Stats: 26.6 miles
Both Ingleton and Clapham have excellent facilities. For me, Ingleton scrapes it for the cafes, with a wide variety. The cafe above Inglesport is excellent, and ‘Bernies’ on the High Street has good portions that’ll fill you up, whilst being a bit more welcoming to muddied up mountain bikers. We’ve started this route at Ingleton, where there is an excellent Youth Hostel, and a good selection of bed and breakfast accommodation.
This is a hard route, with some steep climbing and good rolling descents. Although not our hardest route, it covers some rough ground and takes you into the real Dales, as you circumnavigate Ingleborough, so make sure that your map reading skills are up to speed. It can get warm out in the hills in the summer months, so take plenty of water on this route. There are few places to stop and refresh. The best option is the Three Peaks Cafe at Horton in Ribblesdale. Like all good rides, it finishes on a downhill.
1. Turn left out of the car park and follow the minor road signed for Clapham. This is a 5km stretch of tarmac to warm up along.
2. At Clapham turn left into Eggshell Lane and then into Church Lane, crossing the bridge. At the end of the churchyard turn left, heading for the tunnels and Austwick (signed), before turning left at a junction onto Long Lane (bridleway).
3. (Grid SD750694) Follow Long Lane to a gate onto Moorland, bearing slightly right and following the grassy track. Go through another gate and keep right to keep the high point to your left. Continue to a concrete plinth, turning left and then right and onto another plinth. The bridleway is well signed all the way past Long Scar and across limestone countryside to a track ‘X’ roads at Sulber, where you continue along the bridleway north, ahead towards Borrins where it twists right and down to the tarmac lane.
4. Once on tarmac, head south along the lane and into Horton in Ribblesdale, continuing through the village, over the bridge to the Crown Inn.
Now is the chance for a brew at the nearby Three Peaks Cafe, or continue by turning left and alongside the Crown to the bridleway signed ‘Pennine Way’ and ‘Ribble Way’ which eventually lead you past Sell Gill Holes.
5. After 6km of this bridleway a junction of bridleways is reached. Take the left hand fork, down to Ing Gill. This track is signed as part of the Pennine Way, so continue on this until you reach Ling Gill Bridge. Go over the bridge and turn right on the track, continuing on it until the junction with the Dales Way. Turn left and head towards Ribblehead.
6. At the Ribblehead road junction a van is usually parked up which serves teas etc. Make use of this before the next short but steep climb, from the road, follow the track (signed bridleway) which leads off towards the viaduct, going below the arches to Gunnerfleet Farm. Go around buildings to a ‘T’ junction, turning right and on to another junction (bridleway), turning left (Scar End), keeping on the track until it breaks right
Go through a gate on the left, through fields to a waymark that directs you right. This track will lead you all the way to Ellerbeck Gill.
7. A vague and boggy track in the wet now leads for some 3 km, all the way to limestone pavement above Twistleton Scar. When you reach the notch in the Scar (edge) enjoy a twisting descent all the way to Scar End and tarmac.
8. Now follow the roads all the way back to Ingleton and beans on toast at Bernies.
Hutton Roof MTB
Stats: 8.5 miles and 1100 feet of ascent
Not many opportunities, though there’s the Plough at Lupton.
Although this ride makes an evening spin or a consolation prize if central Lakeland is washed out, it is also a charming outing in its own right. This corner of Cumbria is massively overlooked in favour of the famous haunts but proves to be pleasant, rolling limestone country.
If you want to get the road section out of the way first (and save the highlight descent to the end) then start as close as you can to Holme Park Farm at 530474.
1. Mosey north on the A6070 under the imposing pudding-basin of Farleton Knott. Don’t worry too much about the urgent thrum from the motorway as you’ll be parting from it soon.
2. Take a right at Duke’s Bridge through Farleton. Ignore two lefts tempting you across the canal and also ignore a right fork into Puddlemire Lane then dink over Farleton Beck at Nook Bridge and fork left to join the A65 at Summerdale Nursery (MS on 1:25000 map).
3. Turn right on the A65 then soon left at the “VR” postbox. The road climbs slightly, past a house renovation project on the right. At the power lines, take the bridleway on the right.
