Mountain Ridge Mountain Bike Routes

Sunlit ridge of Dollywaggon Pike

Riding a mountain bike along the ridge of a UK mountain range will make you feel more alive than anything else! We have plenty of options here in northern England, particularly in the Lake District. Here you can link up big mountain routes with these ridges. A couple of fine examples are the Helvellyn range, taking in England's highest mountain accessible by bridleway, and the High Street massif which, if you rode the full length would take you up no less than 12 peaks!

These long, high-altitude trails with there sweeping panoramic views will add a little 'joie de vivre' to your outings.

All Mountain Ridge Routes

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.

High Street & Ullswater

High Street
Distance: 
23mi / 37km
Ascent: 
1,467m / 4,812ft
Offroad: 
89%
Difficulty: 
92%

This difficult route takes in not only the High Street summit but also 4 (or more with a few detours!) other summits and the Ullswater lakeside bridleway. As you can imagine it blends tough climbing and technical riding with long sections of singletrack and fun technical sections.

Starting at Patterdale, the route soon heads skywards, taking in Hartsop and Hayeswater before summiting the 828m High Street itself. Follow this with an epic singletrack crossing of the ridge with views across Ullswater and the north-eastern Lake District, and the descent from The Cockpit to Howtown and you'll soon see that you're on a huge adventure. But that's not it, the ride ends on the famous technical bridleway back to the car for even more thrills and (probably) spills.

It’s not for the fainthearted, but it’s definitely worth it!

Bowderdale Classic (Howgill Fells)

Howgills
Distance: 
23mi / 37km
Ascent: 
1,103m / 3,618ft
Offroad: 
65%
Difficulty: 
83%

A difficult mountain bike route that takes in both the Yorkshire Dales and Cumbria. Start with a killer climb out of Sedbergh, one which takes you right to the top of The Calf at 676m (2,218ft). It’s tough but once you’re here you can rest assured that the rest of the route is predominantly downhill, and it starts right now with an awesome 6km (4mi) long descent of Bowderdale.

The return legs climbs again but this time nowhere near as much as earlier, you pass between Harter Fell and Knott before descending again on some cracking singletrack right the way back to Sedbergh, roughly following the River Rawthey. Look out for the wild horses that roam around this area!

As an extra bonus, try and find time to visit Cautley Spout, England’s highest waterfall, as it’s not far off the route but only accessible on foot.

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?