Ullswater Circuit Mountain Bike Route
This route is perfect if you fancy something technical, but without too much effort because it involves hardly any climbing and yet it still manages to take in what is probably the best technical bridleway in the country – the Ullswater lakeside path from Howtown to Glenridding. Not only is the technical riding superb, it also affords breathtaking views across Ullswater.
The only downside of this ride is the long road section it starts with. The first 11 miles are on-road but this just serves as access to the ride itself, and it’s over in no time anyway and the scenery is fantastic.
The recommended start is at Patterdale in the all-day car park opposite the Patterdale Hotel’s beer garden. You could start from Pooley Bridge but this would put the road section at the end of the ride, and personally I’d rather get the road out of the way at the beginning.
Head north east out of Patterdale on the A592, heading towards Pooley Bridge. This 11 mile road section gets you to the real start of the ride and itself can be draining to the not so fit. Just follow the road all the way to Pooley Bridge, you can break it up by nipping on and off the road by the lakeside, but expect to end up carrying it up some steps at the last lay-by.
From Pooley Bridge continue following the road, first over a mini-roundabout and then straight over the crossroads heading uphill and eventually turning into a bridleway just after Roehead.
Follow the bridleway uphill for another mile or so until you reach a crossroads marked by a cairn, turn right here where we briefly join part of the High Street roman road and follow the track up to the ancient stone circle known as ‘The Cockpit’. The track bears right here, keep on following the obvious track over and down Lock Bank, once again heading towards the lake.
At the bottom of the descent the track follows a dry stone wall on the right with views across Ullswater beyond, and the fells on your left. This section is fairly flat and you can make good progress if you push it, or you can take it easy whilst you still have chance and enjoy the views.
You will come out at Howtown. Cross the footbridge or ford the stream and head up the grassy bank at the opposite side and when you see the small church down to your right, follow the track down to it and the road. Take a left onto the road and enjoy the fast descent towards Sandwick, being sure to keep Hallin Fell on your right and Sleet Fell on your right and keep heading for the lake.
Just before you reach Sandwick and the end of the road, take the bridleway on the left. This path will lead you on to the most exciting part of the ride, the lakeside bridleway. Keep to the lower level, hugging the lake side. This rocky bridleway is probably one of the best pieces of technical bridleway in the country so lower your saddle and enjoy the ride!
After the long and fun lakeside section, take a turn down the unnamed road at Rooking, take a right onto the main road and you will arrive back at the car park.
If it’s sunny enjoy a pint in the Patterdale Hotel beer garden, and if it’s not then try the steak and chips at the White Lion.
Points of Interest
Forests make up the bread-and-butter for many mountain bikers, and here in the UK we have no shortage of forest with mountain bike access. Head for the woods if the weather turns wet, the ground takes longer to dampen.
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.
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!