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  • Lakes – Sty head and Stake Pass loop
  • Premier Icon nixie
    Full Member

    How’s does this fair in damper conditions. In the lakes at the moment and thinking of doing this loop solo (http://fattyres.co.uk/routes/lake-district/styhead-stake-pass) with ride out from Ambleside. Weather looks OK for tomorrow (Wednesday) but if it’s a bog fest will find another route. The aerial shots seem to show a well defined path.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Full Member

    Will be fine. Would’ve thought ice here and there was a possibility early tomorrow. Normal advice is to stay on the west side of Langstrath beck until you get to the footbridge just where Stake Pass turns uphill, rather than follow the BW all the way up the other side.

    Premier Icon Ally G
    Free Member

    Only done it in summer during a dry spell. Predominantly stone based but I’d imagine parts of Langstrath could get quite boggy after a lot of rain. It’s also a big day – the carry up Rosset Ghyll is hard going – and one to treat with a degree of caution in the winter months

    Premier Icon TomB
    Full Member

    There’s very little bog, except on the way up langstrath valley, and even that shouldn’t dissuade you. Once you’ve done the relentless hike a bike up Rosset it’s pretty easy going, fabulous from real hause to sty head and on to seathwaite (although the boulder field at Stu head tarn outflow is tedious. The last climb up stake pass to finish is pretty easy pushing but the right hairpins make it difficult to ride. Have fun!

    Premier Icon richardkennerley
    Full Member

    Make sure you post a review! 👍

    Premier Icon TomB
    Full Member

    Too late to edit silly auto correct- real hause should be Esk hause!

    Premier Icon MrSparkle
    Free Member

    Ok but who is this Stu Head fella? ;0)

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Full Member

    And are the left hairpins easier? 🙂

    Premier Icon paul0
    Free Member

    Normal advice is to stay on the west side of Langstrath beck until you get to the footbridge just where Stake Pass turns uphill, rather than follow the BW all the way up the other side.

    Good advice…. we slogged along the bridleway on the east side recently, watching some walkers making faster progress on the much easier path opposite.

    Descent from Stake pass down into Landgale has been ‘paved’….I’m sure this is very old news but the last time I did it was probably 25 years ago! How much you ride and enjoy may depend on skills and bike…. XC bikes laden with gear for a 2 day ride wasn’t totally rideable for us. Still a great route for some ‘proper’ mountain biking.

    Premier Icon nixie
    Full Member

    Thanks all, sounds very much a go then. Maps out at 50k and 1750m of climbing starting from Ambleside so definitely a big day. I’m not afraid of a bit of hike a bike, done a few Lakeland routes in the past with 1+ hour pushes (Up Nan Bield from Hawswater for example). I’ll try to ride as much as possible however on my own I’ll be airing on the cautious side. Definitely planning the easier side of Langstrath beck.

    Make sure you post a review!

    Will try too, I’m not the best author but planning to take a camera.

    Premier Icon thekettle
    Free Member

    As others have said it’s not a boggy route so should be fine in that respect. Black ice on the north facing areas above 400m yesterday (I binned it on Wrynose pass along with another rider and a car!) and a few snow patches higher up. Keep a wary eye out for ice around Esk Hause, it’s a long walk back if you’re solo! Should be awesome otherwise.

    Premier Icon nixie
    Full Member

    Thanks thekettle will go cautious when higher. Don’t fancy an icey slip. I’m taking way more layers than I think I’ll need as looks like there could be a reasonable amount of wind chill.

    Premier Icon richardkennerley
    Full Member

    Make sure you post a review!

    Will try too, I’m not the best author but planning to take a camera.

    Don’t worry, I’m not expecting a 6 page magazine worthy article!

    I ride alone and fancy trying this route or a variation of it at some point so will be interested to see how you get on 👍

    Premier Icon justinbieber
    Full Member

    I’ve done this route several times (starting from Stonethwaite though), and it’s an absolute gem. Holds up pretty well in winter too: https://www.pinkbike.com/news/a-lakeland-epic-lake-district-2015.html

