Claife Heights
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Going: Mainly off-road tracks, some a little rough here and there, but nothing too demanding. Good long descents in forest section.
Total distance: 7.5 miles, or start at Newby Bridge for a 21.5 mile round trip, via Cunsey.

    If Lake Windermere just brings images of ice-cream and crowds at Bowness to you, then you’ve not explored the western shore. A minor road runs north from near the Ferry Landing, below Far Sawrey, through the National Trust-owned Claife Estate, where there is access to the lake edge on tiny little beaches. Further on, it becomes a dirt track, a bit eroded here and there, but suitable for fairly gentle ambles through green woodland, cycling on until you feel like turning back.

    However if you want to try a circular ride, past little tarns with open views to the Langdale Pikes, and featuring a long descent on a forest track, have a go at this route. Starting from near the ferry, the bad news is a long hill straight away up to Far Sawrey, where a bridleway sign points towards Claife Heights. Turn off the tarmac surface at the next sign, and splash through the shallow ford, which very nearly unseated me!

    Keep ahead on the gradual ascent, rough in places, soon passing the tranquil Moss Eccles Tarn. Here Beatrix Potter spent hours fishing from a rowing boat, which is now in the Windermere Steamboat Museum.

    Through another gate, and the aspect suddenly opens over Wise Een Tarn, to a splendid vista towards the Langdale Pikes. This is a lovely serene place to linger a while, frequented only by those in the know, and a world apart from the throngs at Bowness. Press on along a grassy, rutted way, towards the trees ahead, where the track surface improves dramatically. After a sharp left-hand corner, always keep ahead on the main track, eventually sign-posted to Wray, ignoring all bridleways to left and right.

    A tarmac road is finally reached at High Wray, where a right turn leads quickly down a minor road to the right, which descneds steeply down to Lake Windermere. Here the wooded shoreline is followed all the way back to the Ferry Landing.

    These woods are the site of a local legend, that of the Claife Crier, the ghost of a Furness Abbey monk whose mission was to rescue fallen women. Love and rejection sent him mad, crying his anguish on Claife Heights, until his ghost was exorcised and the spirit confined to Claife quarry.

    If you fancy a longer outing, you can start as I did at Newby Bridge, heading out past Lakeside and Stott Park bobbin mill, until a right fork signposted to Cunsey is reached. This provides a very pleasant run to Sawrey, adding around 14 miles to the distance, but with another big hill to climb on the way back.

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Refreshment Possibilities
    Hotel at Near Sawrey.

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Wise Een Tarn, with the Langdale Pikes in the background.

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A glimpse of Lake Windermere against a background of fells above Ambleside.

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Lake Windermere, from the track along the western shoreline, above Ferry Landing.

        Web site for the Sawrey Hotel, with a bit more on the Claife Crier.

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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