Langdale cycle trail
This trail through Great Langdale valley runs away from the Pikes on the outward leg, through varied scenery of meadow, woodland, slate quarry and eventually along a riverside path from Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge. Here you can stop off for refreshments before heading back up the valley to enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the Langdale Pikes.
Stickle Ghyll car park
Exit the car park and turn left along the B5343 for around 100 yards before forking right through the smaller car park opposite the Sticklebarn. Follow the white-on-blue cycle route signs pointing along the wide track towards Ambleside and Elterwater.
Take this byway down the valley until you reach the point where the track turns left up towards the road. Fork right here following the cycle signs to Chapel Stile. Turn right again at the next junction of paths and head over the bridge across the river and straight up through Oak Howe Farm. Around the back of the farm take the path to the left, signposted to Chapel Stile.
Oak Howe Farm
Be aware of other users of the cycle track and bridleway. You'll no doubt come across other cyclists, walkers and the odd Herdwick sheep along the way.
Here's where the uphill section starts. The magnificent view back up the valley towards the Langdale Pikes gives you a good excuse to stop and take a breather before you head through woodland towards Baysbrowne Farm. After passing through the farm keep straight on along the road until you reach a house followed immediately by a cycle path sign to the left. Take this left turn down a bridleway and through Elterwater quarry. Beware of large vehicles as you pass through the quarry.
Elterwater Quarry is a working quarry famous for its Westmorland Green slate. Green slate has been used for centuries on cottages, barns and other buildings in the Lake District and is still as popular today.
As you exit the quarry take the track to the left. This runs down to the riverside where there's a lovely stone seat overlooking Great Langdale Beck. The path then climbs a little until it joins the road down from the quarry. Go down this road and turn left at the T-junction over the bridge into Elterwater village.
Elterwater's past was based around the quarry, gunpowder works and farming. Today the village relies mainly on tourism with many of the old workers' houses having been converted into holiday cottages. The Britannia Inn and Maple Tree café are both good places to stop for refreshments. There are also public toilets in the village.
Leave Elterwater village via the car park at the end of the bridge and follow the riverside path signed 'Ambleside, route 37'. The path eventually leaves the crystal-clear river behind and heads off through woodland, reappearing into open meadow at the edge of Elter Water tarn.
Elter Water tarn
This is a great place to pause and take in the view of the Langdale Pikes reflected in the tarn. If you stop here to eat your sandwiches beware of the swans as they are quick on their feet and may get to your lunch before you do.
Continue along the path across open meadow where you will soon approach a gate into woodland. Go through the gate and cross the stylish wrought iron bridge known as the Trevor Woodburn Memorial Bridge. Cycle route 37 takes you across the bridge and continues to a short section of the busy A593 to Chesters by the River at Skelwith Bridge. If you prefer to avoid the road then do not cross the memorial bridge, but instead, dismount and push your bike along the path to the left down to Chesters by the River.
From the Trevor Woodburn Memorial Bridge you can look down on Skelwith Force. When the river is in spate it's worth getting a little closer to take in the dramatic scene.
Chesters is the turnaround point for the cycle trail. Simply retrace the route back up the valley taking in the breathtaking views of the Langdale Pikes as you head back towards the Sticklebarn and Stickle Ghyll car park.
The Sticklebarn is the only pub in the country run by the National Trust. It's a real walkers' and cyclists' pub with log fires, hearty food and real ale. Be sure to pop in after your ride for a rewarding drink or a bite to eat.
Stickle Ghyll car park
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