Chris McClean

From historic cities to rolling hills – Cycling the Way of the Roses

Bike Touring Collection by
komoot

Rolling hills divided by walls of mossy grey stone, windswept moors stretching towards the horizon, meadows colored blue, yellow, and pink – cycling the Way of the Roses is a mesmerizing journey from the Irish Sea to the North Sea.

The way of the Roses will lead you 170 miles (273 km) across the North of England from Morecambe to Bridlington. Along the way, you will pass through stunning nature such as the Yorkshire Dales and Yorkshire Wolds, cross meandering rivers, and explore cobbled-stone streets.

Named after the Wars of the Roses between the English dynastic families Lancaster and York in the 15th Century, the Way of the Roses traverses fascinating eras of history.

Ancient castles with gruesome pasts, unique cathedrals, crumbling Viking ruins, deserted battlefields, and former industrial centers that once shaped the world we live in are all waiting for you to explore.

Ranging from 16 miles (27 km) to 26 miles (59 km) in length, the seven routes in this Collection are easy to navigate by following the white and red rose signposts. Each route will show you a different aspect of the region’s diverse landscape and culture.

Whether you are looking for a leisurely bike ride with your family or a hardcore cycling adventure, the routes in this Collection are suitable for all levels of riders – simply do more stages in a day to make it more of an endurance ride. Aside from two steeper climbs, the route remains relatively flat with only gently undulating hills. You will also cycle mostly on quiet roads and tarmac cycle paths with a few off-road sections which most bikes should handle, no matter if you are riding a road bike, mountain bike, hybrid, or something else.

Your journey begins in the town of Morecambe. Nestled on the coast of the Irish Sea, Morecambe is a thriving seaside town with a sprawling bay, plenty of ice cream shops, and friendly holiday atmosphere. Starting from its promenade, the Way of the Roses is signposted by a white and red rose all the way to Bridlington.

In Morecambe, you will plenty of accommodation options. If you are looking to start your trip in style, the 1930s Midland Hotel is an impressive art nouveau masterpiece, whilst family-run bed and breakfasts make for a cozy stay. You can easily reach Morecambe via train, with regular trains from Leeds, Heysham Port, and Lancaster.

For more information about the Way of the Roses, visit: wayoftheroses.info
For train times and tickets to Morecambe, visit: thetrainline.com/stations/morecambe

On The Map

Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    03:09
    30.0 mi
    9.5 mph
    1,775 ft
    1,275 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    On your first day of cycling the Way of the Roses, you can expect to be inspired by the history and beauty of the region. Today’s route will take you to ancient castles which tell gruesome tales, through idyllic green countryside, rolling hills, mystical underground caves and into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.

    Starting from the Way of the Roses sign on the promenade of Morecambe’s seafront, the first seven miles (11 km) run along a former railway path. This flat and traffic-free section passes over the picturesque River Lune as it meanders through the Lune Valley in Lancaster.

    Built on the banks of the river, Lancaster is a city brimming with history dating as far back as the 1st century. Here, you can find evidence of its past around every corner: from Lancaster Castle to ruined Roman baths and St.George’s Quay to the beautiful Lancaster Town Hall.

    When you reach Caton on the outskirts of Lancaster, the railway line joins county lanes which are characteristic of the Way of the Roses. Running through open pastures and with little traffic, these lanes offer the perfect opportunity to discover some of England’s finest landscapes.

    As you head further along the Lune Valley, there are some gradual climbs that gently rise and fall through the lush countryside and into the Wenning Valley.

    You will pass through picturesque villages along the river such as Gressingham, famous for the Gressingham breed of duck, Hornby, and Wray. Here, you will find Bridge House Farm Team rooms, with a lovely outside garden for a well-earned break.

    Your last stretch continues through woods and farmland before arriving in Clapham, your final destination. Surrounded by stunning scenery, this friendly village has everything you need for a pleasant rest; various accommodation, restaurants, a village shop, and, most importantly, a pub!