4. Keep climbing, ignoring turns on the right and another bridleway joining from the left. Stick to broadly the same line, past a big ash tree (assuming it survives die-back) heading above a phone mast via a diagonal, gorsey wall with a small wind turbine on the left.
5. Now go through the roaming pygmy goats and pecking chickens of Lupton High, contouring to a huge meadow crank-deep with grasses in summer. (Parents will find themselves reciting the appropriate passage from We’re Going On A Bear Hunt at this point) Swish through this on a diagonal line, becoming defined at a gate with a tree stump at the bottom.
6. Enter a sunken lane with some stony sections and pass some horse paddocks to re-emerge on the road at the 107m spot height.
7. Go left on the A65 until you reach Thompson Fold and a bridleway on your right (when this ride was researched, this section was out-of-bounds due to some barn conversion work but there were bridleway signs at both ends so it should be navigable)
8. Emerge at Badger Gate with its tiny duck pond and boat house then turn right on to bridleway signed to Newbiggin. This is a narrow lane flanked by deep hedges and richly carpeted with buttercups, campion and nettles. This makes it a memorable section, especially if clad in shorts. Maybe it needs someone with chariot scythes on their wheels to strim it down a bit. At one point, you go over a funny undercroft (perhaps a sheep shelter?) underneath a gate.
9. At the road, turn left then immediately right toTown End Farm.
10. After the house called Barrowdale, take the next left. If the bridleway sign is lost in elderflower, look out for the blue tape on the gate sign. After a lovely, slanting climb, ignore a right turn and drop slightly through Whin Yeats farmyard. Leave on the concrete farm road, turning right at the public road.
11. Turn right again at the Limestone Link sign. There are many forks, but aim just to the right of a limestone tor. Two gates appear ahead and the track becomes much better defined. Then finish with a flourish on a cracking descent furnished with rattlesome rocks to Holme Park Farm.
click below for gpx file
Heart of the Dales
Stats: 36.3 miles and 2988 feet of ascent
Horton is the start of the famous ‘Three Peaks’ walk, so there are ample facilities. Public toilets are at the side of the car park. A couple of good cafes are within hobbling distance, and the Crown Inn offers good B&B, as do numerous other places in the vicinity. Nearby is the town of Settle, with even more extensive facilities. Bainbridge offers refuelling opportunities at the Rose and Crown.
This is a fantastically varied ride through the heart of the Dales. It packs in five serious climbs and enough teeth-rattling descents to leave the keenest rider satisfied. It has every surface on the menu – solid stone, rubble, chippings, grass, water splashes, fire road and even a few stretches of tarmac. The route here will test your stamina, your map reading, and your bike! The climbs are hard, but the descents are superb, with views to last a lifetime.
1. From Horton, slip round the back of The Crown, on the right, where the road dinks left. The byway is signposted to Birkwith Moor. Climb steadily on a stony drove road, ignoring any left forks.
Enter coniferous forest and follow a good track through the trees until the landscape starts opening out again around High Green Field. Keep avoiding left turns. The road becomes tarmac and falls gently into Langstrothdale at Beckermonds.
2. Hang a left here at 319m and dig in for the road climb up Oughtershaw Side to 589m, the highest road in the Dales. It’ll test your legs and your mind, as you enter the realms of Dales mountain biking.
On a clear day, the views are stunning, including south west to the sea at Heysham and east as far as Carlton Bank – almost coast to coast. Wild Boar Fell looks pretty tasty, too.
3. Follow the road down through a L-R zigzag but, where it plummets diagonally left to Hawes, fork right onto the Roman Road (Cam Road). Soon, Semer Water appears on the right. You probably already know it’s one of only three natural lakes in Yorkshire; the other two being Malham Tarn and Gormire Lake. But you probably didn’t know that Semer Water is a rare sheet of inland salt water. Hydrologists have attributed this to the tears of joy from mountain bikers as the descent becomes apparent.
4. It’s almost as if the Romans had set out to create the perfect MTB trail, leading arrow-straight towards the delights of Bainbridge. Be ready to give way to the Burtersett-Countersett road but, otherwise, it’s a fast, direct run. Get some nourishment in Bainbridge because you’ve still got three climbs to look forward to.
