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Going: A fairly hilly outing, but with no prolonged ascents. The bridleway section is easy apart from an awkward section in the middle, two or three hundred yards long.
Total distance: 14 miles.

    For Lakes chocolate-box views per mile, there’s not much to beat a circuit around Grasmere and Rydal Water. Following minor roads and a bridleway, this route mixes with traffic for just a short distance. Don’t be put off by the lateness of the year – there are some wonderful autumn colours around now.

    A start is made at Skelwith Bridge, by the Elterwater turn-off, heading uphill on a narrow lane. And right at the start, there’s a slope with attitude! Soon levelling, little Loughrigg Tarn appears, below the low fell of the same name.

    Bear right onto a road lined with mature broadleaf trees, to eventually make a steep descent towards Grasmere. Here’s another lovely view, over the lake and up to Heron Pike and Helvellyn beyond.

    Arriving in the village, a worthwhile detour can be made into Easedale, where the aptly-named Sourmilk Gill can be seen tumbling down in the distance. Cross the main Keswick road to Town End, passing the new Wordsworth museum, and plug uphill until a bridleway points towards Alcock Tarn and Rydal.

    Bear right at the corner, and then follow this all the way to Rydal Mount. Most of it can be ridden, apart from two or three hundred yards in the middle. Fine views open up over Rydal Water, again overlooked by Loughrigg.

    Back on tarmac, drop down the hill, and pick up the narrow lane almost opposite to Ambleside, a cyclist’s delight by the tumbling River Rothay. Here the signs point to Skelwith Bridge, but bear off the main road left for a much more pleasant return alongside another river, the Brathay.

    A genuine surprise view awaits on a corner at Skelwith Fold, with a panorama centered on the Langdales, every feature picked out on a slate plaque set in a stone wall. Then it’s on down the hill back to the start.

    This is my last ‘On yer bike’ contribution – after thirty-eight columns since February, it’s time to hang up the cycle clips! I hope a few people have been inspired to try some of the rides, and have enjoyed them as much as I did.

    The rides I didn’t write about? The one I really wanted to include, but didn’t think fit for a family newspaper was the Ulpha - Dunnerdale – Eskdale triangle, taking in Hardknott Pass. Every cyclist should aspire to this 1 in 4 up and down epic, if only for the disbelieving gapes of motorists already ‘frit’ by those horrendous zig-zags!

    Abiding image of the year? The guy at the 1300ft Hardknott summit, celebrating his 60th birthday with a fifty-mile circular bike ride, happily munching his sandwiches. Take heart!

Grasmere Map.jpg (19684 bytes)

Refreshment possibilities
    Plenty at Grasmere and Ambleside, and a pub at Skelwith Bridge.

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Loughrigg Tarn Pict0022.jpg (39969 bytes)

Lougrigg Tarn, below the fell of the same name.

Grasmere Pict0028.jpg (34138 bytes)

Grasmere, seen from the narrow lane above the western side.

Brathay Pict0032.jpg (41817 bytes)

The River Brathay, next to the road to Skelwith Fold.

Any comments on the cycling pages would be gratefully received!

 Copyright J Chambers 2005. Unauthorised reproduction not allowed. May be printed for personal use only.

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