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Two visitors entering through the front gate of the Wordsworth House and Garden courtyard on a sunny day
Start this cycling trail from Dorothy's birthplace in Cockermouth | © National Trust Images / John Millar
Lake District

Dorothy Wordsworth cycling trail

This 32-mile cycling route is from Dorothy Wordsworth's birthplace in Cockermouth to where she died at Rydal Mount near Ambleside in the Lake District, and was created to mark the 250th anniversary of her birth on 25 December 1771. Discover this trail to learn about Dorothy's life, her deep connection to the natural world and how she was a creative force in her own right.

Challenging route

The route is designed for adults who are confident cyclists and not beginners, and is suitable for mountain or hybrid bikes.

Total steps: 16

Total steps: 16

Start point

Wordsworth House and Garden, grid ref: NY118307

Step 1

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 NCR71 signs, crossing the footbridge and turning left along the river. Pass under two bridges and then circle 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.

Step 2

At the T-junction, ignore the NCR71 signs. Turn left and head towards the fells following the country road past St. Cuthbert's Church, 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 and at a sharp right turn to Wythop Hall.

Step 3

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 bank. 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.

Step 4

From here head downhill on a forest trail for 0.7 miles to Bassenthwaite Lake. The descent is steep and rough in places, particularly the first 300m. 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.

Step 5

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 that 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 the privately-owned Greta Hall.

Step 6

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

Step 7

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 and then bear immediately left. Follow 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.

View of some of the 38 stones in the Castlerigg Stone Circle with mountains in the background, Derwent Water, Lake District
Castlerigg Stone Circle at Derwent Water, Lake District | © National Trust Images / Paul Harris

Step 8

Continue downhill from the stone circle to a T-junction. Following the C2C71 signs for the next 1.6 miles, turn right and then right again at the next T-junction. In 250m turn right 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 miles, cross the Thirlmere dam and contour along the lake's western shore.

Step 9

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, take the NCR6 cycle route up to the top of Dunmail Raise.

Step 10

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 2.5 mile downhill on the A591 to Grasmere, turning right into Grasmere at the very bottom by the Swan Inn.

Step 11

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.

Step 12

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.

Step 13

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

Step 14

Follow the road uphill from Dove Cottage. Take the steep hill on the left signed 'No through road for motor vehicles after 1/2 mile'. The road ends by a house and tarn, and narrows to become a bridleway known locally as the Coffin Route.

Step 15

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.

Step 16

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.

End point

Dora's Field

Trail map

Dorothy Wordsworth cycle trail map
Dorothy Wordsworth cycle trail map | © Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey

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