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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
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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