2 - 4 hours
Ever since mountain biking started in the Lake District the welcoming network of trails through Whinlatter Forest Park have been popular with riders. Recent developments with the construction of the Altura and Quercus Trails have turned it into a world class facility. The two trails offer over 26km of dedicated off-road riding, providing routes suitable for both expert and beginner. The trails start at the well-serviced Whinlatter Visitor Centre which is located on the road towards the top of the Whinlatter Pass.
Lots of mountain bikers head to the forest park by car but if you are based in Keswick a much more pleasant approach is to cycle to Whinlatter Forest Park. The approach from Keswick is a combination of quiet lanes through neat Lakeland hamlets, a winding mountain pass and well-graded forest trails. The ride out and back is worth doing in its own right particularly if you are new to the area and want a low key expedition to get acquainted. Combined with the single track rides in Whinlatter Forest it makes an outstanding mountain bike adventure.
1. Head out of Keswick on the A591 (National Cycle Route 71) passing the Pencil Museum to a junction with the B5289. Turn left onto the B5298 (71) and follow it for 650m to a track on the left (71). Turn onto it and follow it over the River Derwent and into Portinscale.
2. Turn left (71) in Portinscale and follow the village road for 1.1km to a fork at Fawe Park. Turn right (71) through Ullock, then turn right again at a T junction and cross over Newlands Beck to a junction at Little Braithwaite. Turn right (71) and head into Braithwaite.
3. In Braithwaite turn left onto the B5292 and follow it as it climbs to the car park, on the left, just over the top of Whinlatter Pass.
4. From the car park join (National Cycle Route 71) and follow it along the forest track as it loops back and climbs through the trees. It then descends to rejoin the B5292 at Comb Bridge. Turn left and head up Whinlatter Pass for 250m to the entrance to the Visitor Centre on the right.
5. From the Visitor Centre you can either tackle one of the forest routes (Altura and Quercus Trails), or start your return to Keswick.
6. To return to Keswick follow (National Cycle Route 71) along forest tracks as it descends by Comb Beck to join the road at Thornthwaite. Turn right onto the road, then at the next junction take the left fork. Ignore the left turn immediately after it and head to a T junction. Turn right, crossing Comb Beck to a fork after 800m. Take the left branch which is then followed to Braithwaite.
7. From Braithwaite retrace your outward route back to Keswick.
|Time/Effort:||2 out of 5|
|Navigation:||1 out of 5|
|Technicality:||1 out of 5|
|Height gain/loss (metres):||670metres (2,198feet)|
|OS map:||OS Landranger 85 & 90, OS Explorer OL4|
- Start point: NY 265234 (near Keswick)