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The flanks of Clough Head and Matterdale Common at the northern end of the Helvellyn range are crossed by the Old Coach Road. This old track links Dockray with St John's in the Vale and provides an exciting high-level mountain bike route. The riding is a combination of moderate technical challenges with some fantastic descents. It also benefits from wide ranging views of both Skiddaw and Blencathra. The best way to do it is to ride it from East to West accessing the start near Dockray from Keswick via the Keswick Railway Cycle Track and the network of minor roads around Scales, Wallthwaite and Troutbeck. After the Old Coach Road a pleasant return to Keswick can be made by road with a visit to the stone circle at Castlerigg. Terrain Cycle track, main road, lanes, high exposed moorland and low fells.
5 - 6 hours
1. From the Keswick Leisure Pool car park follow the Railway Cycle Track E to the A66 to then pick up the minor road into the centre of Threlkeld. At the T junction turn R and continue E past the pub then turn L on Fell Side Road which is followed down to the cycle track by the side of the A66.
Follow this to Scales.
2. Continue on the A66 for 200m until opposite the Wallthwaite turning.
Cross the A66 (with care - extremely busy) and turn R onto it, follow the lane E for 1km to a junction (second turning). Turn R and head S into Wallthwaite. The road turns a corner E in Wallthwaite and is then followed E again for 3.5km to the A5091. Turn R and follow the A5091 S then SE for 3.3km to a fork. Take the R branch and follow it SW as it climbs up Binks Moss to a cross-roads near High Row.
3. This is the start of Old Coach Road. Start along it from the gate opposite the top of the minor road from Dockray and follow it W for 7.2km.
Generally the going is easy but there are some boggy sections and a couple of climbs. The last 3.2km section down to the B5322 at Wanthwaite is steep and very fast.
4. Turn R onto the B5322 then turn immediately L and follow the road over St John's Beck to a junction. Turn R and follow the road as it winds its way NW for 1.25km to another junction. Turn L for 200m to yet another junction and then turn L again. Follow the road round in a loop to cross Naddle Beck then take the first L for Castlerigg Stone Circle. The road is followed as it climbs SW to the stone circle and then followed W down to Keswick where you join the main road which is followed into the town centre.