6 of the best cycle routes in Yorkshire
- Credit: Archant
Plenty of cycling action in Yorkshire this September as the UCI World Championships ride in to the county. If you fancy saddling up and taking it a bit more gently, Richard Peace suggests some routes to suit all abilities.
Upper Don & Dove Valley Trails
This is one of the most family-friendly sections of the coast-to-coast walking, cycling and horseriding route known as the Trans Pennine Trail. Best explored from the attractive market town of Penistone, you can head east onto the Dove Valley Trail (note short road climb) to visit family attractions Worsbrough Mill Country Park, Wigfield Petting Farm and Wentworth Castle Gardens (just off the trail) and Old Moor RSPB centre - around 25.5 miles there and back. To the west of Penistone is a fine ride through Pennine scenery up to Dunford Bridge, some 13.5 miles there and back.
More info: transpenninetrail.org.uk
FAMILY ADVENTURE ROUTE
Scarborough to Whitby Railpath, The Cinder Track
Linking some of Yorkshire's finest coastal resorts, this former rail line is a slightly rougher, hillier railpath than is typical of many railpath cycle routes. It's 21 miles one way, though Scarborough to Robin Hood's Bay is a more manageable 15 miles one way with steady climbs at Ravenscar and Hawkser. There are great views over the protected North Yorkshire and Cleveland Heritage Coast. The route into Whitby is particularly impressive, crossing the magnificent Larpool viaduct and heading on roads downhill to the bridge over the Esk Estuary with views of the ancient abbey ahead of you.
More info: sustrans.org.uk
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ROAD TOURING ROUTE
Yorkshire Dales Cycle Way
The Yorkshire Dales Cycleway (YDCW), is a challenging 130 mile circular route visiting most of the major dales within the National Park. Starting and finishing in Skipton, highlights of this fully signed route include Dales favourites Burnsall, Settle, Wensleydale, Kettlewell, Bolton Abbey and Grassington. Many cyclists will find it is ideal for a leisurely six-day tour.
More info: cyclethedales.org.uk
MOUNTAIN BIKING ROUTE
Calder to Aire Link Route and the South Pennines
There aren't many mountain bike routes in Yorkshire specifically signed as such. The Calder-Aire link route that goes from St Ives near Bingley to join the Pennine Bridleway National Trail at Heptonstall Moor north of Hebden Bridge (itself a mountain biking Mecca) is one such route. The 17-mile linear route uses easy-to-follow quiet country lanes and bridleways and is a great introduction to mountain biking. If you want something more testing you could try some of the trails around Hebden Bridge or follow my own Pike to Peak route that links Hebden Bridge to Holmfirth on the moors above Hebden Bridge (this latter route is detailed on my map South Pennines & Peak District Off-road Cycle Maps ISBN 978-1901464382).
More info: nationaltrail.co.uk
Leeds to Liverpool Canal (Aire Valley Greenway)
Much of the canal towpath to the west of Leeds has been improved for cyclists beyond all recognition in recent years and the initial sections are fine, wide tarmac. At rush hour in Leeds the towpath suddenly fills with workers, pedalling and head down, getting to and from work as quick as their legs will carry them. Outside of rush hour it's a verdant, tranquil corridor where the city is left quickly behind. Kirkstall Abbey is within a metaphorical stone's throw of the path and other attractions on or near the route include Rodley Nature Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Site Saltaire village and Bingley's Five Rise and Three Rise locks. Beyond Bingley the towpath route continues through Riddlesden (with its National Trust property of East Riddlesden Hall) and there is a signed link route on minor roads to Silsden.
More Info: sustrans.org.uk
York has to be Yorkshire's premier cycling city and any visitor will notice plenty of 'utility cyclists' (ie doing their shopping) of all ages, male and female, out and about on bikes in the city centre. With strenuous efforts made by the council to build up a decent network of safe cycle lanes there are also some fine leisure routes. A railpath runs south from the centre some 15 miles to Selby, taking in the lovely Millenium Bridge over the river Ouse and York Racecourse and passing close by the pretty villages of Bishopthorpe, Naburn and Riccall. Also look out for scale models of the solar system's planets passed along the way. Heading north up the Ouse from York centre on the riverpath, using National Cycle Network (NCN) route 65, you pass through the lovely meadows of Clifton Ings and then on to minor roads leading to the fine National Trust property of Beningbrough Hall. Other signed routes around and through the medieval heart of the city include and orbital cycle route, NCN66 which is particularly scenic as it passes through the university area at Heslington and the Way of the Roses cycle route which heading east out of the city visits Murton and Dunnington villages.
More info: sustrans.org.uk