Mountain Pass Mountain Bike Routes

Footpath to Nan Bield Pass

Are you looking for the freedom of a high altitude route, but haven't go the energy for one of our big mountain summit routes? Then you'll want to take a look at our mountain pass routes. A mountain pass is a track, path or road that crosses over the low part between two mountains. But don't be deceived, these are still strenuous routes with a lot of climbing involved, but as always the climbing is rewarded by equally as much downhill afterwards!

All Mountain Pass Routes

Ullswater & Boredale Figure of Eight

Hause Crag above Boredale
Distance: 
20mi / 33km
Ascent: 
1,034m / 3,392ft
Offroad: 
67%
Difficulty: 
79%

This route is a variation on our Ullswater & Bannerdale Figure of Eight route and takes in some of the best Ullswater, in the Lake District, has to offer. From our preferred starting point in Patterdale, we start the ride with the climb of the mountain pass, Boredale Hause, before we drop into the fast singletrack descent into Boredale.

A section of road brings us to the next part of the ride, a climb to The Cockpit stone circle and then the amazing Cockpit to Howtown descent.

But the fun never stops! Up next we have yet the infamous Ullswater Lakeside path, you will either love it or hate it, but this is a section of trail you really must do. The trail roughly follows the lakeside from here, with lots of undulation, and it is an absolute rock-fest!

Ullswater & Bannerdale Figure of Eight

Into Bannerdale
Distance: 
21mi / 34km
Ascent: 
1,130m / 3,707ft
Offroad: 
60%
Difficulty: 
81%

This Lake District route is a variation on our Ullswater & Boredale Figure of Eight route and takes in some of the best Ullswater has to offer. From our preferred starting point in Patterdale, we start the ride with the climb of the mountain pass, Boredale Hause, and traverse of Beda Fell, setting us up nicely for the fun and fast descent into Bannerdale.

A section of road brings us to the next part of the ride, a climb to The Cockpit stone circle and descent of the popular and awesome natural singletrack descent to Howtown.

But the fun isn't over yet, we have yet to tackle the infamous Ullswater Lakeside path, the marmite of mountain bike trails... will you love it or hate it?! Although this trail follows (roughly) the lakeside, don't be fooled, there are plenty of undulations to keep you entertained, and lots of rocks!

Glendaterra & Back o' Skiddaw

On The Edge
Distance: 
32mi / 51km
Ascent: 
1,567m / 5,141ft
Offroad: 
73%
Difficulty: 
97%

Not for the faint-hearted, this route combines two of our most popular Lake District routes - Glendaterra & Lonscale Crags and Back o' Skiddaw - and mashes them together into a killer loop. This route is for those looking for a full day out, if your fitness is up to it!

We begin innocently enough with a gentle spin along the old railway route from Keswick to Threlkeld. We then climb onto the flanks of Blease Fell, ascending to Skiddaw House. This sets up nicely for the long descent, following the Cumbria Way to Mosedale.

A road section gets us to the next climb, to the old mine workings north of Skiddaw where we're treated a lovely descent to Branthwaite, followed by an undulating trail taking you to Peter Head Farm, which marks the start of the stunning Whitewater Dash waterfall climb.

Once the tough climb to the waterfall is dispensed with, it's time for the epic descent of exposed Lonscale Crags trail, followed by the ever-popular descent of Latrigg.

Borrowdale Bash

Overlooking Derwent Water from the Borrowdale Bash route
Distance: 
17mi / 27km
Ascent: 
774m / 2,539ft
Offroad: 
38%
Difficulty: 
67%

This classic Lake District mountain bike route starts and ends in Keswick and performs a full loop around the picturesque Derwent Water and Borrowdale valley. Despite being reasonably easy effort wise, the Borrowdale Bash includes several miles of wonderful technical singletrack and beautiful views across Keswick, Derwent Water, Skiddaw and the fells beyond.

As mentioned the route starts in Keswick (making it easy to access directly from the A66). The first leg takes the road south along the east bank of Derwent Water before climbing into the fells past Ashness Bridge and towards Watendlath Tarn. Birkett's Leap then drops you back into the Borrowdale valley and climbs the other side where it descends once again, flanking High Scawdel and returning north to Keswick via the Allerdale Ramble high above the west bank of Derwent Water.

Back o' Skiddaw

Back o'Skiddaw
Distance: 
21mi / 34km
Ascent: 
893m / 2,929ft
Offroad: 
59%
Difficulty: 
76%

This classic northern Lake District mountain bike route takes you around the north edge of the Skiddaw range of mountains, starting from Mosedale.

The route sets off with a decent climb to the old mine workings north of Skiddaw where it delivers a nice descent to Branthwaite, followed by an undulating trail taking you to Peter Head Farm, which marks the start of the stunning Whitewater Dash waterfall climb.

Once the tough climb to the waterfall is dispensed with, it's all downhill for a glorious 7 miles (11km) of fun, all the way back to the start at Mosedale, punctuated only with one short climb up to Skiddaw House.

Sty Head & Stake Pass

Stake Pass
Distance: 
18mi / 29km
Ascent: 
1,236m / 4,055ft
Offroad: 
82%
Difficulty: 
82%

This difficult route, crossing two mountain passes in the central Lake District, starts in the stunning Great Langdale valley. It climbs out of the head of the valley over tough, rocky terrain to Angle Tarn, after which it levels out and passes Sprinkling Tarn and Styhead Tarn. From here it enjoys the northern descent of Sty Head to Seathwaite in the Borrowdale valley.

The return leg sees you following the scenic track along the banks of Langstrath Beck before the terrain jerks skyward as it follows the Cumbria Way for a killer climb of Stake Pass. This soon pays for itself however with the technical, but wholly rideable and enjoyable descent back into Great Langdale.

Helvellyn Ridge & The Old Coach Road

Distance: 
17mi / 27km
Ascent: 
1,338m / 4,389ft
Offroad: 
80%
Difficulty: 
82%

Our second Helvellyn route (the first is here) takes a slightly different approach. We tried to consider which of the many bridleways on the ridge are actually the most ridable, and this is what we came up with.

This route starts one the Thirlmere side of the Helvellyn range, from the car park at Thirlspot. We climb from here on an old pony track onto the ridge, a lot of which is surprisingly rideable. After a quick there-and-back of the summit (ok then, maybe not quick!), the route follows the whole ridge from south to north before descending from Great Dodd on grassy singletrack. Finally, a blast along the Old Coach Road and a short road section gets you back to the car.

Helvellyn & Sticks Pass

Distance: 
12mi / 19km
Ascent: 
936m / 3,070ft
Offroad: 
83%
Difficulty: 
75%

This is a technical and strenuous route taking you to the summit and back of England’s highest peak legally accessible by mountain bike, Helvellyn.

Although this shouldn't be attempted by the faint-hearted, the promise of 954m of descending offers enough motivation to make all the climbing worth it. This combined with the breathtaking views across the Lake District and as far as Scotland on a clear day should be enough to put Helvellyn firmly on any serious mountain biker's to-do list. So what are you waiting for?