Stats: 14 miles
This is an absolutely terrific route at all times of the year. In the past two years I’ve done the route with snow lying on the very top; in the rainy autumn, where we got soaked after only 10 minutes, and a mate refused to let me eat on the way around, stating ‘eating is cheating!’ And I’ve done it on glorious sunny days, with the open dales spread before me.
It’s only the distance that makes this a borderline route. If you extended it to Settle, it’s definitely a hard route. So when you finish, head into the pub at Kilnsey for a good meal.
Park at the cattle grid if in small numbers. Alternatively park at Kilnsey Park, where a good restaurant awaits at the end. For me, I’d choose the Tennant Arms for food every time. Accommodation is ample nearby, with Kettlewell Youth Hostel for the budget conscious.
1. Turn off the road behind the pub at Kilnsey and drive up the steep lane, parking at the start of Mastiles Lane, by the steel gate. The initial climb is on tarmac, allowing you to warm up. Go through the gate and onto the rough bridleway.
2. Follow this as is gently rises and falls for a short distance, before your eyes lead you to the dramatic incline in the distance. Head up the bridleway as it climbs for about 2 miles of hard graft before easing off a bit. The track then falls as you enjoy the first really fast, twisting descent. Go through a series of gates as you follow the bridleway on good ground. After the ‘Roman Fort’ marked on the OS map, a descent takes you across bumpy ground, through a gate and across a deep ford before a tricky rocky climb.
3. The track eases and leads to a field gate as you complete Mastiles Lane. Go through this gate and turn right, following the fast track as it descends, across a cattle grid before turning left by a small copse and following the track to Malham Tarn.
4. Cycle around the tarn, past Tarn House and down the drive to a point by a gatehouse with a track junction marked on the left. Take this track which has wetlands to the left of a drystone wall, until it meets the road.
5. Turn left and follow this road to a junction, turning left and heading back to the end/ start of Mastiles lane.
Now reverse the lane all the back to Kilnsey. The final descent is one of the best you’ll find anywhere in England. This route has several extensions: The Settle Loop or a drop down into
Malham followed by a return via Gordale.
If you’re going to Settle, then the Three Peaks Bike Shop is one of the very best anywhere in the UK, with a superb cafe too.