Explore the beautiful North York Moors, considered by those who ride there as one of the best kept secrets in cycling. Cycle along quiet roads through the iconic heather moorland landscape around little known valleys, meander through deep forests and experience stunning views along rugged coastline. Call in at cycle friendly cafes and traditional pubs along the way whilst taking in a wealth of history with castles, museums, ruined abbeys, lost industries with folklore and tales of smuggling for a true North York Moors adventure.
Distance: 276 km
Terrain: Quiet country lanes, rolling moorland valleys, roads through dense forests and the ruggedly beautiful East coast. Stop off in market towns, picture perfect country villages and coastal settlements steeped in history.
Starting point: Pickering
Finish point: Pickering
Difficulty Rating: ***
The start and finish of both the Western and Eastern loops in the North York Moors.
After hopping over high moorland plateaus into hidden valleys you’ll drop into the busy market town of Helmsley pops into view with its many shops, pubs, hotels, spas and restaurants, plus castle and bird of prey centre making it a perfect place to refuel, rest and explore.
This beautiful ruin, set in the shadow of the Hambleton Hills, was once one of the great northern monasteries. A truly outstanding example of early Gothic architecture, Byland inspired the design for the famous York Minster Rose Window as well as influencing many other religious buildings throughout Europe
From Ravenscar the coastal cycle path winds along the old railway route to Robin Hood’s bay, a tiny fishing village squeezed between high sea cliffs and past Trailways with its converted railway carriage accommodation and onto the historic harbour town of Whitby.
Castle Howard is one of Britain’s finest historic houses, situated just outside York in the Howardian Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Pickering is a bustling and vibrant market town set at the edge of the majestic North York Moors with a host of independent shops and places to eat and drink. With a steam railway, castle, museum, it’s a great place to explore on your day of arrival. The town has a large cycle shop and number of cycle friendly accommodation providers so it’s great base from which to start your North York Moors adventure.
Head out of Pickering through the quaint village of Thornton le Dale through a picturesque twisting tree lined route through Dalby, the great Yorkshire forest. Then it’s on through deep tree lined valleys and country estates before the sea comes into view on gentle descent towards the East Coast. Take a detour into Scarborough for an overnight stay and to explore the delights of the original seaside town.
A shorter day’s ride allows plenty of time to explore the wonderful east coast as you head out of Scarborough towards Ravenscar with stunning views of the rugged coastline. Take a trip to see the seal colony before heading along the disused railway towards Whitby. Take time to explore Robin Hoods Bay along the way through the narrow alleyways and cobbled streets in the centuries old footsteps of smugglers. Arriving in Whitby, a coastal town steeped in history, you’ll pass the ruined abbey and ride around the harbour, soaking in sights of the famous whaling town.
Follow the coast towards the picturebook village of Sandsend, turning inland along country lanes with scenic valley views before heading out onto the iconic heather moorland terrain with golden hues in late Autumn and a carpet of purple in late Summer. Ride above the wide fertile valley of Glasidale past the tranquil villages of Egton, Lealholm and Danby, home of the Moors National Park Centre. The final stretch takes you through and out of the beautiful Fryup Dale before the long descent into the village of Rosedale Abbey in the heart of the North York Moors.
Along the valley out of Rosedale heading through picture perfect villages of Lastingham with it’s historic church and popular pub and the ‘honey pot’ village of Hutton le Hole with its babbling brook, cafes, accommodation and museum. It’s then onto more open moorland scenery as you pass through Gillamoor into the hidden gem of Bransdale on a twisting undulating route around the valley before the long descent into the archetypal English market town of Helmsley. Here you can explore the castle, visit the brewery, have some wonderful home made ice cream or relax and be pampered at the spa.
Head out of Helmsley for the longest day with some real treats in store. Passing through pretty villages with thatched cottages, past historic houses and ruined abbeys. The terrain changes from rolling farmland and tree lined country roads climbing up to the top of the escarpment past Sutton Bank Visitor Centre for big sky views and rolling open heather moorland as you work your way to the popular village of Osmotherley, a regular stop off for walkers on the Cleveland Way or the Lykewake Walk.
Head out of Osmotherley on mile after mile of open moorland roads before dropping into rich and fertile farmland passing close to Great Ayton, the birthplace of Captain Cook and the famous land mark of Roseberry Topping. Farmland changes again to more open rolling moorland climbing up to Blakey Ridge and passing Ralphs Cross the symbol of The North York Moors National Park for a stop at one of the highest pubs in England.
A shorter day takes you back around Rosedale with a view down the beautiful valley, once the scene of mining, furnaces and a railway serving the ironstone industry. Once more head through Rosedale Abbey and onto Cropton with a chance for a brewery tour before the tree-lined route opens out for the descent towards the Vale of Pickering and the chance to finish exploring and maybe a relaxing trip on a steam train.