Stats: 11.2 miles,
The George Inn at Thoralby is a superb example of a fine Dales pub and has an excellent menu and ales. Nearby Aysgarth has a National Parks visitor Centre, with restaurant to boot.
Just look at the final descent here guys. Four miles of steep eye watering speed. This is an excellent jaunt for this reason alone. However, the scenery is fantastic and the uphills are all steady. For me, this is one of those rides that you do after lunch, and then relax in the evening; or you keep it for a summer evening and end the ride with a drink at the pub. Either way, it’s a cracking little ride that will make any Dales trip worthwhile.
1. Turn left out of the car park and up the main village street. Opposite Gill Cottage, at the far end of the village is a bridleway to the right, which climbs steeply on good ground. A short twisting climb leads to a gate on the right and a bridleway junction, Take this bridleway to the right, climbing on a stony track north.
2. A field gate leads into a lush meadow where the track is indistinct. Facing straight ahead, from the gate, head towards the far right hand corner of the field. A small wooden gate then leads down a tricky slope, through a stream bed and a field gate onto a walled lane. The initial route along this track is a balance across a wooden sleeper bridge with a rail – take care. However, this is short lived and good ground then leads up steeply before sweeping down at speed to a track junction signed with a footpath left – do not go left. Instead turn right and follow the flowing track as it winds its way down to the road.
3. At the road turn left and head along this narrow lane all the way to the picturesque village of Thornton Rust. At Thornton Rust a car park sign points to the left opposite the village institute. Take this left hand turning and climb the bridleway, a stony track, over a small stream and on up the walled track as it winds its way uphill. It’s now 2 1/2 miles over the moors to Carpley Green.
4. Level ground is soon reached and you go through a field gate then a ford, before turning left at the end of the wall (on the left), now heading across Thornton Rust Moor towards Carpley Green.
A typical Dales Moorland ramble now ensures, rising and falling gently on a comfortably soft track, all the way to a small gate in a wall, passing a ‘permissive path’ sign on the way.
Do not take the permissive path to the right. Stay on the bridleway. Don’t stray off the path…there be demons!
5. The track flows through a couple of fields before descending to Carpley Green, with sweeping views all around. At the lane turn left, through the farmyard, joining Busk Lane (bridleway) as it rises majestically. This walled track is a masterpiece of Dales walled tracks and is guaranteed to wet your appetite for a follow up visit from the other direction. Fear not – our ‘heart of the Dales’ route descends this track. For now though, it’s back to the climbing.
6. After approximately 1 ¾ miles a bridleway sign on the left of the track points along the Stake Road towards Thoralby some 4 miles away – downhill! The initial track is difficult to pick out, but soon leads onto a easily followed track across limestone meadows which falls gently initially before picking up speed as Stake Road becomes Haw Lane.
7. However, please make sure that you stay on the higher bridleway and don’t be tempted to veer off to the lower bridleway through Skellicks Beck. This has recently been resurfaced with rocks as big as a football and will test your rock garden handling skills and probably cost you a set of new wheels – you have been warned. It will draw you down with the new limestone from above – ignore it.
8. Haw Lane on the other hand is a fantastic ride – one of the best – which allows you to release the brakes, get your body well balanced and descend at a rate of knots all the way back to Thoralby. Your eyes will water as the wind rushes by and you’ll have a descent to live in your memory for a very long time. Now all that is necessary is to head for The George and a pint and plan the route for tomorrow, descending Busk Lane.