Buy the OS Route Map and instructions for this route

Sandwiched between the Dales and the Lakes, the Howgill Fells conceal some varied and demanding mtb’ing that makes a great alternative to the national parks – particularly if they’re chock full of tourists, or the clag has obscured the hillsides as well as the tops.
The eye is easily drawn to the lumbering giants of Brant Fell and The Calf, that tower above Sedbergh in the south of the region, and indeed there are some fine routes over these; but there’s plenty of other good sport further north, particularly on the rock-topped hillsides that drain into the River Lune, just east of the M6 motorway. This ride takes an in-depth look at these.
The opening leg provides a gentle warm-up with quiet roads and little-used green lanes driving you east along the line of the river to Newbiggin-on-Lune. The ante is upped from here, and after a few easy farm drives down to Scandal Beck, the trail breaks out over some heather-covered moorland on Smardale Fell, with great views north to the spectacular Smardale Viaduct – if you clean the climb from the bridge, you’re doing well. A fast grass-track and lane descent leads into Crosby Garrett, where often gooey farm drives and field-edge tracks lead back west.
It saves the best ‘til last; with a short climb onto the limestone-topped ridge of Great Ashby Scar, followed by some delightful singletrack that weaves its way deviously between heather, clints and grikes. A final short climb gains the escarpment edge, and a rough and rocky descent plummets you uncomfortably back into the quiet streets of Orton.