    Premier Icon rascal
    Free Member

    I did a loop from Grange in Borrowdale that took in the Langstrath climb up Stake Pass and down Styhead back into Borrowdale on my own in late November last year. Off-road as much as I could to Rosthwaite and Stonethwaite into Langstrath and stuck to the right hand side pretty much until you crossed the bridge at the top end of the valley under the never-ending hairpins of Stake Pass. You can ride a good bit of it but there’s that much glacial moraine and boulders you (I anyway) can’t get much momentum before you have to lift over stuff again. Lots of water around which made progress slow. The top of the pass was pretty boggy – I headed right at the path junction – straight ahead took you into Great Lansdale – and went a bit off-piste as path gets a bit vague on the ground – mega-boggy between there and Angle Tarn under Bowfell. Sloggy push/bit of riding up to Esk Hause and lunch! From there down is pure techy joy! It was getting on for mid afternoon when I came down past Sprinkling Tarn under Great End with long cold shadows and very few people about there so a spill on some insane tech bits was not really very appealing so rode it safe. When I got down Styled Tarn I was greated with sunlight again and hundreds of walkers on their way down into Borrowdale. Great armoured corkscrew of a slow, controlled descent with walkers saying I was mad 😉 Faster when you get off that section then climbed out of Seatoller and blasted down past Castle Crag to the car. Finished with a nice pint shivering by a log fire at the Pheasant in Keswick! The descent was ace but took me a bloody long time to get to the point – I found Langstrath and Stake Pass a real chore if I’m honest – glad I’ve done it but wouldn’t hurry to do it again.

    Premier Icon tomaso
    Full Member

    Normal advice is to stay on the west side of Langstrath beck until you get to the footbridge just where Stake Pass turns uphill, rather than follow the BW all the way up the other side.

    Good advice…. we slogged along the bridleway on the east side recently, watching some walkers making faster progress on the much easier path opposite

    Did the BW left path up Langstrath earlier this year with a monster hangover and it was a bugger of a slog with little flow.

    I’ve done it in the snow, rain and sunshine and it is always a cracker. Not a long ride in miles but it’s a good day out on the fells.

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    I found Langstrath and Stake Pass a real chore if I’m honest

    On a grim day it’s a slog, but Langstrath is a beautiful valley, and the switchbacks up Stake don’t take long really, the worst slog is across to Esk Hause, especially if it’s been really wet.

    I must be into double figures for that loop now though, it’s possibly my favourite Lakes descent down to Stockley bridge.

    Premier Icon nixie
    Full Member

    Well I made it around. Feeling broken at the moment. 54km in nearly 8 hours. More later when I’ve eaten and sunk some beers.

    Premier Icon nixie
    Full Member

    Wednesday turned out to be even nicer than the forecast suggested. Bit nippy first thing with frost in the valleys and some, but not much, ice on the fells. I started with am easyish warmup over Loughrigg fell, along Elterwater and on to Stickle Croft.


    Over Elterwater looking towards the passes.

    Here I joined the route proper. The rocky path from Stickle Croft was an ominous sign of things to come as the pushing up started. This was only a short section before the path met the valley floor for an nice pedal up th valley.


    Are we going up here!

    The climb up Rosset Gill was hard and slow. Great as my bike is going down its not easy too push and the coil shock reservoir was in the way meaning I couldn’t properly shoulder it. This was lesson one for the day and something I’ll need to sort before attempting something like this route again. The view from the top was worth it though. After the initial hike I was expecting to be able to ride a bit towards Esk Hause but that turned out to not be the case. There was the odd bit of down but the up was basically still pushing. Most of the path has been trail armoured which I found annoying to ride.

    The descent from Esk Hause to Sty Head was good fun but hard. I was struggling to get a rhythm on the trail armoured surface and the bike didn’t feel good (more on this later).

    I was looking forward to the descent down to Seathwaite however this turned into an exercise in frustrating as I ended up pushing downhill! My arms were taking a battering on the trail armour surface and I lost confidence. I’d not have been able to ride the whole descent anyway but should have been ok with more than I managed. Pushing down after so much effort to get up there is bloody demoralising. At this point it felt like I’d gone for a days hike rather than a ride.

    Langstrath Valley was lovely but again even on the footpath side involved significant sections of pushing and that was before I reached the pass proper. It became a war of attrition with section after section of unrideable rocks, not helped by dropping my pork pie snack in the mud 😢.

    The pass climb has many sections that gradient wise I could ride, but those switch backs are so tight you’d need to do trials manoeuvres to make it around them (not something I can do on a full sus or on this sort of slope).

    Down was much the same as the previous time. I had to walk about two thirds before the gradient reduced enough that I was comfortable riding. Back on the valley floor I started to find.some rhythm again (a bit late) and also worked out why the bike felt wrong with a strange noise coming from the forks. I must have knocked the fork lock out when carrying at some point as it was on (I never use this so hadn’t thought to check). That explains why my arms got such a battering 🙄.

