Ullswater Loop

Trail submitted by James Southworth


This is a great ride which is not too long, just right for an afternoon or long evening. There are no huge climbs, just a few short sharp testers. Don't be fooled though, after riding this you may know about it! Some sections can get rather wet in the more wintery months, but don't let that put you off! The ace singletrack more than makes up for it.


Start from Pooley Bridge, and head out of the village on the B5320, away from the lake. At the mini roundabout at the north east end of the village, take the exit on your right. Go straight ahead at the cross-roads, and follow this road up to the trail head. Go through the gate, and climb up onto Barton Fell. After climbing for a few minutes you will see a well surfaced track on your right, follow this until you see a small stone circle on your left. At the stone circle, ford the beck on your right and ride along the gully of boulders which looks like a river bed. Now comes a grassy track with some hardpack sections and ruts, which is as fast as you want it to be. After fording another beck, take the steep climb up the gully to the right. Keep to the right, following a wall which contours along the hillside.

Eventually you will drop down to a five bar gate by a house. Get off and walk through the yard. Look out for a gate on your left, and follow this trail down to a beck. After crossing it, bear right on the road, and head down towards Howtown. Turn left at the end of the road, then grind up the tarmac switchbacks of Martindale Hause. (For the less masochistic there is a bridleway to avoid this, but I've never checked it out. After crossing the beck mentioned previously, you should see it across the road on your left). Once at the top of the climb, keep on the brakes down the other side as you will soon need to make a right turn (signposted 'Sandwick'). Then, take a sharp right (signed 'Sandwick' again - look out for a glitzy signpost) to get to the next off road section. This is signposted 'Patterdale' on your left, heading up a grassy bank. Follow another 'riverbed' trail to your left, and after crossing another beck you will bear sharp left up a steep hill.

At the top of the hill, STOP AND PUT YOUR SEAT DOWN! Trust me, you will enjoy this trail a whole lot more if you do! The trail will now drop to your right, this is where the real fun starts! MBR magazine rated this trail as one of the most technical bridleways in the UK. All of the descents are rideable, but unless you are the next Hans Rey you WILL have to get off and push up one or two of the climbs. Highlights include rock steps and drops, steep slabs, boulder fields, gullies etc. - if you love rocks this is tops! Eventually the trail will smoothen out and become wide enough for a car, between two drystone walls - it is now OK to put your seat up again! Walk through the farmyard, bearing right towards Patterdale down a hardpacked drive. Turn right when you reach the road, and spin back to Pooley Bridge by the lake.

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.

7 reviews...

  1. GravatarAndy Wilkinson from Eston said: August 3rd, 2009
    Loved the Round trip from Pooley bridge and Back , I found the rock path and slabs etc a bit much ..spent most of the time off the bike!!!But would deffo go at it again, think we clocked 21 miles round trip back to park foot caravan park.
  2. GravatarMark from Carlisle said: July 6th, 2010
    I have been out to this area three times now in attempt to complete this route. I am, however, finding it rather difficult to follow. I have made to Patterdale from Pooley Bridge and then back on the road but I don't think I have been following the correct route. It would be great if a .gpx or .kml could be made available so that I could follow it on my satnav. Thanks for putting this route on, though; it is a great website!
  3. GravatarJames from Askham said: July 25th, 2010
    I live just on the other side of Barton Fell in Askham and I frequent this trail almost every weekend. I ride up onto the plains with all the trails on every night, and sometimes venture up onto Low Pot and High Street if I'm feeling like a good trek out.One of the best trails I've ever ridden in terms of mountain biking. Long, downward gradient slopes are a dream and the uphill struggles aren't TOO demanding. All in all, 5/5 for this trail, would really recommend it!
  4. GravatarGuest from Matterdale said: August 18th, 2010
    Worth doubling back over Boredale Hause (tough climb) and then down into Martindale instead of roadie back to Pooley. More interesting but you have to do the "start" bit twice. Another good alternative is to ride up Loadpot etc from Pooley, then descend down to Hartsop, and do the lakeshore BW back to Pooley (i.e. reverse of James' description).
  5. GravatarRob said: September 14th, 2010
    Loved the route, it defo has to be one the hardest technical routes and you do spend as much time off the bike than on it. Dont make the same mistake i made by accidently ridding through the footpath route from the bottom of Howtown, Nightmare!!!!
  6. GravatarMartin said: November 30th, 2011
    Really struggling to make sense of this route. Planning a ride there next week and attempting to put it into bikehike. It seems to make sense until:"Turn right when you reach the road, and spin back to Pooley Bridge by the lake." - at this point, I'm nowhere near Pooley Bridge... so clearly I have something very wrong. Have any locals got something on bikely or everytrail?Cheers!
  7. GravatarZeff from Ullswater said: December 1st, 2011
    Martin-at the turn right bit that's confusing you you will be at the southern end of the lake and James is suggesting riding back along the road through Glenridding to Pooley Bridge. Hope this helps. Have a good ride.
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