Helvellyn & Sticks Pass Mountain Bike Route
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?
The starting point is Gillside campsite in Glenridding. Take the road out of the campsite as if heading back into Glenridding but when you reach the fork, take a left following Greenside Road up towards the youth hostel. The road quickly becomes a gravel track as it crosses a bridge and passes the hostel. From this point you can see the ski centre on Raise up to your left.
Just after the youth hostel the main track continues gently uphill, and a second path climbs the steep bank on the right. We’re going to be taking the steep path, signposted Sticks Pass. This section will inevitably involve a bit a shouldering of the bike as you zigzag up the mountainside but when you reach the top you will be rewarded with a good rideable section.
Heading up into Sticks Gill, follow the bridleway as it heads over the surreal remnants of an old mining site and hugs the base of Green Side. Although uphill, this is a nice piece of singletrack. Follow the track as it gets steeper and climbs to the top of Sticks Pass.
This point, the high point of Sticks Pass, affords beautiful views on a clear day across Thirlmere and beyond. But we’re not heading downhill just yet, instead prepare yourself mentally for another climb and then turn left and take the path up the mountain ahead of you, Raise.
The route from here heads South West, with a screaming fast descent of Raise followed by a medium climb up to the summit of White Side. Heading south now, the descent of White Side is another fast one. If, like it was for us, visibility is low enough for you to not be able to see too far ahead then you’re probably in luck because what lies ahead is the last difficult climb of the ride – the ascent of Lower Man, standing ahead majestically as if stood guarding Helvellyn. This final ascent is rideable at first but becomes steeper and turns into a scramble as you approach the summit, so it’s hike-a-bike time again.
As you approach the summit of Lower Man, the mighty Helvellyn rears its head beyond it. A short distance further on up a gentle slope delivers you to Helvellyn summit. Congratulate yourself because you’ve just climbed England highest legal peak on a mountain bike, and now all that remains is 936 meters (3,071ft) of wonderful downhill. And boy is it welcome after all that climbing!
Leaving the summit, follow the bridleway south along the ridge towards Nethermost Pike, keeping Nethermost Cove on your left. The route skirts around Nethermost Pike just short of the summit and then the same again at Dollywaggon Pike, if you’re a peak-bagger then a short detour will take you to the summits and another two peaks ticked off your list.
After Dollywagon Pike, Grisedale Tarn becomes visible below along with the ‘upgraded’ path dropping down to its banks. The necessary upgrades to the path here may be perfect for walkers but they make biking it a real challenge, but it’s mostly rideable. The trail becomes more fun as it veers to the left by Grisedale Tarn and heads into Grisedale and you get a chance to pick up a little speed, with the odd technical rocky section thrown in for good measure.
As you pass the small climbing lodge Ruthwaite Lodge, the full length of the trail ahead unfolds. Make the most of this final 3 mile blast down into Patterdale. Once you reach the main road, take a left and a small road section will bring you back to Glenridding and the start point of the ride.
Points of Interest
Helvellyn is the highest peak legally accessible by mountain bike in England.
Want to feel like you've really achieved something on your latest ride out? Then give one of our big mountain routes a try.
The UK once had a thriving mining industry. Those days are of course now long gone in this part of the world, but they have left reminders scattered about our landscapes. Evidence of mining is everywhere.
I don't think many mountain bikers would say they don't like the idea of riding lakeside routes on their bike. The presence of a body of water adds an extra element to a ride, a feeling of adventure.
Riding a mountain bike along the ridge of a UK mountain range will make you feel more alive than anything else!
Singletrack is what most of us mountain bikers wish for on a ride, which is a good thing, because most routes out there feature singletrack.