Cycling around Hawkshead
YHA Hawkshead is a fantastic location for road and mountain bikers, be they novice, families or experienced.
The forest is a mecca for mountain bikers in the north west and YHA Hawkshead is located a mere three miles from its visitor centre and main car park. There are options to cycle from the hostel both on and off road and other car parks are also available.
The forest offers several easy to follow colour coded way-marked routes through the forest on wide tracks, many ideal for families. They are graded easy, moderate or difficult. For the more adventurous, there are also the single track options of the North Face Trail and the Black MTB trail.
Although in the forest, there are plenty of opportunities for wonderful views over the southern fells and Coniston and Esthwaite Waters.
The visitor centre has bike hire and a bike shop, a gift shop, children’s play area and a café serving drinks, sweet and savoury snacks and hot meals. There is a charge for parking but hostel staff can happily provide you with directions on how to get there on two wheels.
This is a fantastic website full of information about road, family, mountain and trail cycling. There’s a section on route guides with five routes in the Hawkshead area with route guidance and maps:
- Route 1 – Hawkshead to Claife Heights (medium, moderate – challenge, 15 miles)
- Route 2 – Hawkshead to Cunsey (medium, moderate – challenge, 14 miles)
- Route 3 – Hawkshead to Brathay (short, moderate – challenge, 10 miles)
- Route 4 – Hawkshead to Rusland Valley (medium, moderate – challenge, 19 miles)
- Route 5 – Hawkshead to Wray Castle (medium, easy – challenge, 12.5 miles)
Off-road to Ambleside
This route starts at Wray Castle where the Go Lakes Route 5 finishes. Turning right out of the castle entrance, follow the road for 500m downhill. Turn left at the blue cycle path sign and follow the well-surfaced tracks through open farmland and the wooded grounds of the Pullwood Estate. The path then takes the rider alongside the Ambleside-Hawkshead road into the centre of Ambleside. The full route from the hostel makes for a great day out when combined with a visit to Wray Castle, lunch in Ambleside or a continuation along the east side of Windermere and back to Hawkshead via the ferry.
British Cycling’s website offers a wealth of routes across the Lakes. Two routes in particular have been created from YHA Hawkshead’s front door. It’s free to register on their website and then search Hawkshead from the list.
Grizedale Good Bits is a tough 34km off-road route, taking in some of the best parts of Grizedale Forest and the east shore of Coniston Water with a total climb of 817m.
Bouth and Grizedale is a steady on road route of 32km heading south from Hawkshead on quiet lanes to the beautiful Rusland Valley with great views of the Lakeland fells on the return leg.
What makes it special
- Experience beautiful views of the Lakes
Other things to do nearby
The spectacular voyage gives you views of mountain scenery, secluded bays and the delightful wooded islands.
Here at Ambleside Climbing Wall there's an indoor climbing wall, bouldering room, and cafe. There's also a room dedicated to climbing gear, which can be hired.
Take in the scenic views and gardens down to the shores of Windermere. See the house first created by William Gaddum, a silk merchant from Manchester, as his family's 'summer house'. Brows
Go Ape has several locations across the UK where you can climb and fly through the trees. If it's adrenaline fuelled family fun you're after then look no further.
Full of her favourite things, the house looks like Beatrix has just stepped out for a walk. Don't miss the lovely cottage garden.
Watch otters swim from the underwater tunnel, stroll through the tropical rainforest and explore the seashore discovery zone.
Take a walk through Miss Potter's famous tales, complete with animatronics and walk-through scenes from her stories. Don't forget to exit through the gift shop!
Visit the barely-changed home of famous Romantic poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. You'll find plenty to inspire you in the museum too.
A range of information on local walks is available from the hostel - just ask at reception and our friendly staff will be able to recommend a great walk for you.
With Claife Heights right opposite, the hostel is a perfect base for exploring the area by mountain bike.
The Lake District was made for wild swimming and with this hostel right on the edge of England's largest lake, Windermere, it would be rude not to.
One of the most beautifully located theatres in England, hosting film and literary festivals throughout the year.
Cruise the lake stopping at the lakeshore jetties where you can change boats, or enjoy the 50 minute trip around Derwentwater.
The Altura Trail which puts altitude into mountain biking or there's a Go Ape! with it's high wire forest adventure course.
For underground tours and the popular Via Ferrata. Edge along ladders and bridges to reach a summit viewpoint over Buttermere. Visit the website
An 18 hole golf course offering a unique golfing experience - with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding Lakeland Fells.