Get on your bike and explore routes for all abilities across Yorkshire
Last updated Mar 18, 2024

Whether you’re still at the stabilisers stage or a serious Lycra devotee, North Yorkshire has a route to suit every stage of your cycling journey – here’s The Stray Ferret’s pick of some unmissable highlights.

For the thrill seekers

(Image: Pixabay)

Location: Dalby Forest.

Terrain: Varied, woodland, hilly, with some off-road routes.

Length: There are a number of trails throughout the forest for a mixture of different abilities from family-friendly routes to serious mountain biking challenges.

About the route: The lush backdrop of woodland – over 3,500 hectares in size – provides a perfect playground for casual and serious cyclists alike.

The grading system is meant to help bikers out, which starts at green (easy) and ends at black (extreme) so you know what you’ve let yourself in for. Trail maps are available from the visitor centre.

Parking: There are several Forestry Commission car parks throughout Dalby Forest. Payment to enter the forest is £10 all day for vehicle access.

Bike hire: Bikes are available from Dalby Forest Cycle Hub. Prices for a full days’ hire of a mountain bike start at £40 for an adult, and £25 for a child.

Don’t miss: For those who aren’t sure what their technical level is, the cycle skills area is a great place to warm up and decide before tackling the longer routes.

For a child-friendly option

Spofforth Castle

Location: Wetherby Railway Path, Spofforth to Wetherby or Thorp Arch.

Terrain: Flat, paved cycle path with one small section on-road.

Length: 6.3 miles one way to Thorp Arch, or 2.7 miles one way to Wetherby.

About the route: Starting at the ruins of Spofforth Castle, the route follows a National Cycle Network trail through the countryside, passing through Weatherby, and ending at Thorp Park Retail Park.

You don’t have to complete the full route either – the old railway path is the perfect place to take younger children to test out their cycling skills, turning back when they start getting tired.

Parking: Free, roadside parking in Spofforth village.

Bike hire:  There are no available cycle hire services in the local area, so it’s advised you take your own bike.

Don’t miss: The historic market town of Wetherby is well worth a look around and has a plethora of cafes that can help to break up the journey. Kofi&Co, Bakeri Baltzersen and The Cottage Coffee Shop are amongst the stand-out options.

For landscape lovers

Sutton Bank views

Location: Sutton Bank.

Terrain: Steep in parts, some off-road cycling, some paved cycle paths.

Length: Cycle routes range from a steady 3 miles, all the way up to a challenging 17.5 miles.

About the route: Don’t be put off by the drive up, while the routes do undulate, you don’t have to tackle the climb up Sutton Bank – unless you’re up for the challenge of course.

While there are five different routes on offer, all offer the chance to take in the spectacular scenery across the escarpment, with a view of Lake Gormire below.

Parking: There is metered parking available at Sutton Bank National Park Centre. Just to note, the machines are card payment only.

Bike hire: Bikes are available from Sutton Bank Bikes. Prices for a full days’ hire of a mountain bike start at £40 for an adult, and £29 for a child.

Don’t miss: If you’re undertaking one of the longer routes, make sure to rest your legs at the High Paradise Farm Tea Room, which offers refreshments with a view.

For the seasoned cyclists

Greenhow Hill

Location: Greenhow Hill from Pateley Bridge.

Terrain: Very steep, on-road with traffic.

Length: Just over 2.5 miles, with an ascent of 268 metres total ascent.

About the route: Starting in Pateley Bridge, the route to Greenhow Hill is well-known in the area for offering a challenging climb, best suited to seasoned road cyclists.

The ascent really begins in earnest past the Royal Oak pub in the town, with four distinct sections of tough climbing throughout, finishing just beyond the quarry, at the Greenhow village sign.

Parking: There are five car parks in Pateley Bridge, with short-stay and long-stay options.

Bike hire: This route is suited for experienced cyclists with specialised road bikes, and as such, it is recommended you take your own bike. 

Don’t miss: Greenhow Hill is one of the highest villages in Yorkshire, at 1300 feet above sea level. It also boasts ‘the biggest and highest artwork’ installations, The Coldstones Cut, which overlooks the quarry and is open to the public to explore. 

For those who like it flat

The Nidderdale Greenway, which could be extended.

The Nidderdale Greenway

Location: Nidderdale Greenway, from Ripley to Harrogate.

Terrain: Generally flat, paved cycle route.

Length: 4.2 miles one way.

About the route: A gentle, traffic-free route that connects Ripley with Knaresborough, Bilton and Harrogate along a disused railway line, the Nidderdale Greenway is a popular option for families and casual cyclists.

Parking: Parking starts at £1 for one hour at the village’s main car park, which needs to be redeemed at either The Boar’s Head, The Tearoom, Grindhus, Ripley Castle, Ripley Store, Harrogate Tipple, Just Makers, or Fizzy Fox.

Bike hire options: Nidderdale Cycles offer a service where they drop off and pick up hired bikes at the main car park in Ripley.

Don’t miss: One of the highlights of the route is the spectacular Grade II listed, Nidd Gorge Viaduct, from which views across the woodland and the valley can be enjoyed.

For those who want a challenge

Yorkshire Dales National Park

Location: Yorkshire Dales Cycleway.

Terrain: Varied, on-road, with steep ascents and descents.

Length: 130 miles.

About the route: For a truly unique way to experience the beauty of the Yorkshire Dales, the challenge of completing the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway awaits.

Starting and ending at Skipton, the circular route winds through Coverdale, Swaledale, Wensleydale, Dentdale and Kingsdale. Typically, those who undertake it split it into six stages of 20-25 miles per day.

Parking: There are numerous pay-and-display car parks in the centre of Skipton, but it is recommended that the maximum length of stay is checked before visiting.

Bike hire options: As this is a multi-day challenge, it is advised that you take your own bike and equipment with you.

Don’t miss: There’s so much to see along the route that you’ll be spoilt for choice, with scenery that includes the famous limestone landscape of Malham Cove and Tarn.

There are also plenty of handy blogs – including the Yorkshire Dales’ National Park sister site Cycle the Dales– that give handy hints and tips so you can make the most of the experience.

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(Lead image: Pixabay)

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