  • Difficult
    02:22
    20.8 mi
    8.8 mph
    1,750 ft
    1,650 ft
    Expert bike ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Leading 20 miles (33.5 km) through the picturesque Yorkshire Dales, the second route of the Way of the Roses is a pleasant cycle ride through some of the most beautiful countryside in the North of England.

    Your journey begins in Clapham, a pretty Yorkshire Dales village. The route follows a cycle path which runs along the busy A65. However, if you are traveling on a mountain bike, you may prefer to take the notorious cobbled lane which runs through tunnels. You can find this alternative route here: komoot.de/highlight/453517.

    From Clapham, the Way of the Roses continues east, passing over the Austwick Beck, a pretty tributary of the River Lune and Wenning. You will then gradually climb into the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

    With windswept heather moorland, remote valleys, fields lined with dry stone walls, haystacks, gushing waterfalls, and rolling hills, the Yorkshire Dales National Park is frequently quoted as one of the most picturesque areas in the UK. Spread over an area of 1,354 miles² (2,179 km²), the Dales are an incredible place to cycle.

    You will follow the River Ribble as it meanders through the Dales before reaching Settle, a thriving town. Here, you can find many places to enjoy a break such as the award-winning Courtyard Dairy which serves Wensleydale cheese, a local delicacy.

    You will need the extra energy for the next leg of your journey – a 2.5 mile (4 km) climb which is steep and cobbled. Luckily, the road surface improves after half a mile (800 meters).

    The views from the top of the climb and during the downhill section are unforgettable. Here, you will truly appreciate the vast beauty of Yorkshire.

    Finally, you will reach the village of Airton before cycling through green farmland and reaching your last destination for the day, Hetton. A small village built from gray stone, Hetton has various options of places to stay and eat, as well as village shops.

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  • Intermediate
    01:56
    16.7 mi
    8.6 mph
    1,400 ft
    1,600 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Magnificent hills, delicious afternoon tea, quaint Yorkshire villages, and beautiful countryside await you as you continue your journey along the Way of the Roses.

    Leaving from Hetton, you will continue further into the heart of the Yorkshire Dales, passing the idyllic Cracoe hamlet and carving through the Skelterton, Carden, Butter Haw and Langerton Yorkshire Hills.

    After just over 5 miles (9 km) of the stunning British countryside, the route joins the River Wharfe before arriving in Burnsall. This quaint Yorkshire village is known for its riverside tea rooms which serve delicious scones and cakes.

    Just after Burnsall, you will reach Appletreewick, another pretty Yorkshire village with a ‘mountain bike livery.’ From Appletreewick to Greenhow Hill, there is a tough climb. It is worth noting to take particular care during the descent. The 16% gradient, uneven road surface, and sharp bends have caused a number of accidents, especially in wet weather.

    The descent leads into Pateley Bridge, the last destination of this section of the Way of the Roses. This charming town has many restaurants and accommodation options, including camping, hotels and bed and breakfasts. It is also the home of the Oldest Sweet Shop in the World (or so they claim) where you can find classic sweets such as bonbons, wine gums, and pear drops.

  • Intermediate
    02:44
    26.4 mi
    9.7 mph
    1,225 ft
    1,550 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    If you are interested in history, stage four of the Way of the Roses will fascinate you. Today, you will pass ancient moorland rock formations, UNESCO World Heritage sites brimming with history, and stunning cathedrals dating back to the 7th century.

    Before leaving Pateley Bridge, we recommend stocking up on snacks, as you will not find any other supermarkets for the next 11 miles (19 km) of your journey.

    Stage four is a gentle 26 mile (42 km) ride leading you away from the Yorkshire Dales into North Yorkshire. You will pass unusual sites such as the Brimham Rock formations and the Fountains Abbey five miles (8 km) later.

    Here, you are able to cycle through the grounds of this stunning heritage site. Although unusual for National Trust properties, the grounds, including colorful landscape gardens and a medieval deer park, are open to cyclists.

