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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. The minor road down the west side of Esthwaite Water provides a handy and pleasant access route to Claife Heights.
Hawkshead - Lake Windermere - Near Sawrey - Hawkshead
2 - 3 hours
1. Head south out of Hawkshead on the minor road that skirts the west side of Esthwaite Water and follow past the Trout Fishery to a junction at (GR SD362952) and take the left fork which leads to Near Sawrey.
2. Turn right and follow the B5285 through Far Sawrey to the start of a minor road at (GR SD389955) near The Ferry House.
3. Turn left onto the track and follow it easily up the west shore of Lake Windermere till it joins the minor road just north of Belle Grange. Follow the minor road to a junction at High Wray. Turn left at the junction and follow the road 80m to the start of a bridleway on the left.
4. Turn left and follow the bridleway as it climbs south towards the trees then south east to Scab Moss. From Scab Moss the bridleway swings south then south west to Highs Moss.
5. 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 (GR SD373962). Take the right branch which leads down to the road at Near Sawrey.
6. Turn right then immediately left and return to Hawkshead via the minor roads on the west side of Esthwaite Water.