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Claife Heights, an area of low fells lying west of Windermere, is an excellent venue for those new to mountain biking. Its tree-covered slopes are bisected by bridleways and tracks that are at no point difficult, but do provide great sport with climbs, short fast descents, fords, and a profusion of muddy pools. From Ambleside they can be easily accessed via the cycle lane off the A593 Coniston Road then by the pleasant lanes through Skelwith Fold, Low Wray and High Wray. To spice up the return journey a diversion can be made along the Blelham Tarn Bridleway that gives an excellent off road down hill run.
3 - 4 hours
1. Take the A593 Coniston Road out of Ambleside and follow it to Brathay to turn left on to the B5286 Hawkshead Road. Follow it South West then South East for 2.2km (ignoring the turning on the right for the Drunken Duck and Knipe Fold) to a junction. Take the left fork and follow it South East through to a junction at High Wray.
2. Turn right at the junction and follow the road 80m to the start of a bridleway on the left. Turn left on to the bridleway and follow it, as it climbs South towards the trees (Basecamp) then South East to Scab Moss. From Scab Moss the bridleway swings South then South West to High Moss.
3. High Moss is the start of the descent to Near Sawrey. The bridleway is followed generally South first near Wise Een Tarn then past Moss Eccles Tarn to a junction at (SD373962). Take the right branch which leads down to the road at Near Sawrey.
4. Turn left and follow the B5285 through Sawrey and down towards Lake Windermere. Just before you reach the ferry there is a turning on the left. Take this and follow the road and then track North alongside the western shores of Lake Windermere all the way to High Wray.
5. At High Wray ignore any turnings and follow the road West then South for Hawkshead. After 1.7km there is a junction. Turn right and follow Loanthwaite Lane West for 1.3km to join the B5286. Turn right on to it and follow it North to Outgate.
6. 200m on the right after Outgate is the start of the Blelham Tarn bridleway. It climbs briefly then gives a good long descent North West for 1.8km to join a road. Turn left on to the road and follow it North West to rejoin the B5286.
7. The B5286 is then taken North and followed all the way to the junction with the A593 at Brathay. Turn right on to the A593 and follow it back to Ambleside making use of the cycle land when you can.