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Claife Heights MTB Route, Hawkshead, Cumbria.
Time 2 hour Distance 18.07 miles Map(1:25) OS Outdoor Leisure 7 Quality 6/10 Difficulty 4/10 Fun Value 8/10 Ascent 1017ft Terrain low lying fells Surface Roads, Bridleways, Single track

This route involves some on road riding and a lot of off roading, the starting point is somewhere in Ambleside, in fact anywhere in Ambleside where you can park your car it just does not matter especially if you are staying there already. Once you are ready and have made sure you have your butties packed, take the A593 out of Ambleside towards Clappersgate, upon reaching Clappersgate you need to take the first junction on the left Grid Ref 366034 towards Hawkshead. On the B5286 which is a fair size road that twists through some great country side, it has some gentle uphill and some great down hills to keep you occupied while wait for the real riding, stick with the B5286 ignoring all turn off's until you reach Outgate, Grid Ref 3599. Take the bridleway that is just before the sign Grid Ref 355999 and have a bit of fun across the fields. However remember there is livestock in the fields so shut the gates and donít make to much noise, especially if you come across some cows!

The turn off for the first bridleway at Outgate   The bridleway at Outgate   A deceptive part of the Outgat Bridleway

Most of this bridleway is across some fields but the first bit contains some cool downhill, the track is loose broken slate that is quite gnarly and fun, but the track is wide enough to get up some real speed and trash the competition. At one point the track goes through a stream that can be a little deceptive, and may well throw you off balance if you hit a submerged rock.

At the finish of the bridleway you come out onto a road know as the Wray road Grid Ref 370004, go right down a little bank and then climb the bigger bank on the other side of the dip at Low Wray, at the top of the bank you will pass the entrance to Wray Castle, a National Trust Property which use to be a Merchant Navy college but is no more. Eventually you will reach High Wray, you need to look out for and follow a sign on your left that points the way to a place called Base camp, no not the Everest one. You are now on a large dirt track which leads up into the forest, you need to follow this track for some way but it is anything from boring, please note you will come to a locked gate on this track but there is a small gate at the side, that you can get through. This forest is littered with lots and lots of bridlewayís and fire roads so if you do go off track you probably will not get into trouble for been on a footpath or anything, but there is not much scope for error in the first part of this section. Your first junction is at Grid Ref 374989 you need to take the higher track on the right, which will scoop around, sharply into an uphill blast. This shortly becomes a quick downhill to a big junction at Grid Ref 375987 make sure you go directly ahead or you will miss out on a monster downhill.

Up in the forest section you will find this great bit of downhill.    A tricky section of track on Claife Heights   One of the Tarns on Claife Heights

As you head back uphill again the forest becomes a lot more denser than before and you soon hit upon another junction, this time turn right into a steep uphill, at the top the level of the land evens out but the ground is rather rocky with big pits of gravel to go ploughing through. By now you should of come to a gate with some strange bits attached to it donít ask me what it is about, but on the other side the forest opens out into Claife Heights from here you can see some of the tarns and the very distinct track, the first section of which is some very fast down hill, that ends in the track becoming flatter and more enclosed.

Then there is more downhill that will take you down to Far Sawrey, but as the track twists and turns and also quite steep you can test yourself to the limits, if you want. Eventually the track flattens out and splits at Grid Ref 372962 the left hand branch takes you to Near Sawrey, but we are taking the right hand branch to Far Sawrey which has no real complications except for a small stream which looks very shallow and unimposing, which it is but I have still seen a number of people fall of as they ride through it, the only reason as to why is I think that they ride too far to the right and hit some large stones which throw them off, but it might not be, I just donít know OK.

As soon as you hit the main road turn left to the pub and a little way past the pub you will find another bridleway at Grid Ref 379954 this has markers that will take you across an excellent route back down to the lake. I will not describe the route just go up there and do it you will not be disappointed, but your hands will hurt a lot by the time you reach the track along the lake at Grid Ref 387970. The shoreline track you are now on will take you all the way along the side of the lake to Red Nab at Grid Ref 385994 where you can choose whether to head back to Wray Castle via the side of the lake (right hand route) or by road (left hand route) its your choice, just choose one of them. The route back to Ambleside is a simple one, just follow the Wray road until the junction with the B5286, which will then take you back to Clappersgate, and the A593 from Clappersgate to Ambleside.

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