INCREASING motor traffic on the main roads, particularly the A591 north/south artery, has made the Lakes a less attractive proposition.

Don’t be put off, however, as if you know where to look, there are still traffic free roads to be found. So this month, I’ll share one of my special places with you.

Keen eyed readers will note another different bike this month too. Under the brand name of Cougar, Terry Dolan built machines for many famous riders in the 1990s. These were then painted in the colours of the riders’ trade team.

So around the time my bike was built, Chris Boardman was riding something very similar, built by Terry, albeit then painted in French GAN professional team livery.

Today’s ride starts in Windermere, a 95-mile drive from York, so doable in a day, but if you have more time to spare, an overnight stay makes the whole thing more enjoyable.

I often stay at Denehurst Guest House, which is situated mid way between Windermere town, and the lakeshore at Bowness. There is an abundance of pubs and restaurants in both locations, and the owners of Denehurst can make recommendations and bookings to suit your requirements.

If starting from Denehurst, head left, downhill, to join the A5074 Lake Road, (where there’s also free on street parking) and continue downhill into Bowness. Continue downhill as far as the lake-shore.

The ride wouldn’t be complete without seeing at least one lake, so soak up the atmosphere and watch the steamers come and go from the pier cafe. From the pier, retrace back uphill for about 150 yards, (where the church is on your left) to turn right here, onto Kendal Road, the A5074.

In just over half a mile, where signs show Lancaster and Kendal to the right, take the left fork here instead (uphill) onto Windy Hall Road.

An easy climb brings you to a T-junction with the B5284, where turn left, signed Crook and Kendal. Follow this road for about two miles, but on the way, take note of a sign to Heathwaite on the left. We’ll be coming back to this cross road later in the ride.

Pass Windermere Golf Club and Gilpin Hotel, before descending to the Wild Boar hotel. Take a right (unsigned) directly opposite. From here it's single track roads virtually all the way back to Windermere. Drop downhill and quickly bear right again.

Pass Mitchelland House and Cottage. The surface is rough in places so take care. In fact, there are rough patches for the rest of the ride, so I’ll not mention them again. Climb gently, and look for the next junction off to the left. There’s no road sign, but attached to the stone wall here is a green slate sign for Gilpin Lake House. Take the left here, and descend the even narrower road down (now following a sign for Crosthwaite) to Gilpin Mill.

Pause here if you wish to view the mill pond and sluice beyond. A short but steep climb follows so feel free to walk (I did!) bearing left, uphill, at unsigned T-junction, then quickly right, signed Crosthwaite. A long gentle descent follows as you track the course of the river Gilpin, on your right. At Crosthwaite go left at T-junction, signed Underbarrow and Kendal. Continue through the long village to eventually pass the Punch Bowl Inn and St. Mary’s church.

Just beyond, turn off right, signed Lyth, and immediate right again at blue sign, unsuitable for HGV. This takes you down to your second mill of the day, also powered by the river Gilpin.

Dating back to the 13th century, it is now a management training centre. The mill race is still in place and on the day of my visit, I photographed a profusion of yellow marsh marigolds, attracted no doubt by the damp ground conditions.

Cross straight over the A5084, signed Cartmel, and climb steeply. Level, then descend to a three-way junction, where right, signed Bowland Bridge. Pass Cowmire Hall, thought originally to be a Pele Tower, built about 1500. It is now the home of locally produced damson gin. Arrive at Bowland Bridge and go left at T junction.

You’ll see a white gable end with the word INN painted in black, on the hillside ahead. This is our lunch destination, the Masons Arms, on the wonderfully named Strawberry Bank. There’s a wide choice of real ale. I went for a local Hawkshead Bitter at 3.7%. Sandwiches from £6 and mains from £10. A nice beer garden too, with views back across the Winster valley and to Bowland Bridge below.

After lunch, take the small lane running level alongside the pub (north). Climb and bear right at next junction. Watch for Lound Cottage on the left of the road, then quickly afterwards, take an almost concealed turn off right.

This is on a left bend in the road. There is a sign for Kendal & Crosthwaite, but you need to be stopped to see it. Drop down steeply into the Winster valley. Climb again, then turn off left, signed Bowness via Winster. Descend gently, passing a scenic ford on the left, then curve right, to pass the old Winster School (1849). Arrive at the Brown Horse, Winster and turn left on to the A5074 for half a mile.

At the far end of the village is a chevron on a left bend. Here, go straight ahead instead, onto a single track road. There’s no road name at this end, but it’s named as Lindeth Lane on maps.

Follow this lane (ignoring Green Lane off to the right) until you reach the B5284 at the junction noted earlier in the ride. Go straight over, to follow the sign for Heathwaite. Climb to pass Heathwaite Manor and subsequently Lickbarrow Lodge on the right.

This brings you to a viewpoint with benches, overlooking Windermere town and the lake. This is the place for a final breather and reflection on the day. Drop down the hill.

At the bottom, where the road invites to to turn right, continue straight on instead, on what looks more like a private drive, but does have a name sign, Lickbarrow Road.

Trust me here and follow this very narrow lane to emerge at a T junction in front of a house called Dawn Wood. Turn right, (still Lickbarrow Road) then left at a T-junction (downhill) on Thornbarrow Road.

This takes you straight back to Lake Road (if that’s where you started) but otherwise, go quickly right, onto Prince’s Road, then second left (by the schools) onto Queens Drive and back to Denehurst.

Cycle facts

Date of Ride

Tuesday 4 April 2017

The Map

Ordnance Survey Explorer OL7, The English Lakes, South Eastern area

The Accommodation

Denehurst Guest House, 40 Queens Drive, WINDERMERE LA23 2EL

Tel. 01539 444710

The Cafe

Bowness on Windermere Steamer Pier LA23 3HQ

The Pub

Masons Arms, Strawberry Bank, Cartmel Fell LA11 6NW

Lunches served 12 till 2.30

Tel. 01539 568486

The Bike

1994 Cougar race bike by Terry Dolan of Liverpool. On 23c slicks.


18 miles

Car Parking

On street, at Denehurst Guest House, Queens Drive LA23 2EL

Or if not staying overnight, try the small lay-by at on Lake Road (A5074) at its junction with Thornbarrow Road, Windermere. Sat Nav. LA23 2JA