Mountain biking in the Lake District is an experience like none other. With high mountain peaks, rocky ground, steep descents, and forest paths, there are challenges galore and lots of thrills to be had.
Take a look of our pick of the top places to go mountain biking in the Lake District: whether you’re an experienced rider or just starting to find your balance, there’ll be something for you.
Note: this guide is intended as a brief summary of the routes. Please make sure you check conditions and skill level required before you take them on. You should also have all appropriate equipment for all trails.
Whinlatter Forest is particularly famous for its excellent red-graded Altura Trail, which is the longest purpose-built mountain bike trail in the Lake District. Created for bikers with a good level of skill, it’s divided into two loops and boasts glorious views of Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite Lake, Skiddaw and Helvellyn.
Alternatively, the Quercus Trail is blue-graded and runs through beautiful oak woodland, or the mountain biking orienteering trail gives you a different twist on a normal ride and is perfect for families.
You can bring your own bike or hire one from Cyclewise in the forest park (discount available for guests with Sally's Cottages).
Take a look at our cottages near Whinlatter Forest.
If you’re after a real challenge, with amazing views and adrenaline-pumping descents, then Helvellyn could be for you. Only suitable for very experienced riders, this trail takes you up the Lake District’s third highest mountain at over 3,000ft!
As you might imagine, the ascent is pretty hard going up Sticks Pass, but it’s worth it for the incredible views and an amazing ride back down via Dollywagon Pike and Grisedale – probably the best on our list!
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The Duddon Valley should be on every mountain biker’s bucket list and yet is one of the most overlooked areas of the Lake District. Slightly more remote than some of the most popular areas of the national park, it’s over the fells from Coniston and south of Eskdale.
The mountain biking trail through and above the Duddon Valley is fairly short with some great rocky patches, the challenging Walna Scar, and some fantastic technical descents. Don’t forget to make a few stops to take in the beautiful, unspoiled scenery of the area, and stop off for a pint at The Newfield Inn in Seathwaite at the end of your ride.
Take a look at our cottages in the Duddon Valley.
Between Coniston Water and Windermere in the South Lakes, Grizedale offers another brilliant selection of forest trails. Several Forest Road tracks are suitable for younger wannabe mountain bikers, while the red-graded North Face MTB Trail is good for intermediate riders. If you want to really test your skills, The Black MTB Trail is a short but invigorating route that takes in jumps, berms and hair-raising descents.
Mountain bikes can be hired at Grizedale Forest.
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Loughrigg fell sits towards the southern end of Grasmere. The terrace, at the base of the fell, takes in lovely views of the lake and is covered in bluebells in the spring. It can be busy with walkers, especially during school holidays, but there are extensions to the ride that are much quieter than you’d expect for such a popular part of the Lake District.
You could do something as simple as a linear route along the terrace, or expand it to take in Ambleside, Elterwater, and the Langdale Valley. Whichever you choose, make some time to appreciate the views, which are spectacular in this area known as ‘Wordsworth Country’.
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Borrowdale and Derwentwater
You’ll begin by following the road along the eastern edge of Derwentwater before taking off up to Ashness and down again through Rosthwaite and Seatoller. At the bottom of the iconic Honister Pass, you’ll head back north, between Derwentwater and Catbells, before looping back to Keswick.
Keswick has several places where you can hire mountain bikes.
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Burnmoor Tarn and Miterdale
From the tiny hamlet of Boot in Eskdale, you can head up to atmospheric Burnmoor Tarn, which seems miles away from anything. Turning left, you can follow the River Mite down a narrow exposed track that takes in the best rugged terrain of this part of the national park. You can return by the road once you get back into Eskdale, or continue over Irton Fell into Wasdale, before looping back to Boot again via Burnmoor Tarn.
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The area around Coniston has several excellent mountain biking trails, and one of the best is a beautiful loop right around the lake. Starting off with an uphill challenge on the Walna Scar Road, you’re rewarded with a fantastic panorama at the top. This route takes in part of Grizedale Forest, which we’ve mentioned above, but has a very different character and better, long-reaching views.
Mountain bikes can be hired from Coniston Boating Centre.
Browse our Coniston cottages.
Ullswater and Moor Divock
This figure eight route takes in Lakeland’s prettiest lake, Ullswater, along with remote moors, craggy mountains, and rolling hills. It’s a varied and interesting landscape that doesn’t require too much skill, and the ascents are neither too long nor too steep.
From Pooley Bridge, at the northern edge of Ullswater, head up onto Moor Divock and the Cockpit Stone Circle. After a descent and ride to Askham, you’ll cross back over Moor Divock and head towards Howtown, where you can follow the lake all the way back to Pooley Bridge. Or, if you’re tired by the time you get to Howtown, you could even catch an Ullswater Steamer back!
You can hire bikes in Pooley Bridge from Arragon’s Cycle Hire.
Look through our cottages in Ullswater.