If the roads of Eskdale are too tame then take to the fells! But first remember that one road out of Eskdale is probably the steepest road in England, rising from 94 metres to 393 metres in a distance of only 2 km. Hardknott Pass as it is named is a challenge, either up or down and can be included in a good road loop or as part of an off-road adventure. Here are 2 of my favourites:-

RIVER ESK ROUTE

This short but entertaining route can be started from anywhere between the King George and Wha House, it has with lots of tree roots, rocks and streams to negotiate, but with no steep hills it is ideal for beginners and as a warm up or evening ride. Starting from Dalegarth carpark, ride on tarmac upto Wha House Bridge, cross the bridge then take the bridle way off to the right. The first stream is soon reached and can usually be ridden through. The path continues into an oak wood then turns right over another stream and on down to Penny Hill Farm. At this point a track is reached which is followed upto Low Birker, watch out for the steep rocky accent just after the cottage. It is mainly down hill from here, splashing through several small becks and stopping to open a few gates until Stanley Gill is reached. This beck is quite deep and requires some skill (or luck to get through, if in doubt take the bridge. A track leads on through Dalegarth woods to a rocky descent just after a gate. The next section used to be narrow with lots of roots and puddles, but has now been flattened and made safe/boring. When Forge Bridge is reached turn right and follow the road back up to the start point.

Distance approx. 14km

This route can be extended down to Ravenglass and if the train is running the trip back is much quicker! More information is available including route cards and bike hire on the La'al Ratty Website

BURNMOOR TARN ROUND

This route uses the well known "Corpse Road" which is a track once used to carry coffins from Wasdale to the burial ground at St. Catherine's. Again this route may be started from anywhere along the valley. From the carpark in Eskdale Green the route begins with a steep accent up Giggle Alley followed by a quick descent into Mitredale, turn right up the valley and follow the road upto Low Place, keep on the left of the river upto Bakerstead then turn left up into the trees. Follow a steep grassy path through fields then out onto the fell, the path is still following the valley but is now well above the beck.

The route is narrow in places with some little steps and streams to cross. On a clear day the view gets steadily better as the path turns towards Wasdale and more height is gained. At some points the path may feel a little bit exposed. Do not drop all the way to Wasdale unless you fancy a pint! Instead turn right at Maiden Castle Cairn and head for Burnmoor Tarn, go round the left of the tarn then up the path and back towards Boot. This section is grassy at first but soon deteriorates as it starts to descend with rocky sections, boggy sections and some boggy rocky sections! The final descent into Boot is quite sharp with lots of rocks and eroded areas. From Boot ride back down the road to the starting point or you could go round the previously described route! Overall it is fun, muddy and not too strenuous.

 

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