Five Ultimate Lake District trails

England’s highest mountains are home to the country’s finest trails. From steep and nadgery woodland singletrack to rough and rocky cols to big mountain summits.

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Basically, there’s quality wherever you look. Here are a few of our favourites…

Nan Bield

16km/10 Miles
Ride time: 3-4 hours
Why ride it? Awesome steep, techy singletrack and a big mountain feel
Where to eat? Wilfs, Staveley

There are plenty of high passes worth riding in the area, and all require a fair amount of effort before rewarding you with a scintillating descent. Nan Bield is one of our favourites, offering a big mountain day that really does have a bit of everything. From Sadgill (Landranger 97/NY483056) head N to climb the ride-able Gatesgarth Pass and drop down to the S tip of Haweswater. A singletrack leads SW from here, steeping radically at Small Water. It’s then a scramble with your bike to the top. Drop S all the way to the road and then follow a good track E to hurdle a final hill to finish.

Dunnerdale Fells

14km/9 Miles
Ride time: 2-3 hours
Why ride it? Far from the crowds and some great singletrack
Where to eat? Newfield Inn, Seathwaite

A lesser-visited corner of the park. And some fine natural singletrack – what is there not to like? Start in Seathwaite (Landranger96/SD229961) and follow the road N, before hooking up with the Walna Scar Road – a rocky track – which you take E over the 400m contour. A R here leads SW on a mix of rough mining tracks and faint singletrack that finally establishes itself as it approaches Stevenson Ground. More singletrack leads NW then S, looping around Stainton Ground to a major junction. Climb N into the col and enjoy the rubble and rock of an awesome final descent.

Lonsdale Fell

17km/10 Miles
Ride time: 2-3 hours
Why ride it? Awesome trails, remote scenery
Where to eat? The Sally Inn, Threlkeld

This is one our favourite short rides ever. It heads into some remote territory and provides a few good solid techy challenges as well as plenty of flow. And it’s easily accessed from the M6 for a quick leg stretch too. From Threlkeld (Landranger 90/NY318256) head up W past the Blencathra Centre and out into the Glendaterra Valley, dropping nicely to cross the beck. The climb out is tough but doable and ts into a singletrack trail at the top. Head S on this and enjoy techie ups and down culminating in a super-exposed step. It then loops W to the car park at Latrigg. Now drop SW into Keswick, and turn L then first L to follow the closed road through Brundholme Wood and on back to Threlkeld.

Borrowdale Bash

27km/17 Miles
Ride time: 3-5 hours
Why ride it? Awesome rocky technical trails
Where to eat? The Wainright, Keswick

A famously rocky Bash around the fells south of Keswick. It’s pretty techy in places, and there’s a fair bit of tarmac too, but boy what a loop. Probably best to start in Keswick (Landranger 90/NY265231) then you can warm up on the road that heads S to Watendlath. A rocky climb heads SW, straddling Grange Fell before dropping to Rosthwaite, where you winch your way up the Honister Pass. More rock and rubble then takes you north to Grange, where you continue N, around Catbells, to the finish.

Landales and Loughrigg

26km/16 miles
Ride time: 3-4 hours
Why ride it? Great all-weather riding
Where to eat? Bramble’s Café, Chapel Stile

It doesn’t look much on a map, but this is a belter. And it works in all weathers too. Park by the River Brathay
(Landranger 90/NY364032) and follow lanes W then S to Drunken Duck, then SW to Knipe Fold. Take the track N, cross the A593 and head W to Hodge Close. Continue W then SW to High Tilberthwaite then N to the road in Little Langdale. E into the village then NW to NY321040. N to the quarries and on to Chapel Stile. Now climb E to High Close, continue E around Loughrigg Terrace, then SE on permissive BW to the Caves. Continue E to the road at Rydal and head S to finish.