Tarquin's cycling pages

21 August 2004 - Grizedale Forest loop

WhereGrizedale Forest loop
(The Lake District)
Date21 August 2004
Duration2 hours 30 minutes
Distance10 miles (~16 km)
WeatherSunshine for the first time in a week
Trail conditionsWet with loose dirt
Anonymous Unknown Dawes Tekarra
GT LTS 2000 (TWJ)
Josie Wilton-Jones 2 Burley Cub with suspension (baby trailer)
Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones 24 GT LTS 2000 (TWJ)
Dawes Tekarra

Trip report

Description by Mark 'Tarquin' Wilton-Jones

We ended up here mainly because we had neither proof of address or enough money for a security deposit to hire a bike in Ambleside.

We hired a bike and baby trailer at the forest centre. Unfortunately, the trailer would not attach to my bike and I was the stronger cyclist. There was no way I was going to take my bike all the way to the Lake District and not use it so it seemed that I would be the one having the easy ride. This was the first time either of us had used a trailer, even though I had taken a baby seat several times.

The trailer has two advantages. It makes turning easier because you do not have to compensate for the unstable extra weight of a baby seat, and the child is more comfortable. It has far more disadvantages. It cannot cope with even remotely rough terrain, it needs you to swing very wide on corners, you must not cycle fast or it may tip over, and you need much more space when cycling on roads. Most importantly, it makes uphills feel like you have left the back brake on. However, for gentle rides, it does seem better and I would recommend hiring one.

During the first half of the ride, even gentle uphills proved too hard and in most cases we either swapped bikes, or I cycled mine to the top, then walked down and cycled the other bike and trailer up as well.

Starting from the visitor centre, we passed through a farm, following the green route. After taking the trailer up the first hill, we realised that the camera was still in the tent. That is why there are no pictures to accompany this report. After a short downhill came a series of uphills. These were fairly prolonged and did not inspire confidence about the route ahead.

Near the top, mountains peaked over the tree tops, and in a couple of places where the forest had been cleared, we were rewarded with stunning panoramas of the Coniston and Langdale mountain ranges - best view all day ... other highlights include the (are you ready for this?) radio mast. After several junctions, we turned off the green route onto the orange route, just as the track began its first decent descent. Such a pity.

After another climb, the path began to drop more quickly and wound round a few corners. On one corner, I hit a branch and in a heart stopping moment, only managed to stop myself flying off the edge of the track by pulling a quick burst of skids on the loose chippings to change direction. Where's a video camera when you need one?!

After a final descent, the track reached a car park overflowing with cyclists. Taking the road for a moment, we then entered the forest on the other side, beginning with a short uphill and following the purple route. A quick downhill sprint and longer uphill then preceeded the final long downhill. This would be excellent for speeding down if it were not for the occasional hairpin bend beside stream gullies, and the annoyingly high number of families and dog walkers, all using the same paths for walking. Lacking a bike bell, I resorted to pulling short skids so that they would hear me. The familiar rumble of the trailer seemed to be enough for the other bike.

Back on the road, we cycled back uphill to complete the loop.

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