The Coffin Route suggests that it is a mean killer but it would be great as an evening ride or one which you need on a rest day. It is so named because coffins used to be carried from Ambleside to Grasmere along this route until 1821. It takes in Wordsworth Country and is rather "cultured" for a mountain bike ride. Wordsworth wrote (as I'm sure you know) the famous "host of golden daffodils" in his "Daffodils" poem which was published in the 1815 from Rydal Mount where he lived. Anyway, this ride is great even if it is short and will provide views of the surrounding fells as well as Rydal Water and Grasmere. There are plenty of opportunities for stops at cafes and pubs along the way. So not too strenuous either!
Park in the disused quarry as in the "Getting There" section. This route is probably best done in an anti-clockwise direction. I think that you will get the best of the off road sections this way.
1. From the amazing free quarry car park turn left and away from Rydal Water and up the paved road towards Grasmere. Follow the road for about 0.6 miles and past Dove Cottage (one of Wordsworth's residencies) to the main road.
2. Cross the road and onto the B5287 and head towards Grasmere. Go past the church and take the first road left. Keep left and follow this minor road up and round to the western side of the lake Grasmere.
3. After about 1.2 miles the road becomes steep and after another 0.2 miles look for a left turn off road onto a bridal path. This skirts the edge of a mixed wood and leads onto Loughrigg Terrace which traverses high above Grasmere and leads to Rydal Water.
4. After just over 0.5 miles there is a choice of the "high road" which takes you past Rydal Cave and looks down on Rydal Water, or the "low road" which takes you on the shoreline of Rydal Water. I recommend the "high road". It's more fun!!
5. This track proceeds past the cave and on for a total of about 1.5 miles and meets the "low road" at Steps End. Pass through the gate and then drop down on a metalled road to a cattle grid. Over this and turn left and over the small bridge over the River Rothay. Turn left here and onto a busy main road. Be careful.
6. Proceed for about 400 yds and turn right. If you fancy a pint carry on for 100 yds (instead of turning right) to the Badger Bar! If you fancy a coffee do the right turn and up the hill past the church and turn right after the retreat centre - proceed for 100 yds to the "Old School Room Tea Shop". Excellent coffee and cake!
7. Carry on up the hill past Wordsworth's Rydal Mount, after about 100 yds take a left turn through the gate onto the Coffin Route and Nab Scar.
8. This is a great off road route which traverses above Rydal Water. On a good day the views are excellent. Proceed along here for about 1.5 miles through a number of gates. Pass the housing on the right, a pond and drop down to the small lane which you went along at the start. Turn left and proceed back to the quarry and the car.
Rydal Water is just outside Ambleside in the Southern Lake Distict.
Get on the M6 motorway leaving at junction 36. Drive towards Kendal along the A590. Note there is a good bike shop in Staveley (Wheelbase). Drive through Windermere and Ambleside (Bike Treks bike shop is worth a visit!!) along the A591. You will see Rydal Water on your left. 2.5 miles after leaving Ambleside you will see a car park called White Moss Common. DO NOT park here, it costs £4.50 and is a rip off. Immediately after White Moss Common on the right you will see a small steep lane. Take it and 200 yds on the left is a small disused quarry. Park here for free!!
When to Bike
Biking is year round as it is a low level ride with little chance of problems. There are plenty of opportunities for stops at pubs and cafes as mentioned in the trail guide.