Leisure and Road Cycling

Yorkshire's not all flat out

Sticking to the tracks, country lanes and cycle paths doesn't mean missing out on our county's great biking opportunities. Road cyclists, tourers and those who just want to take it easy and take in the view are well catered for too. Quiet country roads, byways and a network of cycle paths, there's a lot to see and do, so get on your bike and discover Yorkshire from your saddle.

For free route ideas and maps on road cycling in the Yorkshire Dales see

Day and Family Rides

Yorkshire is a great place to learn how to cycle and offers quieter routes for children so they can cycle in safety whilst being surrounded by birds and trees. These out of the way routes range from forest trails, to disused railways and canal towpaths.

The Cinder Track is a popular route with all cyclists, all year around. One of the most spectacular trails in the north, it runs alongside the North Yorkshire Heritage Coast. Following a disused railway line from Whitby to Scarborough, this traffic-free route has a number of climbs and descents, just to keep things interesting. With good cinder tracks throughout, it's ideal for the more adventurous families. The route is 21.5 miles (34km) one way and is also part of National Route 1 of the National Cycle Network and the Moor to Sea Cycle Route.

The Moor to Sea Cycle network links more than 100 miles of waymarked cycling through the spectacular scenery of the North York Moors National Park, from wide sweeps of open heather moorland to the breathtaking Heritage Coast. Combine a choice of linear routes to make circuits of varying lengths or take a week and cycle the entire length, which links the historic towns of Scarborough, Pickering, Whitby and Great Ayton. You'll get fabulous views of heather moorland, ancient forests, rolling farmland and the spectacular coast along the way from forest tracks, lanes and the former coastal railway.

Try the newest leg - using forest tracks and part of the old Rosedale railway line, it links Easby on the western fringes with Dalby Forest. Along its 34 miles, there's one tough climb up to the moor top, rewarded with a stunning view. The rest is fairly easy, with villages including Rosedale Abbey and Levisham providing welcome refreshment stops and it can be split into smaller sections for those looking for a more leisurely pedal.

Download our leaflet showing some of the cycling routes in the North Yorkshire Coast and North York Moors area.

On a fine day nothing is more relaxing than the York to Selby Cycle Route. This gentle 15 mile ride along one of the first traffic-free cycle paths takes you from the walled city of York south to the historic abbey town of Selby. NCN route 65 initially runs alongside the River Ouse, and passes local landmarks such as the famous Millennium Bridge and 'the planets', a scale-model of the solar system; this is an ideal ride for all abilities.  The route can be done as a return trip or you can use the fact that it connects two railway stations to make the return journey.

You can also head north from York following NCN Route 65 to the impressive Beningbrough Hall, on a delightful 9 mile ride.  Discover more details on this ride and others in Yorkshire, including free cycle maps.

Or how about the Calder Valley Cycleway in West Yorkshire? This picturesque 14 mile route between Sowerby Bridge and Warland is fun for everyone. The well constructed paths, quiet roads, sections of canal towpath and collections of public art en route all make for a great ride.

Another pleasant easy route featuring a collection of artworks, including a flock of Swaledale sheep constructed from recycled industrial scrap, is the Spen Valley Greenway. This 8 mile surfaced off-road cycling route follows a disused railway track between Cleckheaton, Dewsbury and Heckmondwike, eventually linking to Bradford.

Much of the towpath of the historic Leeds-Liverpool canal has been upgraded to allow cycle use. The journey out from cosmopolitan Leeds takes you along a wonderful green corridor, giving easy cycling, and linking some great attractions. There are interesting sights in Leeds itself, Kirkstall Abbey, the Saltaire World Heritage Site, plus the lovely East Riddlesden Hall run by the National Trust. Leeds is a place for shopping, dining out and experiencing the bustling scene many of Yorkshire's cities boast. The distance out to Riddlesden (near Keighley) is 19 miles (30km) on the Aire Valley Towpath Route, with the railway providing one way options with easy access to the stations at Saltaire, Bingley and Crossflats.

More route ideas can be found here.

Cycling Touring

Cycling touring is a great way to discover the county - travelling larger distances and absorbing more of the landscapes and surroundings. Whether you live close by or are on a visit to sample the famous great Yorkshire outdoors, getting on a bike is a safe and swift way of exploring.  After such exertion you can be fully justified in stopping for a slab of cake or a pint of locally brewed beer at any one of the many fine cafés or village pubs. If you're planning to cycle a long distance route and prefer to organise your own accommodation, find out how here.

