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
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.
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.
Full of her favourite things, the house looks like Beatrix has just stepped out for a walk. Don't miss the lovely cottage garden.
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.
Fly 200 metres across the top of the Grizedale Beck and marvel at the forest canopy from 18m up a Douglas Fir. Visit the website
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.
Discover the home of John Ruskin.
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.
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.
The spectacular voyage gives you views of mountain scenery, secluded bays and the delightful wooded islands.
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
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
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
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
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!
From the leaf-shaped door handles to the carved wooden panelling, Blackwell is an important icon of Arts and Crafts architecture. Visit the website