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The Lake District is famous as a mecca for walkers, but it is also fast becoming one of the England's premier destinations for cyclists of all abilities. You don't have to take your life in your hands and battle through the traffic, or try to find a quiet country lane and hope that there are no "boy racers" using it for rally practice. In the Lakes there are plenty of easy to use off road trails, ideal for beginners who want to experience the thrill of cycling but don't necessarily have the skills or desire to join in the more hair raising activities that the experienced mountain bikers enjoy so much.

If you are one of those experienced mountain bikers then there are a couple of trails that have been built with you in mind. The Altura Trail, in Whinlatter Forest Park is the longest purpose-built mountain bike trail in the Lake District. As the web site says, "The Altura Trail puts the mountain back into biking".


Built for experienced riders with good off road skills and a higher level of fitness and stamina, the trail is a 19 kilometre red grade mountain bike route which includes 15 kilometres of new single track. There are challenging single track sections and popular features like berms, jumps, rock features, skinnies, cork screws and table tops. (If you don't know what they are don't be put off, there is information about easier routes below.)

Trail riders can even hire a cycle head camera from the Whinlatter Cyclewise shop and video their experience. Cyclewise Whinlatter can be contacted on 017687 78711. A guide giving route and grading details should be read by all riders before attempting the trail for the first time. This is available at the Visitor Centre or Cyclewise Shop at the trail head. Alternatively, log on to the web site here and download a copy.


A little shorter, at 16 km, but apparently not much easier, is the North Face Trail at Grizedale Forest. The North Face includes 9 sections of sinuous singletrack trail on the west side of Grizedale Forest. One of the trails biggest advantages is that no walkers are allowed on to it, so there is no chance of non cyclists getting in the way. For more information about the trail, log on to the Grizedale forest website here.

For those looking for a somewhat gentler experience, there are a number of options. Grizedale forest is an excellent place for the whole family to enjoy the off road cycling experience in safety. There are 5 waymarked trails that lead the cyclist around the forest on forest roads and tracks. The shortest is just 2 miles whilst the longest is just over 10, so there is something to suit most abilities.

Bike Hire is available adjacent to the Grizedale Visitor centre, and there is a range of bike sizes as well as facilities for children.

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Lakes-breaks.com is a free website offering information about hotels, guest houses, attractions, activities and what's on in the Lake District National Park. For more information about Lkes -breaks .com click the about Lakes Breaks link above.