Grizedale has been on my to-ride list for a while, and as a round of the PMBA Enduro Series that Dan and I are competing in this year is being held there, we decided it was high time we checked it out. Having ridden, and loved, Whinlatter and some natural routes in the Lakes, I had high hopes for Grizedale, even though I’d heard that it wasn’t quite as good.
Located near Hawkshead in the heart of the Lake District, it was a fairly straightforward two-hour drive from Liverpool. We arrived to find the car park rammed, at which point I remembered that it was the Half Term holidays. Fortunately though, most of the people there must have been doing other activities or riding the more family-oriented trails, as we didn’t encounter many other people on the trails. Either that or they were riding trails that we knew nothing about.
The main marked route at Grizedale is the 16km long, red-graded North Face Trail, so, as it seemed the best option, we decided to follow that. It starts off with a decent enough singletrack climb with a couple of sections that are difficult to negotiate, but much of the route consists of long stretches of fire road interspersed with short single track deviations running alongside. There are some rocky sections, some easy-to-ride boardwalk, a few small drops/steps but none of it is particularly challenging, and there isn’t even much in the way of gradient to spice things up.
After the initial climb we noticed signs for a “Black Route” that hadn’t been marked on map at the start of the trail. As we were unsure where it would end up, we decided to continue on The North Face Trail, although, with hindsight, we should probably have sacked it off in favour of a couple of laps of the black.
Whilst a pleasant enough ride in stunning surroundings, The North Face Trail itself is pretty underwhelming. Admittedly it is only graded red, but I would’ve expected it to be at least a little more technically challenging, particularly on the descents. I’ve ridden blue trails that have got more going on.
Arriving back at the forest hub feeling like we’d barely even got going was a bit of an anti-climax, but it was made all the better for being greeted by these little dudes at the end, who were almost worth the journey there alone!
Since returning, I’ve read a few threads on other people’s experiences of Grizedale – something I should probably have done before we went – and I believe there are lots of natural trails in the forest that are much more interesting than the marked North Face Trail. As there certainly wasn’t much on The North Face Trail that seemed suitable for an enduro, I’m guessing that most of the stages of the forthcoming PMBA round will be on unmarked trails, so I‘m really looking forward seeing what else the area has to offer on April 17th.
Have you ridden at Grizedale? What do you think of it? Got any top tips?!