5. Leave the village green on the Leyburn Road. then swing right onto the Stalling Busk road after the bridge. Climb on tarmac to a radio mast and turn left here, signposted to Carpley Green. Semer Water looks good, nestling in Raydale to your right while the romantic, Arthurian fortress of Addlebrough rises impressively on the left.
6. Pass through the farm then trundle south to Stake Allotments but don’t expect cloth-capped gaffers bent over leeks – this is a mixture of rough pasture and peat haggs. Keep going south – you’ll need to turn left at a junction of trails.
7. Plunge down a rattly descent into upper Wharfedale – resisting the temptation to make the trail any wider. After all, you don’t want your suspension to miss out on the fun, do you? At the road, turn right then accelerate to warp speed down the road to Cray. Keep your wits about you, though, as you’ll need to fork right down a beautiful, narrow lane to Hubberholme. Go over the bridge by the church and turn right at The George.
8. Follow the road as far as Raisgill and turn left by the side of a row of cottages (“No motor vehicles” sign on gate). Climb round the back of the cottages, past an incongruous summer house, onto bracken-clad slopes. This is Horse Head Moor which, if you’re tiring, will be as welcome as a present from the Mafia. Do not be ashamed to push for a bit – you need to save some juice for Foxup Moor. But no matter your weariness, you’re going to love reaching the gate on the unusually well-defined watershed. First, the views down into Littondale are crowned by a magnificent prospect of Pen-y-Ghent and Ingleborough. But, more, immediately, the descent is a gem – a heady mix of grassy ribbons, rutted swoops, rubble-rattles and stream-
9. At the road, turn your exhilarated arse right to Foxup farm. Keep an eye for the bridleway through the gate on the left (signposted Horton). Climb up grassy pasture then zag to the right a couple of times through gates. Just after a steep climb at 450m, contour right on a narrow, grassy path.
10. Keep contouring except where a signpost invites you slightly higher to a good track skirting Plover Hill. Descend to the Horton Moor path up Pen-y-Ghent. Dink left a few metres here and the descent path will be seen – initally sketchy but improving. With first Ingleborough, then Pendle Hill as your beacon, head down to the final, blistering descent into Horton. – accompanied by a fusillade of bouncing rocks.
Stats: 10 miles and 1493ft of ascent
Ample in Reeth, including some great pubs. The Dales Bike Centre does brilliant grub and has a top draw bunkhouse that is better kitted out than most B&Bs. Nuff said…just get there and ride.
Setting out from Healaugh this route climbs straight away – sorry Garry. The track is however good and allows you to gain height. The initial section does lack clear signage, so be careful.
Our description should keep you on track – we get lost so that you don’t have to! After the start the track crosses moorland on it’s way to a better stony track which eventually takes you to Surrender Bridge via some fast singletrack.
It’s then a case of a slog to the top of Great Pinseat before whizzing down the twisting lose track, taking advantage of the opportunities for air. A short piece of tarmac, then across the moor again, before a fast descent to Healaugh and the Dales Bike Centre.
1. From Healaugh take the road towards Gunnerside for about 200 yards before turning up right on a small lane to Birk Park as you leave the village. Climb steeply until a gated driveway to the right, signed ‘private Road’ (just before crossing the small bridge). Take this bridleway, seen in the image below and climb steadily.
2. The bridleway soon enters the moorland by a walled meadow area, with a footpath going off to the left and the bridleway staying straight ahead. Be careful here to stick to the bridleway. A short walled section of meadow leads up to Novia Scotia farm before joining a better track which in turn leads to a rocky double track. Follow this, through a small gate which leads steeply down a ravine (fully ridable in dry conditions only), crossing the stream before shouldering the bike and climbing the steep steps (mountainbikeneering) which lead to the heather moor.
3. This is initially boggy in places but eventually opens to sweet rocky singletrack (image above) that speeds you along before crossing above old lead mine ruins and down to Surrender Bridge. By now Garry and I had both been over the bars; but this was down small bogs and misjudgement.
4. From Surrender Bridge climb the rocky track that takes you up Great Pinseat to the moonscape summit. Cross the summit and descend Reeth High Moor on the twisting rocky track, letting go of the brakes and holding the seat of your pants as you grab some air on the bumps and jumps.
