually leading to the RAF base, RAF Flyingdales. This gives access to the many routes on Fylingdales Moor.

Ambleside

Ambleside is a bustling tourist town in the heart of the English Lake District, situated at the head of England's largest lake, Windermere. Its central position makes it a great base for mountain biking, and exploring the national park.

From here, you can get easy access to many top mountain bike trails including the Helvellyn ridge to the north, High Street to the north-east, the Kirkstone and Garburn passes to the east, Claife Heights to the south, Furness Fells to the south-west, Little Langdale and Great Langdale to the west and finally Grasmere Common and Greenup Edge to the north-west.

So, tons of opportunity around here. Also, you won't have any difficulty finding somewhere to stay, there are plenty of hotels and B&Bs in Ambleside, and it has more than its fair share of pubs, cafes and tearooms too which are open all year round serving refreshments.

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