The Steeps of the South Lake District

Distance: 64 miles
Climbing: 1900 meters
Ride Time: 3 hrs 40 mins (very fit) / 4 hrs 30 mins-6 hrs (weekend rider)

All on road.

This is a challenging road ride along the quiet lanes of South Lakeland. It circumnavigates Grizedale Forest, being almost entirely in the Lake Listrict National Park. There are fantastic views over Coniston Water, Lake Windermere, Morecambe Bay, Esthwaite Water, the Lakeland fells and in the distance the central mountain mass of the lake district.

As with all the other rides this starts from our base in Lowick Green (LA12 8DX) where there is free parking for the duration of the ride. A quick two-mile warm up before the first climb of Bessy Bank, a twisting lane with 17% gradients to test the legs. After a twisty descent into Rusland we head south for a few miles of undulating lanes then along a mainly flat coastal road leading to Flookburgh, where a sharp left in the village takes us into the lost valley heading towards Field Broughton.

Here we cross the A590 by bridge into Newton before climbing again over Cartmel Fell into the Lyth Valley, following the valley floor and eventually arriving at Bowland Bridge, where a sharp left takes us onto the climb of Gummers Howe. This climb has very sharp steep corners of 12% with an average gradient of 7%.

The views at the top are worth the effort with a 360 degree view over Lake Windermere, Morecambe Bay and the central Lake District mountains. A tricky descent drops us into Newby Bridge where we cross the river Leven on the old Coach Road bridge. We head north via Lakeside following the shore of Lake Windermere to High Wray, where a steep short climb tests the legs and lungs. On To Hawkshead, over the long drag up Hawkshead Hill before a fast descent into Coniston. Keeping left we head South towards Torver, along the Torver straights, before a very undulating section heading towards Broughton -in Furness. (There is an option here to keep going into Broughton to stop for a cafe break at the Square Cafe.) Whichever route is decided on the infamous Subberthwaite common climb awaits with a long uphill climb of 15% sections – but mainly 10% – a real test when 50 miles into the ride! But a really fast wide straight descent on the main road is the delight to end this ride as you speed back to Lowick at breakneck speed which can exceed 40 mph!

Bring your towel and you can have a complimentary shower before a brew and a cake to restore some of the calories used in this testing ride.

There are lots of opportunities to break for cafe stops along this ride. I recommend the Square Cafe in Broughton, the Mallard Cafe in Cartmel, the Crown Inn in Newton, the Bluebird Cafe overlooking the shores of Coniston Water. There are also lots of cafes in Hawkshead to choose from, as well as the Station at Lakeside and the Church House in Torver – one of the few traditional Lakeland pubs remaining.

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