Longsleddale is a very quiet valley on the eastern edge of the Lake Distict near the town of Kendal. It is easily accessible as it is not far from the main North/South arterial M6 motorway. The Longsleddale Valley is missed by many on their way to the more famous areas in the Lake District, which means that it is quiet! There are three or four good bridal paths which take you out of the valley. The one described here goes through Sadgill up the Gatescarth Pass dropping down to the head of Haweswater Reservior and looping round up Nan Bield Pass to Kentmere and from there back down to Longsleddale. The ride is only 10 miles but is tough. The pay off is the simply spectacular views and two awesome downhills. My photos do it no kind of justice!
Pick up the A6 from Kendal and the turn left after about 4 miles into Longseddale. Parking is very difficult in this valley as it is so narrow with passing places only. Park at the St Mary's Church for a £2 donation, which is about 3 miles along the lane. There is some space at the head of the valley at Sagill but it could easily cause an obstuction to local farmers who will not be amused.
1. Once at Sadgill head out on the rough track which gets steeper. Just keep going for 2.5 miles making sure to bear left at Brownhowe Bottom (NY 47840 08450). From here on it gets steeper and becomes the Gatescarth Pass.
2. At the top (NY 47380 09290)drop down on a fantastic descent to Mardale Head and Haweswater.
3. As you approach the lake you will see a sharp left turn. Take it (NY 46870 10680). This now climbs steeply up to a small lake called Small Water via some lovely waterfall and spectacular views back to Haweswater.
4. Cross the stepping stones on the right at the top keeping the lake on the left. Now the hard work starts!! The track become indistinct, rocky and VERY steep. You will need to shoulder the bike. This is Nan Bield Pass. Some people say they have ridden this in the other direction. I would like to see it!!! It is hard enough climbing it. The climb is only 0.5 miles and 500ft but it hurts!!
5. The top of the pass is obvious (NY 45325 09595) with a large stone shelter in which to rest and escape from the wind.
6. Directly behind the shelter is the downhill past Kentmere on the right. This is brilliant. Steep narrow rocky switchbacks drop you down to a fairly techical track of about 2.5 miles in length. The whole thing is rideable from the top to the bottom and great fun. The best part of the ride!
6. The track will eventually become metalled as it passes through farms and after a tad over 3 miles a left turn is taken (NY 46498 05045)onto a rough double track. This climbs at a ridable grade and the drops on a good descent back into Sadgill. Go over the bridge and turn right and ride along the road back to the car at the church.
If coming from the south leave the M6 at junction 36 and head for Kendal. Take the A6 out of Kendal for 4 miles and take a left turn into Longseddale.
If coming from the north leave the M6 at junction 39 heading west on the B6261. Turn left onto the A6 and head due south towards Kendal for 9.5 miles. Turn right into Longsleddale.
Drive on the narrow winding lane for 3 miles. Park at the church. Here there are toilets but no water or provisions are available.
When to Bike
Biking can be year round but the weather can change in an instant. All the high mountain precautions should be taken. Take plenty of provisions as there is nothing here.