Skiddaw in the Lakes is the near definition of a classic ride, we've got two loops to try, one short and sweet and the other full-on for big days out

Skiddaw – The Lake District

Distance: 53.6km (33.3miles)

The Lakes in springtime, so good poets wax lyrical about it – and for good reason. A touch of snow on the fells, lambs in the field and hosts of dancing daffodils, spring is at its finest in Cumbria. Starting in Keswick this ride takes you on a tour around and through the hulking Skiddaw massif. It’s not going to put your tech skills to the test but it’s the near definition of a classic Lake’s ride and the perfect way to kick start the season. If you are after the best seat in the house and views aplenty then you can of course add in a push to the top of Skiddaw itself starting from the car park at Latrigg.

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Mini-Skiddaw

Distance: 17km (10 miles)

For a taster of the mighty Lake District, without the macho climbs and nerve-shattering descents, try this gem just above Keswick. It’s got a little bit of everything that makes the Lake District so special, but condensed into a handy, pint-sized loop. Think of it as dipping your toe into the shallow end of what the Lakes has to offer.

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For the technically adroit, look out for the ride’s signature move; a narrow ledge of rock above Glenderaterra Beck. If that’s a little racy for your tastes, walk the 10 metres or so and load up on smiles on the descent of Latrigg that follows (although beware of walkers and equestrians as this trail can get very busy).

From the July 2008 issue of MBR magazine.

If there was ever an award for the best short mtb route in the UK, this Lakeland classic would have to be a contender. It has a little of everything that makes riding worthwhile: from steep and testing rutted climbs to incredibly technical singletrack, made all the more demanding by a deadly drop to one side; and from fast and furious smooth-track descents to a couple of infuriatingly fiddly stream crossings. The whole thing is played out amongst some of Lakeland’s most magnificent scenery, and the surfaces are good enough to make for a clean round at just about any time of year, if your riding skills are up to the challenge.

The drop from Latrigg’s a cracker. But time it right for maximum fun and your own safety. Keep a vigilant eye open for the drainage gullies; they do a fine job of imitating speed humps on some of the turns.