Green Quarter Fell loop in the Lakes

Ride level Beginner cyclist
Distance 11 mi / 18 km
Type of bicycle Mountain bike
Traffic free
Circular route
Karen Gee and her children

Three years ago, Karen Gee who writes Cycle Sprog, decided to up sticks, leave the suburban life behind and move her family to Cumbria in search of a more outdoor and active lifestyle. Here is one of her favourite loops in the Lakes with kids. 

At the time our two boys were 6 and 8 years old and able to ride their bikes independently, but were too young to ride on the road with busy traffic. They were on small wheels which meant they had to work much harder than us to travel any distance.

On our arrival, the first thing we had to confront was just how steep the Lake District is. It may seem a bit obvious, but it’s hard work cycling up hills! It’s hard work when you’re 6 years old and haven’t fully mastered how to use gears, and it’s equally hard when you’re a 40-something used to cycling on the flat.

Over the course of three years our climbing and stamina have improved and with every ride the boys get more skilled. They are now aged 9 and 11, and much better mountain bikers than me. At the moment I can still outpace them on the road, mainly due to the fact I’ve got bigger wheels! It won’t be long before they’re leaving me far behind, but I’m enjoying it while I can still keep up.

It’s been an exciting time discovering what the Lake District has to offer and it seems right that we share some of our favourite family friendly places to cycle.

A couple of words of advice:

The Lake District is mountainous, and all these routes have some ascent and descent. Don’t underestimate the affect this will have on a child’s ability to cover distance. Just because they can ride 10 miles on the flat doesn’t mean they can do the same in the Lake District.

Remember what goes up must come down. Descending at speed, either on or off road requires skill. Start easy and build up distance and difficulty once everyone in your family is confident. There are plenty of cycle coaches in the area offering family skills sessions and guided rides.

The weather in the Lake District changes quickly, so always be prepared for rain, cold weather and low cloud. It rains at least 200 days a year and is the wettest place in England. I’ve learnt never to set out without a waterproof – if you’re lucky you won’t need it!

Green Quarter Fell

Distance: 10.7 miles.

Type of bike: Mountain bike.

Terrain: Remote and steep bridleways, farm tracks and quiet roads.

Note this route is challenging and remote, so you must be prepared for all eventualities. Up on the top it’s wild and exposed, and the ground can be very boggy after heavy rain.  There’s always the risk of low cloud coming in, so you should know how to navigate with a compass and map, and stay together as a group.

In the years before children my husband and I used to enjoy riding the remote bridleways of the Lake District during our weekend camping trips, when we’d escape the city on a Friday night and return to our apartment exhausted but exhilarated late on a Sunday evening.

Never did we imagine that over a decade and a half later we’d be riding those same routes with our two boys. And certainly, when the boys were on their tiny little bikes those days seemed a distant memory. However, by the time the boys were aged 8 and 10 they had several years’ experience riding at trail centres coupled with regular mtb coaching sessions, and suddenly were ready to try something more challenging.

It was my birthday during the Easter holiday, and a perfect Lakeland spring day.  We decided to go for it and do a “proper” Lakeland mountain bike route.

Staveley is the base for many of the famous Lake District mountain bike routes including Garburn, Gatescarth and Nan Bield. We avoided these 'biggies' and headed north along the side of Staveley Head Fell. The first section is on road and the protests at the steep and unrelenting climb made me wonder whether this was a bad idea, but then the road ran out. Suddenly we were on wide farm tracks that made their way up to narrower tracks running across Green Quarter Fell. What fun! Soon we were on top of the world, with breathtaking views in all directions – westwards and north over the Lakeland Fells, eastwards towards the Howgills and south east towards the coast.  And just to top it off, there wasn’t another soul in sight the entire ride.

We rode over the boggy Cocklaw Fell before descending down towards Longsleddale Valley, which in itself offers some great riding but was one to leave for another day. Instead we continued westwards, sometimes riding and sometimes pushing up the steep tracks, marvelling that at one time these would have been the main route between the remote Lakeland farms. The descent down to Hallow Bank made all the struggling uphill worthwhile, especially when we discovered an honesty box on the wall containing homemade flapjacks – what a perfect birthday treat to give us fuel for the final stretch along the road back to Staveley.

As my boys are getting older and able to cope with longer and more challenging riding both on and off-road, I’m really looking forward to exploring further within the Lake District.