Mountain Biking in the Lake District: Torver and Kirkby Moor

Extract from: Mountain Biking in the Lake District.
Author: Ian Boyden
Publisher: Cicerone Reproduced with permission.

picture of two mountain bikers in the hills

Pic: Heading towards the Duddon Estuary

Distance 32km (20 miles)
Off road 13km (8 miles) 40% off road
On road 19km (12 miles)
Grade Medium
Ascent 1085m (3560ft)
Time 4hrs - 5hrs 30mins
Start/Finish Torver SD 283 941
Parking Lay-by in Torver opposite the main road junction
Pub The Wilson Arms, Torver
Cafe Bring sandwiches

This is a fine route set in one of the quieter areas of the national park. It makes a perfect choice for those days when you want a longish day in the saddle but do not feel like any arduous technical riding. A lack of difficulty on the technical side, however, does not mean a lack of fun riding. There are plenty of ups and thrilling downs to keep riders of all abilities entertained.


A short, flat road spin soon leads to a steep pull up Old Rake that will destroy cold legs. A quiet, grassy and fun bridleway soon returns you to the valley floor and another road section brings you to the Subberthwaite fells. Steep tarmac climbs and grassy descents are the order of the day here before you head off over Kirkby Moor. More quiet bridleways lead from Gawthwaite and meander back past Subberthwaite and above Blawith. A short climb soon leads to a fast and twisting white-knuckle descent over Woodland Fell. From here the route traverses the steep Knott before returning to Torver via a narrow tarmac lane.


  1. Starting from The Wilson Arms pub in Torver, leave the car park and turn right heading south along the A593. After around 1.5km turn right up the very steep lane: a real challenge for cold legs. After another 1.5km turn left through a gate onto a bridleway.
  2. The path is vague here but keep near to the wall on the left to find it. Pass through a gate in the corner of the field. Cross the next field, keeping to the higher side of the wall on the left, until reaching a gate below a small rocky outcrop. Pass through this, turn right and begin a fast grassy descent (with several sharp turns) to buildings at Hole Beck, returning to the A593.
  3. Turn right and follow the road for 1.5km before turning left at the sign for Woodland. Follow this lane, ignoring turnings on both sides. At a junction with a fingerpost turn left towards Ulverston and begin a climb on a narrow tarmac lane. Continue climbing for around 1.5km to a crossroads with a bridleway, at which turn right.
  4. Follow the bridleway (the right fork as it leaves the road) as it gives good riding along the flank of the fell before dropping with speed to meet another tarmac lane. Turn left here. Climb steeply up the lane, turning a left-hand corner, and as the gradient eases turn left onto the bridleway forking from a sharp right-hand bend.
  5. Follow the bridleway, passing stone ruins of a ruined settlement and small isolated tarns, to reach a junction of tarmac lanes. Turn right here and follow the lane as it climbs over a peaceful moor to reach the A5092. Turn left and head to Gawthwaite. Turn left into the hamlet and, after passing the houses, turn left onto a narrow tarmac lane that is part of the Cumbria Way.
  6. Continue along this track onto open fields. Passing through a couple of gates the track gradually deteriorates, before becoming a rutted path that gives an interesting and speedy drop to a tarmac track at Bay Bottom. Turn right and within 50m look for a very vague track on the left with no markers (this is very difficult to spot, look for faint tractor tyre marks). This leads to a gate in a wall; pass through this and across the next field to another gate. This leads to a nice singletrack path through trees to farm buildings at Raisthwaite. Continue along the track to meet a junction on the corner of a road.
  7. Turn immediately left onto a bridleway (now back on the Cumbria Way) to a farm at Kiln Bank. At the building turn right through a gate to stay on the bridleway. Pass through the next gate and, at a fork with two bridleways, take the right option. Follow this to meet a tarmac lane near Tottlebank and turn right. Descend the lane and take the next tarmac turning on the left (before a cattle grid). Follow this to reach a fork with three options. Take the middle path, a bridleway signed towards Woodland.
  8. Follow the bridleway over the quiet common. It is fairly level going at first before swinging downward to give a sublime, fast and twisty singletrack blast. At the bottom, before the path begins to climb again, cross the stream on the right via the stone slab bridge and pass through a gate.
  9. Continue past an idyllically set farm and plunge down through peaceful woodland to meet a tarmac lane, at which turn right. Follow this lane until a bridleway splits off to the left shortly before reaching another farm. Pass through a couple of gates, then climb a steep track to pass The Knott and blast down the other side.
  10. Continue as the track follows onto tarmac again and stay on the path to return to the A593. Turn right and return to Torver.