Stats: 26 miles and 1979 feet of ascent
Ripon has an excellent selection of cafes and car parks, so it’s good for a start and a finish. The Sun Parlour Cafe in the Spa Gardens is a favourite with cyclists. In terms of bike shops, we choose Moonglu Performance Cycles on Blossomgate; a great shop run by Neil Dunkley, with Mark ‘Bike’ Swindells as chief fettler.
On route there’s a good selection of cafes at Masham, or if you can wait, GTs Dales Ice Cream at Grantley on the way home.
This route takes on a series of quiet lanes that skirt the edges of the Dales, climbing and rolling alongside great scenery. The climbs keep coming and include a 2 mile tester at Warthermarske. However, each ascent seems to have a rolling rest before the route throws another hill your way. Twisting turns on narrow winding roads with great views across the moors make this a super ride.
1. From the Market Square keep the town hall to your left and cycle along Westgate, turning right at the end onto Blossomgate, passing Moonglu Cycles.
2. At the mini roundabout go straight on and follow Kirkby Road out of town, passing the Army Camp which is fenced off to the left. This road winds its way along hedgerows and farmland to Grewelthorpe where the first sight of moorland can be seen in the distance.
3. Cycling through Grewelthorpe the road again climbs as you head towards Masham via Nutwith Woods and Common. As you pass Nutwith Woods on your left, with the car park to Hackfall Woods on the right, the gradients begin to ease, with a great descent into Masham from the top of Nutwith Common. Time now to make a decision: do you cycle into the square for a brew or continue along the route.
4. Now for some prolonged climbing. On passing the Feed Mill at Masham, the next junction on the left is signed to Ilton and Swinton Castle. Take this junction left and follow the road out of Masham, passing the golf course on route. A short distance after leaving Masham the road swings left over a small bridge, continuing past the entrance to Swinton Castle – a great hotel for the well healed!
5. Keeping the walled Swinton Park grounds to your right, the narrow lane begins a long and steady climb, passing the hamlet of Warthermarske as the gradient increases. A red telephone box to the left of the road is a good reference point.
6. Trees left and right provide the shade as you sweat your way up this narrow climb. A large farm to the left indicates open country once more, but the climbing continues. The road swings around to the right, where a junction to the left indicates Grewelthorpe 2 miles. Take this junction left, but it’s not a return to Grewelthorpe for us. Further climbs await, although it’s mainly descending from here on in.
7. This road climbs past cottages on the right before a junction is reached to the left. DO NOT TAKE THIS but do stay on the narrow lane ahead. As you continue to climb, moorland can be seen beyond the meadows to the right. A twisting lane leads you up to a summit by Blackhill House (OS Map). The road now descends and races you along, turning sharply right at Wreaks Lane (by Grewelthorpe Moor), twisting right and leading down at speed to the village of Kirkby Malzeard. A good butchers here sells great pies – if you’ve earned it!
8. At the far end of the village, opposite the village cross, a sign indicates a junction signed right to Laverton. Take this but avoid Laverton itself, staying on this road as it rolls along to High Grantley, with a sting in its tail on the final approach to the village.
9. Passing the village school on the left, take the next junction left onto the lane lined with hedgerows that descends at speed through trees, before climbing once more. A junction is reached with the B6265 at Risplith above Grantley. Trun left towards Ripon. The GT Ice Cream Parlour may be a welcome choice here.
10. Once refreshed take the road back to Ripon, turning sharply left down the steep bank before crossing the bridge and climbing once more. The road eases and twists its way towards Ripon, passing Fountains Abbey on the right as the gradient eases and races you home.