Thursday, 22 October 2015

Bikepacking MicroAdventure - Lake District 2 dayer, 13,000ft 95 miles

Inspired by our Summer Bikepack Microadventure through mid Wales, Dave and me vowed to fit another in before the end of the year. There were 3 destinations I had in mind ;

* Mid Wales again - lots still to explore, riding was good but not techy and not much singletrack
* Yorkshire Dales - Loads of multi valley bridleways & tracks giving endless options
* Lakes - Our favourite riding trails. Plus lots of pubs and tea shops!
The 95 mile 2 day Lake District Bikepack Route
Day  1: Staveley, Jenkins Crag, Arnside, Claife Heights, Grizedale, Blawith Fells, Duddon Bridge, Dunnerdale
Day 2: Stephenson Ground, Walna Scar, Tilberthwaite, Blea Tarn, Gt Langdale, Loughrigg, Jenkins Crag, Garburn Pass
I think the pubs and tea shops sealed the deal plus its our favourite Mountain Biking area - trails are anything from ribbons of singletrack going for miles through remote scenery, to techy 4x4 tracks to trailcentre-esque forest routes.

So, armed with trepidation, 2 bikes, 2 seatpacks, 2 handlebar bags and a route which looked guaranteed to offer a challenge and great riding in equal measure - we headed to the start of our ride - Staveley and therefore the Eagle & Child Inn. I've given a bit more detail on how we managed to pack so light down the bottom of this post but in a word - Alpkit. Awesome UK products which perform well and don't break the bank.

The weather as we set off was settled and cool but not cold on the way to our Camp1 overnight spot just above Staveley. We just needed to get into the open fells tonight as the next two days was when the riding started properly.
This is the view we had on Saturday morning - what a great start to the weekend ! 
The only thing with packing so light is that getting all the stuff you need back into two small bike bags is quite an intimidating task - let alone battling with the bike to get them attached ! After a good gear faff and a healthy helping of porridge, honey and fixing Dave's slow puncture we set headed off to our target destination : Dunnerdale, near Caw.

Throughout Day1 we would pass through Troutbeck, Ambleside, Outgate and Grizedale for lunch then Blawith, Broughton Mills, Duddon Bridge, Ulpha and then to camp high on the fells. The riding was fantastic throughout - it was mostly offroad but had a great mix of rubbly paths, rocky singletrack ribbons and easy riding tracks. We hardly saw anyone until our first stop in Grizedale cafe.

It was wonderful riding, with the only issue being a lack of water. In all the years I've been going to the Lake District, I'd never seen the streams like this - they were non existent apart from the major ones (which were often lower down and therefore not ideal for topping up water bottles from). We had to pay a visit to some National Trust accommodation to get topped up as I was starting to get headaches.
Day1 : CW from Top Left : Black Fell, Claife Heights, Parkamoor1, Parkamoor2, Woodland Fell, Thwaites Fell
One of my favourite trails of the day was the Three Witches in Grizedale - normally done in descent, but we did it as a pretty hard climb - still very good fun and basically all rideable. Progress was good until we stumbled upon some rarely used Bridleways near Boad Hole, Duddon Bridge - in fact, the OS map showed a BW which no longer exists on the ground. A quick diversion soon found us pushing the bikes towards Thwaites fell for the final leg over to our camp whilst the sun was giving a lovely glow whilst starting to set.

Our Overnight Camp
Part of the reason for choosing this area as an overnight camp is the proximity of The Blacksmiths Arms - another fantastic Lakes pub which just oozes atmosphere whilst offering great beer (and food, although we managed on Noodles!).
Bikepack Day 2 : Lovely riding towards White Pike - just before Walna Scar, Coniston
Day 2 was looking slightly shorter on the map than day 1 - about 40 miles today. We started off with the path round Stephenson Ground and Jackson Ground - another of my favourites - before starting the climb up to Walna Scar and popping out on the high fells as you can see above.

We'd not ridden the Walna Scar descent for many years and it's now a ride of two halves - top half - nice n rubbly and techy - bottom half - sanitised. Disappointing really but I'm sure over time it will develop some character. A quick food stop in Coniston Lake side cafe before heading out through Tilberthwaite, Little Langdale, Blea Tarn and another sanitised track through Great Langdale - again this used to be a lovely bridleway to ride but is now almost wheelchair friendly.
Bikepack Day 2 : Blea Tarn
Although Day 2 was slightly shorter, the full packs and rubbly trails were starting to take the freshness out of both of our legs - that and the 13,000ft of climbing ! The last 2 trails were Jenkins Crag (push) and Garburn - the latter being more technical riding than either of us had found before on this trail.

To top the weekend off, we got back to Staveley around 515, just in time to find the local Artisan Bakery wanting to get rid of out of date sausage rolls and posh cobs - they didn't last long!

A great weekend of hard riding on perfect trails, with great pub and cafe stops. Just what a biking weekend should be.

As I mentioned above the lightweight equipment Alpkit offers has opened up new avenues of lightness and comfort for backpacking and bikepacking. None of the equpment is expensive either, plus they are based near Eastwood, 8 miles away.

Tent : Alpkit Ordos 2. Just over 1kg, spacious 2 man. Best backpacking tent I've ever used
Sleeping Bag : PHD Minimus, 500g
Thermarest : Alpkit Numo 450g - Again, the best packpacking option I've ever used. Folds flat
Down Jacket : PHD Minimus Pullover, 300g
Waterproof Jacket : Haglofs LIM Ultimate 240g
Lighting : Exposure Joystick, just awesome!

Seat Pack : Alpkit Airlok 13l Tapered
Handlebar Pack : Airlok Extra 13l
Velcro straps : Pair, long

Camp Stuff : Packpillow, Foil Groundsheet (reflects more heat than the footprint), Earplugs (tent can get flappy), cheapy 500ml Pan with lid which fits the smallest gas cylinder and stove inside it, Pan stability feet, wet wipes, contact lenses, spork, stove foil windshield

Overnight Clothes : LS Merino Top, Leggings, Socks, Tights, Buff, Gloves
Evening Meal : Posh cupasoup / Posh Packet Cous Cous / Custard & Mars Bars
Breakfast : Porridge with added sugar / honey pre bagged
Bike Stuff : Multitool, Tubes, Pump, Oil, Chain links, cable ties
Other : Camera, Tripod, Spare Battery, Phone in Ortlieb Case with Battery power pack


JD said...


Just getting into bikepacking and this route looks great.

Don't suppose you have a .gpx file for this route or link to where I can find one?


Alan Billington said...

Certainly do! Here is day 2. Let me know if it works and I'll pop in day 1

JD said...

Worked perfectly dude.

Day 1 would be much appreciated.

I've actually ridden parts of this route and was impressed so have been looking for more routes around here via google and found your blog.

How was it for wild camping ?

Alan Billington said...

Here you go.


Note that Day1 doesn't start from the Eagle and Child. I think it starts from just above that which is where we started Day 1. The starting point from Day 1 was not ideal really as we were in the middle of a farmers field which was less than ideal!

Day2 camp was perfect - loads of open access land all perfect. Don't forget the walk down to the Blacksmiths Arms in Broughton Mills too once settled in. A must-do stop!

Good luck. I've now got a tarp, so I'm dying to try that out up there.

JD said...

Amazing. Thanks so much. Can't wait to get out there.

Have you done much bikepacking?

I have all the gear I need now just planning some test rides and then I hope to do some epics up in Scotland (capital trail and Cairngorms loop look amazing).

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