Dorothy Wordsworth 250th Anniversary Cycle Trail

Cycling trail

This cycle route takes you from Dorothy Wordsworth’s birthplace in Cockermouth the 32 miles to the place where she died at Rydal Mount near Ambleside. Dorothy Wordsworth was a creative force in her own right, and had a deep connection to the natural world. This route is an invitation to mark the 250th anniversary of her birth on 25th December 1771. The route uses quiet roads, off-road cycle tracks and bridleways – with some stretches on main A roads where that is unavoidable – so it’s suitable for mountain bikes or hybrid bikes. The route is designed for adults who are already confident cyclists, not beginners. The majority of the route is not technically challenging.


A map showing the cycle trail steps


Wordsworth House and Garden


Cycle straight down Cockermouth Main Street. After crossing the bridge over the river Cocker, turn right into Market Place and then immediately right into Market Street. Follow the road to the right down to the river, signed NCR71. Continue following the 71 signs, crossing the footbridge, turning left along the river, passing under 2 bridges, then circling round up and right onto an old railway track. On reaching a road turn left, signed NCR71, and follow it out of town 1.4 miles to a T-junction.

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Wordsworth House, Cumbria


At the T-junction, IGNORE the NCR71 signs. Turn left and head towards the fells following the quiet country road past St. Cuthbert’s church and the occasional habitation, ignoring any turn-offs. After 2 miles at a steep hill sign turn right. Follow the country lane up the Wythop valley, for 1.6 miles, ignoring any turn-offs until the tarmac ends at a sharp right turn to Wythop Hall.

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Continue straight on, taking the gated farm track across the fields. You are now on the old NCR71. At the corner with an NCR71 sign, at the entrances to two fields, turn right along the grassy banking. Follow this track to the gate with an NCR71 sign. Skiddaw is directly in front of you and this marks the entrance to Wythop Wood.

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From here it is downhill on a forest trail for 0.7 mile to Bassenthwaite Lake. The descent is steep and rough in places, particularly the first 300m. NB: If you do not feel confident enough to handle some sections, it is advisable to dismount. This offers the added benefit of being able to appreciate the view towards Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite Lake as well as the flora and fauna of the wood. Pass through the gate and follow the track down into the wood. After this initial steep downhill with a sharp right bend, you reach a wider forest track. Cross this and continue down on the smaller track until the NCR71 exits the woods.

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The NCR71 exits the woods joining the old road to Thornthwaite and Braithwaite. Avoiding any turn-outs onto the A66, follow the old road until you reach the Middle Ruddings hotel. Here take the off-road cycle track along the right-hand side of the A66 which goes as far as the right turn which you take into Keswick. Here it becomes a cycle lane on the road. En-route into town shortly after crossing the bridge over the river Greta, turn into the Rawnsley Centre car park on your left. Continue straight up the incline. This takes you to the gate of privately owned Greta Hall (not open to visitors).

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Return to the main road via the car park and continue into Keswick.

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At the traffic lights, before the pedestrianised town centre follow the C2C signs. Go left, following the road round to the right. Turn left at the next set of lights. Where this road bends right, carry straight on, bearing immediately left, following the C2C sign, up to the front entrance and around the right hand side of the Leisure centre and then right alongside the former railway station. Continue along the Keswick Railway Cycleway and Footpath, leaving it by a short steep track up to the right, by a signpost and map, before a bridge under the main road. At the top of the track, turn right through the gate onto the main road. Follow the NCR signs Grasmere via Stone Circle, turning left before Chestnut Hill and then immediately right, signed Castlerigg Stone Circle.

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Castlerigg Stone Circle in winter, Lake District


Continue downhill from the stone circle to a T-junction. Following the C2C71 signs for the next 1.6 miles, turn right then right again at the next T-junction. In 250m turn right again towards St John’s in the Vale. Follow the road, bearing left, crossing the bridge over St John’s beck, then turn right. In 100m IGNORE the left turn to Matterdale and the C2C71 sign. Continue straight on cycling down the picturesque vale. After 2.3 miles, as you approach the hamlet of The Green at the end of the vale, turn right onto a track, signed Grasmere by permissive cycle way. Cross the A591 and continue straight ahead, signed Grasmere. In 0.6 mile, cross the Thirlmere dam and contour along the lake’s western shore.

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After 4.5 miles, at the end of Thirlmere, shortly after Steel End car park but before West Head Farm, look out for a small wooden gate on your right, signed Grasmere via Dunmail Raise. From here it is the NCR6 cycle route up to the top of Dunmail Raise.

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Be sure to exit the cycle track as you reach the start of a short section of dual carriageway to be on its southbound side for the impressive 2.5 mile downhill on the A591 to Grasmere, turning right into Grasmere at the very bottom by the Swan Inn.

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After turning right, follow the road until you come to the third turning on your right, signed Allan Bank. Follow the signs up to the house where Dorothy lived from 1808-1813.

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A view of Allan Bank from the outside


Return to the village. At the T junction follow the B5287 into the village (avoiding Red Bank), following the road round to the left and then to the right, until you come to St. Oswald’s church on your left.

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Follow the road out of the village, Stock Lane. At the roundabout with the A591, go straight across and up the hill to Dove Cottage.

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Follow the road uphill from Dove Cottage. Take the steep hill on the left signed ‘No through road for motor vehicles after ½ mile’. The road ends by a house and tarn and narrows to become a bridleway, known locally as the Coffin Route.

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Follow the coffin route for 1.2 miles to Rydal Mount house. A third of the way along there is a 250m section where both riders of horses and bikes need to dismount, but the views over Rydal Water and the final section of bridleway to Rydal Mount are worth it.

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Taking the road to the right after Rydal Mount brings you down to Rydal Church. Dismount and walk through the churchyard to Dora’s Field.

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Daffodils at Dora's Field in Rydal in the Lake District


Dora's Field

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Dorothy Wordsworth 250th Anniversary Cycle Trail


This cycle route is designed for adults who are already confident cyclists. The route uses short stretches of busy A-roads, quiet B-roads, traffic-free cycle lanes and off-road bridleways.

There is one very steep rough descent (300m) which can be walked if cyclists feel it is too challenging to cycle down.

Dorothy Wordsworth 250th Anniversary Cycle Trail

Contact us

Telephone: National Trust office: (0)17687 74649



Dorothy Wordsworth 250th Anniversary Cycle Trail

How to get here

Wordsworth House and Garden Main Street Cockermouth Cumbria CA13 9RX
By train

Nearest train stations are at Penrith (30miles from start and 28miles from finish)

at Workington (9miles from start and 38miles from finish)

and at Windermere (35miles from start and 6.5miles from finish)

By road

The start at Wordsworth House and Garden is on the A5086 coming into Cockermouth from the A66 junction.

The end at Dora's Field, near St Mary's Church in Rydal is adjacent to the A591 in Rydal.

By bus

The X4/X5 bus links Cockermouth to Keswick via the A66 (also links to Workington and Penrith train stations)

The 555 bus links Rydal to Keswick (also links to Windermere train station)

Dorothy Wordsworth 250th Anniversary Cycle Trail

Facilities and access

  • Public Toilets Cockermouth, Keswick and Grasmere