    A quick spin down the valley back towards Ambleside and a final bit of fun over Loughrigg terrace and I was done. Would I try the route again, at the moment no. Maybe in a group where I’d be more comfortable go for more of the technical bits but solo there was just too much pushing. I’d more likely attempt segments as part of other routes but for the most part there was too much pushing and I’ll be happy if I never see trail armouring again!

    Premier Icon Garry_Lager
    Full Member

    Nice writeup mate – sounds like a bit of a tester on your own!

    We were going to do this exact route earlier in the year from Ambleside but decided against it because of the Stake pass descent – uncertain how rewarding it was in the context of the ride (plus we were a mixed ability group). Hard circuit like that needs more than one great descent.

    Starting Keswick and tacking Esk Hause onto the Borrowdale bash seems like a better route?

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    How to carry

    I take it form your comment you were trying to carry with your arm through the front triangle? the method above is far better, doesn’t matter what kind of shock you have.

    The only part of the descent to seatoller that gets me off my bike is the boulder field by the stream, as there’s no path as such for 200 metres or so, the rest of it before, and after is just amazing (if you’re comfortable riding rocky stuff?)

    Tbf even a bad day in the lakes is a good day in my book. 🙂

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    Starting Keswick and tacking Esk Hause onto the Borrowdale bash seems like a better route?

    I’d wholeheartedly agree!

    Keswick-castlerigg-walla-ashness-watendlath-rosthwaite-langstrath-esk hause-sty head-stockley-seatoller* and then up onto dale head/robinson, or cat bells would be a bloody awesome day in my book, I need to plan this!.

    * I tend to not bother with Castle crag these days, as it’s a bit meh.

    Premier Icon nixie
    Full Member

    Yeah even though I found it really damn hard it was still an enjoyable day out in the fells. The scenery is stunning and it’s hard to have a bad time when surrounded by that.

    I’d love to be able to ride the whole of that descent. Think I can ride more than I did but it just didn’t happen. Better to walk than push it and fall.

    Yes was trying to carry with arm through the frame. It worked with my previous bike but not the rocket. Have never tried the on the back technique. Will have a practice at that as does look more comfortable.

    Premier Icon JonEdwards
    Free Member

    Done variations on this before.

    Couple of years back starting from langdale – Rossett Ghyll, Esk hause, Sty Head, Seatoller, Stake pass (but did the bridleway down the left of Langstrath). Ace descents, Rossett was as piggish (although strangely satisfying) as you’d expect. Stake pass not too bad – mostly a push rather than a carry.

    Earlier this year did The Bash + Langstrath (footpath!), up Stake Pass, then tried to cut across from the top to Esk Hause. I’d heard of it on here, and it ddn’t look too bad on the map, but pretty horrible on the ground, unless I missed something. A lot of stop/start mixed riding/pushing across tussocky grass. With hindsight I wish I’d done down to Langdale and back up Rossett Gyhll to get the descent. Then Esk Hause, Sty Head and back onto The Bash. Decent day out on the hills, although I was feeling it towards the end having done Grizedale/Whiteless/Rigg Beck the day before plus a cheeky lap of Ullock Pike to finish with.

    Premier Icon martinhutch
    Full Member

    I’m exactly the same when I’m on my own somewhere a bit more remote, I need some sort of confidence/flow to get going or I just keep giving myself permission to back off.

    Premier Icon richardkennerley
    Full Member

    Really interesting to read an honest report rather than just saying its all amazing. As a solo rider (and not a brilliant one) I think I’ll hold off until a guaranteed decent day where I can take my time (next year then!!)

    Premier Icon Nobeerinthefridge
    Free Member

    I’m exactly the same when I’m on my own somewhere a bit more remote, I need some sort of confidence/flow to get going or I just keep giving myself permission to back off.

    Absolutely, I totally agree, and I hope I didn’t come across to nixie that I’d have done any different if I felt out of my zone. 🙂

    Premier Icon fathomer
    Full Member

    Not read the whole thread but looks ace, bookmarked for next year 😁

    Premier Icon nixie
    Full Member

    Not at all @nobeerinthefridge. I was very aware as I came down stake pass that I was probably going to be the last person down it in daylight. I’d seen no one behind in the valley on the way up and those I could see lower on the descent wouldn’t have even know I was there.

    @richardkennerley glad it was of some use. I’d consider myself a reasonable but not outstanding rider and at the moment I’m pretty fit.

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