High Street & Ullswater Mountain Bike Route
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!
The best starting point is the all day car park in Patterdale. Take a left out of the car park onto the A592, passing the Patterdale Hotel on your right followed by the White Lion on your left and keep on for about 2 km (1.2 mi) until you reach Bridgend. Take a left here onto the bridleway crossing a few fields. Just after crossing the stream, take a right onto the hard packed track. This track is easy going and leads to Hartsop.
Take a right onto the tarmac road heading uphill. This is the start of the real climbing so make sure you’re psyched up! The road ends at a gate with a mud track beyond, follow this track up keeping Hartsop Dodd and Gray Crag on your right and Brock Crags on your left. The track crosses a footbridge over Hayeswater Gill and gets steep from here, leading up to the small reservoir Hayeswater and its dam. Have a rest here because the real climb onto High Street is about to begin.
The path from here isn’t clear but it heads up to the left of the dam, zigzagging it’s way between the two stone walls. Your target is the corner of the two stone walls close to the summit of The Knott, you may need to shoulder the bike for parts of this section. Crossing over the wall the bridleway heads around The Knott but if you’re into peak-bagging then shoulder the bike and follow the path on your right that follows the dry stone wall to the summit adding an easy extra peak to the ride.
Getting back onto the main track, follow it along the Straits of Riggindale and up onto High Street itself via the old roman road. This is a bit more of a slog than it looks but it’s worth it for the stunning views on all sides. Be carful not to just ride straight past the summit – the track itself doesn’t actually cross it so keep an eye out on your left for the summit cairn otherwise you’re going to end up climbing back on yourself, uphill.
At this point you can give yourself a pat on the back because at 828m above sea level, you’ve just reached the highest point of the ride. But don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s all downhill from here, you still have a few climbs left. Get back onto the old roman road, retracing your steps back to the Straits of Riggindale but follow the track around to the right just after crossing the dry stone wall. This will take you across a wide ridge with Ramps Gill on your left and Riggindale on you right and also brings with it another peak opportunity with a slight detour – Kidsty Pike. If you’re interested simply head up the path on your right to Kidsty Pike summit but bear in mind this is a public footpath so riding isn’t allowed, if not then just carry on following the bridleway.
The bridleway then climbs onto High Raise, the path can be unclear but just head for the summit which is marked with a large cairn and a wind shelter, a perfect spot for a sandwich stop. The trail heads due north from here, keeping to the route of the old roman road and crossing over Red Crag and Wether Hill. The track becomes scarce at points from here on and forks off. Keep to the left path still heading towards northbound to the summit of Loadpot Hill.
From here lower your seat and enjoy the ride because there’s 4km of fast singletrack descent ahead of you, bringing you out at the stone circle known as The Cockpit. Take a left here, doubling back on yourself and following the track over and down Lock Bank, now heading down towards Ullswater and joining up with the Ullswater Circuit route.
At the bottom of the descent the track meets up a dry stone wall and follows the contour with the wall on the right and views across Ullswater beyond. This section is fairly flat and you can make good progress on towards Howtown. Cross the footbridge or ford the stream at Howtown and head up the grassy bank on the other side and when you see the small church down to your right, drop down the track that passes by it to the road. Take a left onto the road and enjoy the fast descent towards Sandwick and the lake shore.
Just before you reach the bottom, take the bridleway on the left which leads to the lakeside bridleway. Keep to the lower level, hugging the lake side. This is a technical funfest with fantastic views across the lake. Lower your saddle and enjoy every moment of it.
This brings you out at Patterdale and a short road section later you’re back at the car park.
Points of Interest
Want to feel like you've really achieved something on your latest ride out? Then give one of our big mountain routes a try.
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.
It's hard to imagine what life must have been like in the days that Stone Henge and the myriad of other stone cirlces in the UK were built, especially when tearing down trails on our modern suspension mountain bikes!