Cycling around Hawkshead


YHA Hawkshead is a fantastic location for road and mountain bikers, be they novice, families or experienced.

Grizedale Forest
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.

Go Lakes
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:

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
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

Hostels nearby

Cycling around Hawkshead

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Map references

Lat/Lng: 54.361683, -2.994734

Contact information

Other things to do nearby

Mountain biking

Mountain biking in Hawkshead

Set off down the bridleway from the back of the hostel to join Grizedale forest which offers hundreds of different routes for mountain bikers of all abilities.


Watersports in Hawkshead

Only five miles from Windermere, you can try your hand at anything from a lake cruise through to wind surfing, kayaking and canoeing. If you feel the need for speed you can even hire a power boat.

Beatrix Potter Hill Top

Hill Top (Beatrix Potter)

Full of her favourite things, the house looks like Beatrix has just stepped out for a walk. Don't miss the lovely cottage garden.

tying shoelace

Walking and Rambling in Hawkshead

A short walk from the hostel takes you to the highest point in the area, Latterbarrow, where there's a huge eight foot high trig point and stunning views of the whole of Lake Windermere.

Go Ape

Go Ape Grizedale

Fly 200 metres across the top of the Grizedale Beck and marvel at the forest canopy from 18m up a Douglas Fir. YHA members get 10% off outdoor adventures with Go Ape (all activities and locations,

Go Ape

Go Ape

Go Ape has several locations across the UK where you can climb and fly through the trees.



Discover the home of John Ruskin.

Tom Ghyll (or Gill) waterfalls on way to Tarn Hows

Tom Ghyll Waterfalls

Tom Ghyll (or Gill) is a lovely stream with two waterfalls. A trail runs alongside the stream and the path then leads up to Tarn Hows. Start at the Car Park on the A593 by Glen Mary Bridge.

Canoeing & sailing on Windermere

Watersports in Windermere

Enjoy an afternoon on England's largest natural lake. There's a watersports centre on the shore of Windermere, only three miles from the hostel.

Windermere Lake Cruises

Windermere Lake Cruises

The spectacular voyage gives you views of mountain scenery, secluded bays and the delightful wooded islands.

Steam Yacht Gondola on Coniston Water

Steam Yacht Gondola

The gondola is the perfect way to view Coniston's spectacular scenery. Sail to Monk Coniston jetty and then walk to Tarn Hows. View the Yacht's National Trust website

Coniston Launch Cruises

Coniston Cruises

Enjoy a beautiful boat cruise on Coniston Water, staying on the boat for the full cruise or getting off at a jetty to explore.  Or just use the service as a ferry to get between where the differe

Coniston Boating Centre, view of jetties

Coniston Boating Centre

To see Coniston Water and the stunning fells hire a motor boat, canoe, rowing boat or sailing boat and explore. Take a break at the Bluebird Café right on the edge of Coniston Water. Visit the w

Couple canoeing up a river

Watersports in Coniston

This lovely area is great for water sports, so whatever mode of water transport takes your fancy, take the plunge and enjoy some fun on, or in, the water! Gorge scrambling in Church Beck is on the


The World of Beatrix Potter

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!

Blackwell Arts & Crafts House exterior

Blackwell, The Arts & Crafts House

From the leaf-shaped door handles to the carved wooden panelling, Blackwell is an important icon of Arts & Crafts architecture. Visit Blackwell's website