Yorkshire is lucky enough to be home to many established and new road routes. 

Moor to Sea Cycle Trail
For long distance riders and an ideal first cycle tour, the Moor to Sea Cycle trail offers more than 100 miles of way marked cycling through the spectacular scenery of the North York Moors, from wild and dramatic moorland to the breathtaking Heritage Coast, with views of the gothic Abbey on Whitby's clifftops and the stone ruins of Scarborough's castle. The Network comprises of more than ten linear routes which you can combine to make circuits of varying lengths or take a few days and cycle the entire length, linking the historic towns of Scarborough, Pickering, Whitby and Great Ayton. You'll get fabulous views of heather moorland, ancient forests, rolling farmland and the spectacular coast along the way from forest tracks, lanes and the former coastal railway. This route is signed with way markers and information boards.

2012 will also see the opening of a new leg of the Moor to Sea, a stunning stretch from Dalby to Great Ayton, taking the Network to over 150 miles. Find out more.

White Rose Cycle Route
Distance:123 miles via Selby or 115 miles via Market Weighton
Journey from Hull, along the River Ouse at York and the quiet country roads of the Vale of York, before climbing onto the foothills of the North York Moors.

Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route
146 miles (235km) circular route
Start and finish: Various options - Beverley, Bridlington, Driffield and Malton all have train stations. Follow National Route 66 from York for 18 miles to pick the route up at Pocklington.  
A new signed route, part of the National Cycle Network, around the enchanted rolling hills and coastal cliffs of the Yorkshire Wolds. Discover hidden valleys, wildflowers and wildlife, beautiful beaches and big skies. Pass through picturesque villages, including Hunmanby right on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, market towns and historic houses and churches. The route follows quiet roads and country lanes with some cycle paths and one, mile-long unmade track section. Following the route clockwise is easier. There are tearooms, cafés, pubs and food shops at varying intervals. The NCN Yorkshire Wolds, York & Hull Cycle Routes map is available to purhcase from the Sustrans online shop and local Tourist Information Centres. Starting from Driffield, the Heart of the Wolds Cycle Sportive in April covers much of this delightful countryside.

Yorkshire Dales Cycleway
:130 miles (210 km)
Start and finish: Circular starting at Skipton
A great way to see the best of the rolling Yorkshire Dales, it takes you through six of the finest valleys, starting in Wharfedale, and taking in Coverdale, Swaledale, Wensleydale, Dentdale and Kingsdale.  The route can be divided into six day-stages of 20-25 miles each.  The route follows quiet country lanes and includes some challenging climbs through wild areas, swooping descents and stunning quiet dales to explore.

West Yorkshire Cycleway
Why not warm your legs up on this 150 mile signed circular route that roughly follows the West Yorkshire county boundary, a great ride for the serious cyclist.  Primarily for leisure cycling, the route is mainly on-road and is intended for use by all roadworthy bikes.  Plus there are plenty of great places to stay for the not so serious who don't want to do it all in a day.

Get your kicks on Route 66, the long-distance cycle route which follows the young river Calder, or tackle Route 68, the Pennine Cycleway, another national cycle route devised by Sustrans which wends its way through the heart of our Pennine hill passing through Holmfirth, making it a great stop-off point. The full route is 355 miles and takes between 8-14 days - not for the faint hearted!

No cycling tour of Yorkshire would be complete without climbing the famous Cragg Vale Incline (B6138) - the longest unbroken ascent of any road in England. From the village of Mytholmroyd, the road rises 968 feet over a distance of five and a half miles to open moorland. Enough to give your gears and lungs a tough workout.

Another of Britain's most well known ascents is Holme Moss from Holmbridge to the north and the Woodhead Reservoir to the south, the popular known 'Le Col de Moss' rewards every rider with one of the most stunning picnic spots in Yorkshire. With views of up to 50 miles on a clear, just soak in the vista and relax. After all, it's all downhill from here.

More routes and ideas can be found here.

Coast to Coast Cycle Routes

Way of the Roses Cycle Route
There's the newest coast to coast route, Way of the Roses, just waiting to be tried. With its 170 well-signed miles between Morecambe and Bridlington Bays, it rolls through the Forest of Bowland, Yorkshire Dales and Nidderdale, on its way to York and the Yorkshire Wolds, all enjoyed from cycle paths, country lanes and quieter roads. Just follow the distinctive blue signs bearing red and white roses.

