Going: The off-road track from Nibthwaite to High Cross is steep,
rough and badly eroded in places, good for other stretches. There is a section of deep
ruts which has to be negotiated before Low Parkamoor. Maximum height achieved is not far
short of 1000 feet - lots of care needed!
Total Distance: 14 miles (Nibthwaite start) ; 24.5 miles (Greenodd start).
If your mountain bike has never seen anything steeper than Abbey
Road (a main road in Barrow-in-Furness!), or rougher than Duke Street, give it (and
perhaps you) a shock with this adventure high above the east shore of Coniston Water. The
heart of the ride is a narrow loop from Nibthwaite, at the southern tip of the lake,
extending north all the way to High Cross, at the top of Hawkshead Hill. Around half of
the distance is off-road, with stunning views first to the Coniston Hills, and then to the
For the shortest outing start at Nibthwaite (parking at first car park ¾ mile after the village), whilst for a longer trip enjoy the east side of the Crake Valley from either Sparkbridge or Greenodd. Take the rising track to the right of the post box through the gate, and bear left onto a gradual ascent on a fairly good surface.
Just as the first clump of trees is reached, a glance over the wall will show an unremarkable ruined stone building this was once a gunpowder store, when this locally manufactured material was shipped down the lake.
Deep, muddy potholes apart, things are gentle enough until a steep third of a mile will have most people pushing, with some more easy going to follow. Then the serious ascent is reached, a ½ mile slog of broken, eroded surface, which finally emerges onto a flat terrace, 700 feet above the lake. Some tricky ruts apart, this section is to be savoured for its tremendous views.
As the abandoned farmhouse at Low Parkamoor is approached, take the track dropping away left, go through the gate, and climb on a grass surface past the lonely building. A height of almost 1000 feet is finally reached at an airy viewpoint opposite the Old Man, followed by a descent into the outer fringes of Grizedale Forest.
Keep ahead when a wide logging trail is joined, finally allowing some fast riding. At a staggered cross roads, take the left turn, using the green way-markers to guide you from now on. The outlook gradually changes, until you are opposite the bulk of Wetherlam, overlooking pastoral Yewdale. Watch out for the green trail ducking left by a pylon, and finally leave it where it turns sharp right.
Just ahead is the car park at High Cross, and the tarmac road. Turn left, and descend steeply, forking left part way down, by an ornate Victorian drinking fountain, to return along the east shore of the lake. This is an exhilarating, but challenging ride be properly prepared and take care!
Not many! Cafe at Brantwood on the tarmac road by the lake shore, and, er, that's it. What do you expect 1000 feet up a Cumbrian fell-side?
Are you up to this? The Low Parkamoor track close to the start of the flattish section, below Top o' Selside.
Coniston village, below the Old Man and Brim Fell, both hiding in the clouds.
Bulky Wetherlam, seen from the track approaching High Cross, at the top of Hawkshead Hill. The Yewdale fells lie in the foreground, with Yewdale itself a pastoral green below.
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.
Open Country Prints, Main Street, Baycliff, Ulverston, Cumbria
LA12 9RN, England