Trail submitted by Jonathan Walkingshaw
This route is a gem but has hardly ever been used by mountain bikers, so expect some peculiar looks as you turn up in your Lycra. It starts from Sedbergh which is in the far east corner of Cumbria and the north west corner of the Yorkshire Dales National Park - confused yet? To top it off, Sedbergh has a Lancashire postcode!
Set off from Loftus Hill Car Park in Sedbergh (GR 658919) - It's free thanks to South Lakeland District Council, bless 'em! Head up the road towards the Church where the road takes a sharp left. Follow the road round and take the narrow right-turn after The Dalesman. This is Howgill Lane and it will lead you around the foot of the Howgills, follow it until it begins to straighten out and heads north. An even narrower lane forks left, opposite this is an access lane for Birkhaw Farm, take this lane and head past the farm following a bridleway through a number of fields to the foot of the open fell.
Here the bridleway takes a left round to Bramrigg Beck. The bridleway crosses the beck and climbs a fairly direct and sustained line to Bramrigg Top. Breate deeply, there isn't much oxygen up here. The views are great and the bald nature of the Howgills gives a real feeling of exposure, I love that sort of thing, but you're probably more interested in where to go next, so I'll continue. At Bramrigg Top you take the right turn which heads across a nice, fast, but short dip to Calders. The path is wide and gravely and very fast, keep an eye out for the bunny hop in the bottom of the dip. As you rise to Calders swing right again towards Arant Haw.
Now the section needs something of an introduction, it's not the sort of thing you want to throw yourself down without a little care. The path is, at first, pitched with a few gutters, it deserves a little care and some concentration not least because it has a serious switch-back taking you left. At this point the entire right side is exposed and drops steeply, so be careful! The path also begins to widen and turn into grass, so forget braking, it ain't going to help. My advice is ride it fast and be prepared to do some serious bunny hopping to avoid the pocks and gutters created by years of walkers. If you do this you won't be disappointed! This section is amazing, ideal for the adrenaline junkie! At the bottom you'll probably pause to giggle manically and exchange stories of near death with your bikin' buddies before continuing up a short, gravely rise towards Arant Haw.
As you come over the rise a view of your descent line opens up in front of you. Descending relatively gently at first you need to keep pedalling to speed things up a little. There are plenty of little obstacles to provide interest along the way. The route then begins to steepen and a couple of hidden drop offs are introduced, they're not super high, but at speed they're enough to throw you from your stead! Eventually the track begins to level, ignore the left turn and continue to the summit of Winder.
This next section is beautiful. It's a fast, grassy descent with a couple of nice long bends before reaching a farm gate. The grass makes it really interesting as it's impossible to slow down, but fear not, the gate will stop you if your brakes don't! Go through the gate and follow the short, rocky descent back to Howgill Lane. Heading left towards Sedbergh and the car you should have something of a grin on you face. If you're hungry try the White Rose chippy, it's really good. But whatever you do, don't tell anyone about the ride, it's one of Cumbria's best kept secrets!
Small Print: No author nor the editor shall bear any responsibility for any mishap, injury, death or other incident or inconvenience suffered whilst riding any of the routes described. Anybody following any such route does so entirely at their own risk. Anybody wishing to ride on footpaths or other non-permitted routes does so entirely by their own risk.