Tag Archives: lake district

Grizedale forest mountain biking – extended mix

Grizedale Forest Mountain Biking
View from Grizedale Forest

This was part of a Lakes camping trip.

A lot of riders don’t think much of the North Face trail at Grizedale.  e.g.: “pretty crap and dull TBH, got to the end and nearly asked for my car park money back,” (from Singletrack forum). Now I don’t think it’s that bad a route though it wouldn’t be my first recommendation for the area. The volunteer built trails at Gisburn or the superior centre at Whinlatter would be the first trail centres I’d suggest visiting.

It wends its way round the forest in typical trail centre style. After the initial climb it’s quite flat and it’s quite hard to work out where that height is given back as descent. It does have a fair amount of wooden board walks and a few bits of rock here and there. There’s nothing startling about it, agreed.

What it is needs is an extended remix. Take ingredient A: a slightly tired trail centre. Add ingredient B: some old school natural trails from Jame’s guide book. Mix them together. Whip it. Shake it. Stir it. Bake for 2 hours at gas mark 5. What do you end up with? A natural route with some bits of trail centre in it.

Grizedale Forest natural mtb trails.
Water inside camera again?

Only James and myself had the enthusiasm left for pedalling around after several days of rain. We parked at the Grizedale centre and set off on the bridleway east. After a steep climb this fairly wide track levelled off and then lead to a surprisingly fun descent. We’re talking rocks and drops on a gradual track descent. A road link lead to another climb and descent. A less interesting section between the saw mills and Dale Park.

It was worth it for the Breasty Haw descent. I was giggling like a girl by the bottom of this. A brilliant descent down a twisty track in a deep rock cutting with steps and jumps. We carried on giggling at the Old Breasty Haw sign.

Old Breasty Haw
Haw haw haw.
Natural descent in Grizedale Forest
Final bridleway descent.

After this we joined the North Face trail and followed that to its highest point. Then we turned west down a bridleway into the Coniston valley. This was long and flowing rather than steep. The descent was followed by a big climb back up to the trail.

We followed the trail almost to the end and then turned right up a big track climb to the top of the woods. Here we took another gem of a bridleway descent. This was quite steep and strewn with rocks and steps.

Finally we linked back onto the North Face trail via a track climb.

Verdict: an interesting ride that adds rocky bridleways to a so-so trail centre.

39km (24 miles), approx 1100m. gpx file

Grizedale Forest extended mix mtb map

Back to the Lakes camping trip.

The Borrowdale bash

View over Derwent Water

This was part of a Lakes camping trip.

The Borrowdale bash is a well know mountain biking route (route guide on Keswick.org, Singletrack forum, Westmorland Gazette). It does a clockwise loop round Derwent water near Keswick, home of the world famous Pencil Museum….. I need to sharpen up my comedy skills….what was the point of this? The museum was featured in the dark comedy “Sightseers“. That is worth seeing.

We knocked this route off in a few hours over the afternoon. The photographs show that we had some sun for once. Flat road from Keswick, then a steep climb up a lane, then a steep track track that eventually leads to a really good descent down tricky rocks. Just keep moving and stop thinking.

Borrowdale bash descent

Borrowdale bash descent.

The rocks dump you back at ground level in Rosthwaite from which there’s another road climb, in our case some route faffing and then another great rocky descent back to the edge of the lake. Joe had an off down here – too much speed.

The final hill leads to a much smoother track descent. This one has a load of drainage bumps which also work as tidy jumps. Win win.

Rocky descent in Lake District
Second descent.

Borrowdale Bash MapOverall I’d rate this a route that’s well worth doing and it stays near civilisation the whole time too.

28km (17 miles), 900m of ascent.

Gpx file.

Back to the Lakes camping trip.

Keswick pencil museum.
Pencil museum.

Lake District MTB trip

Lake District camp site
Camp site.

This was a trip to the Lake District organised by MBSwindon. We stayed at Baysbrown farm camp site. I’d ridden past this years ago and remember nothing apart from an empty field. That’s pretty much what it is. I suppose that’s pretty much what any camp site is. There was a farm at the end with pretty good washing facilities and inquisitive hens that wandered around.

I have a very complicated love-hate relationship with camping. I think I hate it. Then when I do it I quite enjoy it. If the weather is really bad then it starts to appeal to my determination to survive, so even though I should be hating it I enjoy it. So, I actually quite like it. But I hate it in principle. I resent the amount of exertion that’s required before you can even start doing anything like riding. I’d much rather stay in B&B. This time Kate told us that we should camp, so we did.

I’d bought myself an exciting new tent to try out – a Wild Country Aspect 2.5. My old tent was knackered and people were tiring of me saying that I was about to replace it. I bought it because the reviews said it was light, had good head room and it could withstand high winds. Remember that last point.

Inquisitive chickens.
Inquisitive chickens.

Now, one thing I really noticed about our camping trip was that the wind blew strongly pretty much the whole time I was there. Oh, and it rained a bit too and then hail stones. We’d brought the club gazebo along as a group tent. We had a lot of trouble with the wind pulling the guy ropes out of the ground and shaking the frame around. Every day we spent time putting rocks on the edges and pushing the pegs back in.

Half of our party went home after the first night because they broke their bike and there were no spares in the county. I suspect that the weather might have had something to do with it.

Camp site view.
Camp site view.

Now, this post might appear to be a big downbeat about the trip. But that would be wrong. We did three great rides before abandoning the area and the sun shone on one of them. Pretty much every bridleway we rode had something to offer. Rocks, steps, drops and ramps, wooden boards. The Lake District has some stunning views too.

We did the classic Borrowdale Bash, a very wet Walna Scar ride  and a Grizedale forest extended mix that turned the much criticised trail into something a lot more interesting.

We walked to the Britannia Inn every evening for beer (or sparkling water) and food. We were there one night and thought it would be very amusing to post on Facebook that “we thought the gazebo could probably be fixed with a bit of luck”. Oh how we laughed.

Camp site disaster.
Camp site disaster.

We awoke on the final morning to find that the wind had ripped the gazebo out of the ground and dumped it upside down in the next field. It had pulled a peg out of the ground along with a lump of mud the size of a football. The gazebo has an complicated Aluminium frame to support it and the impact had twisted that. It was pretty clear that it was now scrap. Our little joke post didn’t seem quite so amusing now. That’s pubs for you.

Broken gazebo.
Broken gazebo.

Now, I’m knocking the camp site. It’s more the weather and that endless wind. Blame the Lake Disctrict for that and camping in general. I have a very amusing photograph of Kate in the gazebo but I’ve been banned from ever posting it up. If you saw it you would definitely laugh. It captures perfectly the cold, wet, miserable part of camping. The good news is that for our next trip the word is “let’s not camp”.

Route summary: