MBR Route vs Singletrack Routes

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  • MBR Route vs Singletrack Routes
  • excitable1

    I’ve been riding High Street via Martindale Common for years now. Why?.. because I was following an old MBR route.

    I looked at the digital version of Singletrack on Friday and picked up on the Patterdale Common route so did it today. What have I been missing, loads of of fun, some technical climbs and drops and great scenery right on the edge of Ulswater. Ok there’s a big bike hike up to Boredale Hause but so much better using the Patterdale Common route.

    Anybody who’s familiar with MBR’s routes will come to realise that they just rotate them over a two year cycle and they don’t ride them themselves.

    Premier Icon iain1775

    two years?
    Some routes around the peak district have been in at least 4 times in 18 months not to mention also being in the route guide special magazine things they produce every year!
    The Quantocks is another good one, think they have one ride they keep re-publishing twice a year


    And with the Quantocks one like the High Street route they seem to miss all of the best bits!

    Premier Icon mikewsmith

    most of the mbr routes are backwards too taking you up all the best descents!! You’d almost think they hadn’t ridden them


    Got a link to the STW route you’re referring to?

    Premier Icon binners

    MBR routes are absolutely gash! Its clear people are sending routes in backwards* in the knowledge they’ll print them without riding them

    Last one we did in the Clywdds, we rode up a load of stuff thinking “Blimey! this would be a blinding descent!”, only to get to the top and be faced with a wide, featureless, boring route down. I’ve never even bought MBR since.

    *could Singletrack staffers have any role in this? Hmmmmmmmm


    I rode an MBR route once.

    Never bought the magazine after that.


    One thing I didn’t understand from the Singletrack write up was why they rode up the steep climb from Hartsop to Hayeswater and then carried up to the High Street ridge only to turn round at the top and come straight back down again?!!? (unless of course I read it wrong!).



    Link above to the route as I recorded it on Gpsed.

    I know 40k in 5hrs doesn’t sound quick but be warned… Two big bike hikes the first up Boredale Hause and the second up to the Knott from Hayswater reservoir. The top of High Street is also slow going because it’s just so bloody wet and thick with hub deep peat at the moment… this is a hard work exhausting trail best done when it’s dryer at the top and take plenty of provisions. The views are spectacular and the descents are fantastic.

    If you do the MBR route the climb up Martindale common is ridable (just) and does shorten the route and take out a bike hike but I really enjoyed the Patterdadle route I did yesterday.

    MBR did post the Martindale route in the opposite direction, climbing the last fast descent off HighStreet back down to Pooley bridge… madness. I also did a MBR route in the Berwyn Hills and spent half an hour looking for a ‘red telephone box to turn right at….’ it was a post box on the entrance wall to a house. They don’t ride them at all !

    Doesn’t MBR stand for “More Bad Routes” ?


    To be fair to them, producing 4 different routes in 4 different parts of the country and riding them all would be a pretty big job.

    If I remember rightly, the routes are done for them by a couple, who’ve also written guide books.

    Premier Icon andytherocketeer

    Never ridden an MBR route, but one of my old (road) training loops from back home appeared in one of the mags (probably Cycling Plus). The only difference being that it followed a road past my village rather than through it. Went the same way that I used to ride it though. I guess they picked it from bikely? Was hardly scenic, and about the only point of interest is a spot that features in a Dickens novel, and all the cake+tea outlets and pubs are a diversion from the loop.

    Did the Burma Road a couple of weeks back. One planner had it going 1 way, but everywhere else seems to go the other. Maybe that was an MBR one?


    I rode this months pen y ghent route on Saturday, it was ok but the route discription is laughable. Point 1 to 2 is 3 lines and covers 3km, point 2 to 3 is 3 lines and covers 13km. Makes it confusing.

    +1 on MBR not going anywhere near the routes they write up.

    We did an MBR Aviemore loop taking in the Chalamain Gap earlier this year. According to the route review it was all fun and games, yet somehow it managed to omit a)the horrors of lugging your bike up the boulder field that is the Chalamain Gap, and b)the joys of descending the Lairig Ghru.


    Doesn’t MBR stand for “More Bad Routes” ?

    Much Better (with) Raisers

    Did a Conniston lap of thiers a few years ago, it was OK, only 2 fun decents though, one fast open one through a slate quarry off Old Man, and one through Grisedale, which was great for the first 2 minutes then spat you out onto fire roads, which while fast, didn’t warrent the hike a bike to the top!

    Since the interweb are route guides dead? Much better and safer to find out where the local club is riding that week and tag allong? Then again doesn’t seem to have affected the number of people paying £25+ to do an Audax rebranded as a Sportive does it?

    Premier Icon Esme

    Errr, you haven’t really thought this through, have you, lads?

    For starters, Excitable’s “Loadsa Fun” route was in MBR in 2008.

    Three of the routes (Easy, Medium and Hard) are created, ridden and photographed by Tom Hutton and his partner. The Killer Loop is done by other riders, and also features in an article, with photos. So where’s the evidence of “not riding the route”?

    Yes, the same areas do crop up regularly, but the routes are very different. For example, February 2010 had a long route starting at Ambleside and going over to Hodge Close, with little opportunity to cut short the ride in case of problems. The following month had a Medium ride with short loops wiggling around Hodge Close. We did this route last year, and it enabled me to curtail the ride when my Bike Buddy felt ill. So, same area but very different routes.

    Yes, the route descriptions are a bit brief, but surely they are to complement the map, rather than be a complete guide in their own right?

    Another point worth making is the MBR routes are all “legal”. Although we may know of better riding on “cheeky trails”, they can’t encourage people to ride on footpaths, can they?

    More importantly, the MBR routes are designed for all levels of ability, including beginners – which you all once were. Sometimes, for a novice, a bridleway can work better in the opposite direction. It’s rather dispiriting to slog up a long slow ascent, and then discover the downhill is too technical to ride.

    I use the MBR routes as a useful introduction to a new area, and then either modify them to suit my style, or design my own routes. This has led to fantastic rides in Snowdonia, Clwyds, Berwyns, White Peak, Dark Peak, Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, and the Lake District.

    So, maybe you are not the target audience for MBR and its suggested rides, but that doesn’t mean the routes are poor.

    Premier Icon singletracksurfer

    to be fair to MBR route guides, as Esme says, they do them for all over the place and for all abilities so are spread a lot thinner. I do prefer the Singletrack and WMB approach i.e. one area, well done though.

    Also I doubt a long time local guide would produce a ride good enough for a STW forum dweller (like myself) 😉

    More importantly, the MBR routes are designed for all levels of ability

    There’s beginners/medium/hard routes last time I checked

    Another point worth making is the MBR routes are all “legal”. Although we may know of better riding on “cheeky trails”, they can’t encourage people to ride on footpaths, can they?

    Depends on your POV, if a trail was sustainable and designated a Footpath then maybe it should be included, walkers got their rights by trespassing/persistance, why shouldnt we, sticking to footpaths/other tracks is arguably more responsible than the rambling movement was in it’s mass tresspass (a very middle class riot)! Conversely they shouldn’t include every track in Scotland as some clearly arent suited to the traffic despite being legal.

    So, maybe you are not the target audience for MBR

    They should seriously consider changeing their title then!

    They should seriously consider changeing their title then!

    Mountain Bike Riders that don’t read Singletrack is a bit of a mouthful though. 😉

    Premier Icon D0NK

    excitable1, did you do your route clockwise or anti? got an mbr route here that is the same as yours/singletracks run ACW and it’s the way we always do it. Boredale hause is a good descent run CW and the ullswater path is good in both directions but I reckon if I took my usual riding buddies up highstreet from cockpit and descended the knott there’d be mutiny, if I tried sannys trick up the knott and back down I’d be lynched. Loadpot-cockpit-howtown isn’t technical (I accept sanny’s point on this) but it is a bloody good fast trail and everyone who’s been on it with me has loved it. Could start in howtown do the ACW route then up martindale, do bordale hause and ullswater trail the other direction, did a similar route a few years back.

    Will have to try riding down the knott sometime – will be on my own tho I reckon

    Oh and MBR routes…not the most exciting (but then the best routes normally have some cheek in them) but 4 or 5 routes a month in varied locations aint bad and I’ve personally not had much trouble with printing/navigational errors in them. Don’t do many of their routes now but over the years I got some good ideas of trail networks from them to tailor my own routes. (admittedly not bought MBR in over a year – rest of mag is a bit mleh)


    Donk, I’ve always done the route anti clockwise but the MBR route I have goes clockwise and misses out the loop around the edge of Ullswater to Patterdale, comes down the Knott, climbs up from Hartstop to Boredale Hause and drops down Matindale common and up Barton Fell.

    The first time I tried the MBR route I made a mistake at Barton Fell and ended up doing it in reverse climbing up Martindale Common (which is steep but ridable), and therefore avoiding the bike hike from Patterdale up to Boredale Hause but climbing the Knott. Like you I couldn’t reconcile missing out the decent from Boredale Hause to Hartstop or the last drop round Loadpott Hill off the High Street ridge and down to Barton Fell. Barton Fell anti cloclockwise is also very good and one that I’d prefer not to climb.
    I really enjoyed the BW from Sandwick along the edge of Ulswater on Sunday having never tried it before because I’d always followed the MBR route (in reverse!). Nice and techy with some good views and a good buzz from clearing it all (well most of it).
    Doing Sunday’s route does have it’s down side and that’s two (and a half) big bike hikes in one day (Boredale Hause and The Knott plus the hike up the steps onto the higher BW round Place Fell) and my shoulders are still aching. When I was climbing Boredale Hause from Patterdale it did look like a tasty descent to come down although busy with walkers.
    Like you I’ve never come down the Knott. It took me a while to work out what Sanny had done but if you check out the photo on page 10 they actually went to the very very top of High Street i.e. including the big climb after The Knott and after you normally turn left to start the ridge to Loadpot Hill, the big f-in ridge at the head of the reservoir… that’s a big big climb all the way from Hartstop. Coming down that, rounding the Knott, dropping to Hayeswater and then down to Hartstop is starting to look quite tasty !
    Maybe I’ve been hasty in my criticism of MBR as there are elements that look good in the opposite direction. That said in 3 years I’ve only ever seen one route around High Street in MBR and about 18 around Hayfield & Ladybower and I was amazed that the suggestion was to go clockwise and miss out the loop from Patterdale to Sandwick. As I said before I’ve also known some of the routes to have some almighty clangers in them which lead me to conclude they don’t (always) ride them.

    Don’t cry for me but… I don’t need to worry about upsetting riding buddies with the choice of route… I haven’t got any and always ride alone 😥

    PS Can’t work out where the photo on page 13, top right, was taken on the route and it’s starting to bug me. Any suggestions ?

    Premier Icon D0NK

    Can’t work out where the photo on page 13, top right, was taken on the route and it’s starting to bug me. Any suggestions ?

    will have a look tonight if I remember, were a couple I wasn’t sure about. I did notice they’d gone to the top of racecourse, did all of high st from garburn earlier this year, good stuff.

    Only done boredale once, thinking maybe do high st from garburn again down the knot across to boredale down to silverpoint dunno which way to return tho.


    Nothing constructive to add, other than that Esme’s defense was quite eloquent – I’m convinced!

    Premier Icon D0NK

    page 13, at first I thought it was somewhere between the knott and rest dodd but checking the map I reckon it could be stony rigg looking towards boredale and place fell but that would be inconsistent with sannys report, hmmmm



    Try this…. I think they went a bit further up beyond Boredale in the Hause. I think the path and the hill in the distance is Redgate Head. I just down remember seeing any ferns up there.

    How long did it take you to do all of High Street from The Garburn and did you follow the 60k route in the Lake District MountainBiking book ? I fancy that myself.


    Was about to post and saw that Ox had already done so! He omitted the fact that we also did a truly gash ride near Kinloch Laggan too on the same weekend. Naturally, that was from MBR too.

    Premier Icon D0NK

    Excitable, maybe, I have been across from boredale to angle tarn once and thought it was along there, were some ferns IIRC, but don’t know that section very well so you could be right.

    I just cobbled together a route myself, 42 miles 8800ft just under 8 hours with puncture faffage and dying on my arse going up the knott.
    climb up hall wood
    high borrans
    dubbs/garburn rd
    Yoke ill bell thornthwaite racecourse
    High st loop exc boredale hause
    back the way I came with garburn pass to finish.

    Whats the route you’ve seen?


    as it happens, i’ve provided routes for both mbr and st. mbr published the route in exactly the way that we’d ridden it. both were on dartmoor

    if there was any difference between the two it was that st sent down two journos that ate up all the techy stuff and had a real ball whereas mbr sent down a journo that wasn’t really that able a rider technically even if he was a monster fitness wise.

    i think mbr end up with their routes ass backwards because they’re not really after technical treats on their routes regardless of all the gnarrcore blurb in the mag itself. the readership by and large aren’t the same sort of riders that st readers are. i can quantify that btw, i used to run a guiding company and advertised on stw and in mbr. stw’ers were generally up for anything that we could throw at them, mbr’ers were 95% of the time pretty phazed by rocks, roots, steeps etc. in all the time that i ran the company, i only ever felt able to take one group of mbr advert riders into lustleigh cleave.

    Premier Icon D0NK

    I hope everyones ego is well and truly stroked 😉

    Interesting considering MBR, as you say, seems more “gnarrcore” that ST


    Donk, route in ‘Lake District Mountain Biking’ is as follows:
    Start Ings and up past Dubbs and upto Applethwaite Common and down to Limefit Park missing out Garburn :(;
    Onto High Street going up Hagg Gill past Thornthwaite Crag and upto Straights of Riggindale;
    Down the Straights and up to High Rise and along to Load Pot Hill;
    Down Hart Hill & The Pen to Hullockhowe;
    Road round to and through Bampton Grange and up to Swindale Head;
    Up Nabs Moor to Mosedale then down the valley to Sadgill;
    Across Stile End to Kentmere;
    Then either back over the Garburn and down to Ings, up past Kentmere Hall and down past High House etc and back down to Ings or follow the road to Staveley and back to Ings.
    60k 1932m of ascent.
    Doesn’t look that bad actually. Just bloody long and you’d be walking all the way up the Garburn Pass if you did that at the end. The climb up Hagg Gill looks a killer.
    It’s on my radar !!!


    Just a thought, some people enjoy tough climbs! I’ll switch my local loop round to mix things up, gives me 2 hard loose climbs which if I manage clean gives immense satisfaction! (It is however better as a descent)

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