You can enjoy beautiful countryside and historic cities on the Way of the Roses with a fully supported five day tour with Cycle Yorkshire, which includes accommodation, baggage transfer and CTC qualified guide. Start and finish in York with free transfers to Morecambe and return from Bridlington.

Walney to Wear & Whitby (W2W)
You can cycle 'coast to coast' from Walney Island in Cumbria to the fishing town of Whitby via Tan Hill, thanks to Regional Route 52 which runs between Barnard Castle and the historic North Yorkshire port. This well signed route is 171 miles (275km) long and is fully mapped. Add to the adventure by cycling an extra 21.5 miles (34km) along The Cinder Track, the coast-hugging ex-railway track to Scarborough.

The iconic Coast to Coast has to be on your cycling adventure trip-list! Crossing the country through unparalleled beauty of the fells, Dales and Moors, exquisite timeless villages and staying in wonderful accommodation sampling good Yorkshire food and ale. Coast to Coast Packhorse has been helping people do this journey  for over 26 years providing all the support you may need from accommodation and baggage transfers through to route advice, gps files, maps, secure car-parking and transfers to/from your start point and finish. Bespoke service to suit your needs and dates.

Cycling route from Harrogate to Ripley

A new walking, cycling and horse riding route from Harrogate to Ripley, opened on Saturday 25th May 2013.

The new Nidderdale Greenway has been created by reopening the railway viaduct and part of the Harrogate to Ripon railway line for public use, and will give local people the chance to make more of their everyday journeys without having to rely on a car.

Find out more »

Cyclosportives and Audax Rides

You can also sign up for one of the many cyclosportive or audax rides in the area.  Cyclosportives often feature a number of different length loops as challenge rides.  They are organised events which follow way-marked routes, and have a number of refreshment stops along the way. You are normally timed although they are not a race, and so you can always come back the next year to try and improve your time. They can be really good social occasions with hundreds of riders out on course.

Audax rides are organised events that start at 50km and work up to 600km.  You need to be more self-contained, organising your own food and often doing some navigation.

The last decade has seen a year on year increase in the number and geographical spread of cyclosportives, and top events like the Etape du Dales book up very quickly. All of these events pitch road riders, ranging from have-a-go types to would-be racers, against the UK's best, most scenic and most challenging routes.

One Saturday each month from May to September Yorkshire Velo Tours are hosting a fully supported classic day ride. The routes are incredibly varied with each one having its own very distinct character to show off the wide variety of terrain and scenery in the Yorkshire Dales and South Pennines and are an exclusive individual guided and supported experience similar to ‘sportive’ ride in that there is a set route, but are not timed. What you get over and above a typical sportive is a pre-ride bike check, a support vehicle and team mechanic, the benefit of riding in a small group with your own dedicated ride leader and a top café stop. We are also offering the option of a women only ride group on all the Cycle Saturday rides.

Cycling in the North York Moors

The North York Moors cycling offer is one of the best in the country, with superb facilities to attract every type of cyclist, from families and beginners right through to the enthusiast. Once on top of its escarpment, the North York Moors terrain offers attractive cycling with low gradients while large urban populations are located within a few minutes cycle ride from their backdoors in Middlesbrough, Scarborough and others (no cars or other public transport required).

Home to England's largest trail centre at Dalby, the North York Moors National Park has:

• Over 100 miles of off-road cycle tracks from three major cycling centres (Dalby, Guisborough Forest and Sutton Bank);
• More than 300 miles of promoted (and signed) cycle routes on a mixture of forest tracks, disused railways, bridleways and quiet country roads, including the 150 mile Moor to Sea Cycle Network and various Sustrans routes;
• Plus a 500 mile strong network of bridleways, restricted byways and BOATs (Byway open to all traffic) available to mountain bikers confident at route making from a map.
• In addition, the National Park is interwoven with hundreds of miles of quiet country roads that, although not part of designated cycle routes, cyclists already enjoy in large numbers.

The following initiatives are in progress across the National Park:

Sutton Bank - Sutton Bank National Park Centre is the western gateway to the National Park and just 25 miles north of York. We are developing a new centre for cycling with our partners PACE Cycles. PACE have recently soft launched Sutton Bank Bikes which offers cycle hire, training and skills courses, bike wash, repair and servicing, as well as bikes and cycling related retail sales. Hire bikes include tandems, electric bikes and trailer bikes for children alongside standard bikes.

