Harrogate and Nidderdale
Stats: 39 miles and 1300 feet of ascent
Guys, this is Harrogate, so take your pick. You won’t get welcomed in ‘Betty’s’ tea rooms in sweaty lycra though. Along the route, Pateley Bridge has a couple of good cafes and pubs, whilst the deli makes excellent sandwiches; there’s also toilets and a good restaurant at the Fountain’s Abbey visitor centre.
Introductory ride in the steep climbs of Nidderdale.
1. Head down West Park Stray, turning left at the junction with Beech Grove (traffic lights). Follow Beech Grove around West Park Stray until the junction with Otley Road. Turn right, heading up Otley Road on the first climb of the day. At the junction with Harlow Moor Road (right), turn right and enjoy the descent all the way to the bridge and traffic lights. Get in gear however, because a steep climb up Peny Pot Lane follows.
2. Climb Peny Pot Lane and go straight ahead at the large roundabout. Take the junction on the left down Burley Bank Road and cross over the main A59 with care, heading along Rowden Lane before descending towards the village of Hampsthwaite. At the ‘T’ junction turn right along High Street, then follow the road as it bends around to the left, signed ‘Birstwith 1 1/2 miles’. The road twists and turns through fantastic scenery, along the valley bottom, allowing you a break before the climbs to come.
3. Cycle along, past Hirst Lane on the left, by a small hamlet, before the road ahead bends sharply to the right at a junction on the left signed ‘Menwith Hill’ – take this direction – New Road on maps. At the fork ahead, take the right hand lane, then right again at the junction (Belmont Grosvenor School opposite). Down the hill now until next left (Darley Road), following this as it becomes Birstwith Road – all the way to Darley Head.
4. Turn right after the Wellington Inn, at the B6451 heading towards Dacre. At Dacre turn left at the red phone box and cycle along Dacre Lane for a km until Dike Lane is reached on your right – take this turning. You will continue climbing – but the real climbs are yet to come. Tree lined pastures give way to Moorland scenes as you reach a ‘T’ junction with Nought Moor Lane – turn right towards Pateley Bridge.
Only a couple of miles now until the first tea stop. The road crosses open Moorland before turning sharply to the right and twisting steeply downhill towards Bewerley. Before you begin the descent, stop and enjoy one of the best views in the Dales.
5. Brakes suitably tested, this lane leads into Bewerley and onto Pateley Bridge where you can choose from numerous cafes for your tea stop. Once suitably refreshed, head up the High Street in the direction of Ripon.
Don’t be fooled though – as the road bends sharply right at the top of the High Street, take the junction left (straight on) and ascend Old Church Lane towards Masham, one of the steepest climbs in all the Dales, and a worthy Tour de France celebration climb. There is a bench at the top – use it!
6. Cycle now across Mooorland on a straight and easy road, to a ‘T’ junction. Turn left (signed Laverton 4 1/4 mile). Unfortunately for you, this road drops down to a sharp right hand bend and climbs steeply again, back up to the moor. Stay on this road for approximately 2 miles, until a junction right takes you to Grantley – this is the Greygarth and Dallowgill area, and it is rugged and spectacular – a real hidden gem. Narrow lanes now twist and turn and lead you via Drift Lane into Grantley (2 miles).
At the ‘T’ junction, turn right and immediately left along the very narrow and tree lined lane signed ‘unsuitable for motor vehicles’, that takes you along to Low Grantley. You’ll enjoy banking around turns as the lane heads towards Ripon, climbing to a junction with the B6265.
7. Turn left towards Ripon, then right at the Fountain’s Abbey entrance road and head along to the visitor’s centre for a Brymor Ice Cream or top up of tea. More climbing awaits you, so don’t miss the opportunity. Once you’re ready, turn left out of the visitor’s centre, and down the hill along Fountain’s Lane, passed the side entrance to the Abbey grounds, before turning right at the next junction (signed Sawley, 2 miles).
A steady climb through trees tests your stamina, but a terrific descent awaits you. Stay on this road, ignoring the junction right to Sawley. It has a sting in the tail – as you eventually descend, you cross a small bridge, and the road turns sharply left, ascending steeply.
8. Continue along a straight Roman road, which eventually descends to a junction with the B6165, turning left and heading into Ripley village, where they have great ice cream. From Ripley head along the A61 into Harrogate. Keep on the A61, turning right before the George Hotel, along Swan Road – famous for the hotel that Agatha Christie stayed at – go around the right hand lane of the one way system and back to the left hand side of the Valley Gardens (Valley Drive).
The Valley Gardens are too good to miss. Up to the next roundabout – 2nd exit at the roundabout – right at the ‘T’ junction (Cold Bath Road) and back to Otley Road.
9. A turning left takes you back down to West Park Stray and a well earned rest.