5. Re-joining the Langthwaite road, turn left for a short distance before leaving the road onto the bridleway to the right. This track drops down to the stream, which is crossed before the track leads you across soft moorland and along a good track which eventually hardens under the wheels and speeds you back above Novia Scotia and onto the metalled road down to Healaugh.
This steepens sharply, twisting and turning before spitting you out in the village of Healaugh.
Now time for a pub at Reeth or the Dales Bike Centre for tea and medals and some crack about this great ride.
Stats: 12.4 miles
Reeth has ample facilities for everyone. Nearby is the top-rated Grinton Youth Hostel, but for me you can’t beat the Dales Mountain Bike Centre. Excellent accommodation, advice, and they’ll fix your bike for you as well. Stuart has a wealth of knowledge of the area.
This is one of those routes that you should do as a warm down, before you head off home, having stayed at Swaledale for a weekend of biking. It will leave you with a great big grin on your face, and remind you to come back again for more of the same. It’s only the distance that stops it being classed as a hard route.
1. Head out of the centre and turn right towards Grinton. Go over the bridge and as the road bends to the left, take the junction ahead, climbing the steep tarmac road all the way to the top, to open country and Grinton Youth Hostel.
2. At the Youth Hostel turn right onto the track, which soon crosses another road, and head onto the moor through a gate, keeping on the main bridleway that heads due west, across Harkerside Moor.
This rises and drops, and twists and turns on loose gravel, giving a lovely ride, with fantastic views over towards Reeth.
3. Keep on this main track all the way to a large track junction, near lead mines at Whitaside Moor. Keep left, turning uphill towards ‘Morley’s Folly’ (OS map).
4. Follow this, the ‘Apedale Road’ as it descends at speed, twisting and turning, and testing your braking modulation, all the way to a gate at ‘Dents House’ by some sheepfolds.
Southerners best Google these before setting off! They’re made of stone, very old, about a 1.7 metre in height, and they’re enclosures used for keeping sheep in. How’s that for a clue!
5. Turn left (north) and climb steadily past the line of shooting butts to old lead mining waste at the moor top (Height of Greets).
6. Pick a line through the rocky wasteland down to the the road, crossing it to the track on Cogden Moor, before finally re-joining the tarmac down to Grinton Youth Hostel.
You’ll now be warmed up for the day. Any sensible soul would have a bite to eat back at the Dales Mountain Bike Centre (down the hill you climbed at the start), before heading off for an afternoon ride.
If you’ve got a long drive ahead, then you’ll have finished off your trip with a real 3 star classic. All you now need to do is to plan the next trip.
Stats: 9.4 miles
Grewelthorpe has an excellent pub, the Crown Inn, for a bite to eat and a pint after this ride. They also do bed and breakfast. If you’re staying long in the area, choose Masham, with excellent facilities all around, and keep this for an evening ride.
This route is a superb winter night ride – so long as all the ice has cleared! The green lanes are safe and fast, and the climb up onto the moor opens up great night skies. Albeit short, it requires strength and stamina, hence the moderate rating. If done as a night ride then take a good set of lights. You’ll need at least 240 lumens as you head down from the moor. It’s a fast descent with lots of bumps. Make sure that you’re either an experienced night rider, or that you go along with somebody who is. Better still, take a helmet light and bar light of about 480 lumens, Check out the ‘Exposure’ light sets online.
1. Cycle from the village pub, going up the hill to the left for about 150 yards to a junction. Turn right into the lane and follow this keeping left and heading out to Foulgate Farm.
2. At the farm head straight on and steeply down the rough track at speed as is twists and turns.
3. A sharp turn left at the bottom takes you through a ford (don’t fall here in winter!) and rises steeply immediately on leaving the water. Then begins a grind up the green lane for some distance before meeting tarmac.
4. Keep straight on at the road and head for the bridleway, joining the track across the moor as the road turns sharp left.
5. Continue the climb on the rocky track, through the gate and after about 1 mile a track to the right speeds you downhill with exhilaration.
6. As this track meets the road at Ilton, head straight on towards a junction right at Ilton Grange Farm.
7. Keep on straight ahead until the bridleway heads left at Blackhill House, taking you down and back to Foulgate Farm. Take the lane back to Grewelthorpe and refreshments at the Inn!
If you look at the elevation profile, you’ll notice that this is a 3 miles descent to finish. Just remind yourself of this as you do the initial climbs!