We are developing three signed routes, the first of which has recently opened. ‘Cliff' trail is a 3 mile flat family friendly circular off road cycle ride that in part follows the spectacular cliff edge of Sutton Bank, providing those iconic views for which the area is famous. We are developing two further cycling routes, Fort Trail (7 miles) and Paradise Trail (17.5 miles) which are slightly more difficult but the emphasis for the whole centre is on family friendly fun. Technical and longer mountain bike trails are already available in Dalby Forest where PACE also operates Dalby Bike Barn. The two other trails will be complete by spring 2014 and we will have an official opening of the centre at this time. PACE is using its established contacts within the cycling fraternity to ensure this is a high profile launch.

Dalby Forest -England's largest trail centre (and internationally recognised as one of the best places in the world to go mountaing biking) is undergoing a series of improvements. The Visitor Centre is currently closed for a redesign and refresh and will reopen April 2014. The new improved multi-user Ellerburn Cycle Trail will launch around the same time taking the trail off the Forest Drive (shared with cars entering the Forest) to provide a traffic-free experience suitable for all the family. At the same time, the Forestry Commission is also working on new sections to the Blue cycle trail.

New biking website - NYMNPA is currently developing a new responsive website, with an enhanced visiting section which will also incorporate revamped cycling web pages, including downloadable routes and ideas on where to go biking. Content for the walking pages on our current design (see and specifically for how the downloadable walks appear) illustrate what will also be available for cycling. The new design will apply across the whole website so we can't share that as yet, but this will be completed by spring 2014.

Events - the National Park will be holding a special series of bike skills sessions and mountain bike rides during 2014 primarily aimed at families and beginners during May and June in the run up to the Grand Départ. These will be held at The Moors National Park Centre, Danby. Sutton Bank Bikes and Dalby Bike Barn (a CTC National Centre for Excellence) run skills courses throughout the year and also organise events, with plans to organise some joint events linking the two sites.

NYMNPA co-ordinates an extremely active cycling partnership pushing forward the cycling agenda in the National Park, including Local Authority's, public health specialists, public transport providers, large landowners such as the Forestry Commission, Sustrans and cycling interest groups. We are overcoming the highlighted barriers to cycling in the following ways:

• Fitness levels: The North York Moors has some of the most exciting level off-road opportunities in England, from the new Cliff Trail at Sutton Bank to easy routes in Dalby Forest, including the improved Ellerburn Trail outlined above, plus the 20 mile traffic free coastal route along the old railway line from Scarborough to Whitby. NYMNPA is currently developing plans for health promotion and physical activity with the new Health & Well-being Boards which involves cycling. There are large urban populations with severe health inequalities, which are only a few minutes cycle ride from the National Park boundaries.
• Concerns about safety: NYMNPA is working with neighbouring councils to provide easy, safe routes into the National Park from nearby urban areas, including a connection from Middlesbrough. Cycle training is provided at the CTC's National Centre for Excellence at Dalby Forest, offering the full suite of courses and at Sutton Bank National Park Centre, where our investment has included the development of a new cycle skills training area. The National Park Authority's Bike it! Campaign has left a legacy of trained cycle safety providers and active cycle training groups.
• Lack of bike/equipment/hire: Dalby Bike Barn and Sutton Bank Bikes provide bike hire for all abilities, including a large range of adaptive bikes at Dalby and electric bikes at Sutton Bank. There are a number of other bike hire operators in and around the National Park, which will be highlighted on the new website. We are also actively involved in the Get Yorkshire Cycling campaign (legacy of the Grand Depart) and the aspiration to have bike banks across Yorkshire.
• Not knowing routes/where to go: Dalby Forest as England's largest trail centre has maps available illustrating 70 miles of traffic free routes, from forest tracks for beginners right through to the World Cup Cross Country black route for the most experienced. The 150 mile Moor to Sea Cycle Route is available to purchase at a low cost from our website shop and local outlets. A map exists for the new trails at Sutton Bank. NYMNPA is developing a responsive cycling hub (as outlined earlier) on its website to included downloadable routes, which will be badged as part of the Tour de France Grand Départ legacy.
• Transporting bikes by train/car: Through our cycling partnership, the National Park Authority is working with train providers to make it easier to take bikes on the train. We are investigating the provision of cycle hire at railway stations.