    Shortly after leaving the grounds, you will reach Ripon. Famed for its stunning cathedral, Ripon has been a city for over 1,300 years old. During its turbulent history, the city has witnessed religious movements, Viking control, and Norman invasion, before becoming a center of the wool and cloth industry. Today, this third smallest city in the UK is a thriving city with many shops and restaurants.

    From Ripon, the route flattens out as it follows the Ure and Ouse valley along quiet country lanes, before arriving in Boroughbridge.

    A small but interesting town, Boroughbridge has a thriving high street with various shops, pubs, cafes, and restaurants. Here, you will find a tranquil place to lay your head for the night. You can find more information about visiting Boroughbridge, here: visitharrogate.co.uk/in-the-area/boroughbridge

  • Intermediate
    02:11
    23.4 mi
    10.8 mph
    325 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Having left the hills of the Yorkshire Dales firmly behind, stage five of the Way of the Roses is pleasantly flat, climbing only 100 meters (328 feet) over 23 miles (38 km).

    Setting off from Boroughbridge, you will cycle through pretty countryside on quiet lanes that pass through Lower and Upper Dunsforth and Great Ouseburn.

    To cross the River Ure, the route leads across the Aldwark Bridge. Built in 1772 by John Thomson, this rickety old bridge allowed people to cross the river even during bad weather. Today, the toll bridge continues to serve its purpose for a small fee of 40 pence. The good news – it is free for cyclists!

    From Aldwark Bridge, the route continues along country lanes, keeping the River Ure to its right. You will pass the RAF base at Linton-On-Ouse and the quaint village of Newton-on-Ouse. Bear in mind here that the roads, although generally quiet, can become busy during school-run hours.

    From Shipton by Beninbrough, the route joins a traffic-free tarmac cycle path which joins the River Ouse as it flows into the city of York.

    The magnificent city of York, founded by the Romans, has played a major role in British history. An important city in the kingdoms of Deira, Northumbria and Jorvik, York had an often bloody history. Today, you can learn more about some of its gruesome past at its castle. You can find bike racks by the Minster to lock up your bike and discover the city.

    A hub of culture and city life, York is the perfect place to explore and spend an evening. The city has a huge range of accommodation to suit any budget. You can find more information about visiting York, here: visityork.org

  • Difficult
    03:33
    36.7 mi
    10.3 mph
    1,050 ft
    1,050 ft
    Expert bike ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may require you to carry your bike.

    Ancient battlefields, patchwork fields, tree-lined country lanes, and flowing rivers await you as you continue along the Way of the Roses.

    Leaving the bustling city of York behind you, you will pass through the green flatlands of East Yorkshire. The picturesque nature is calm, with plenty of wildlife such as red kites, marsh harriers and bearded tits.

    After 9 miles (15 km) of tranquil roads, you will reach Stamford Bridge, a small village in the East Riding of Yorkshire. Stamford Bridge is famously the location of a battle during 1066 between the English army and invading Norwegians. You can easily visit the former battlefield as it lies on the route.

    Next, you will follow an un-surfaced bridleway to avoid taking the busy main road. If you are a confident rider on a road bike, you may prefer to take the road instead.

    Passing through more of East Yorkshire’s stunning countryside, you will soon reach Pocklington. A small historic market town, Pocklington is one of the most picturesque towns on the Way of the Roses. It also serves as the gateway to one of the best, yet relatively undiscovered, cycling regions in the UK – the Yorkshire Wolds.

    With tiny country lanes that pass narrow dales and low hills formed from chalk, the Yorkshire Wolds is a gently rolling plateau that is perfect for cycling. The road will gently climb through the Dales, passing quaint villages before reaching Hutton Cranswick.

    Here, you will find a few accommodation options such as the White Horse Inn in the center of the village – which is also a great place to tuck into a well-deserved meal. You can find more information about the White Horse Inn, here: whitehorse.me.uk

  • Intermediate
    02:36
    27.0 mi
    10.4 mph
    700 ft
    725 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your day begins in the heart of the Yorkshire Wolds at Hutton Cranswick. Continuing through the quiet countryside along country lanes, you will notice as the landscape slowly changes as you head towards to coast.

    Passing the village of Skerne, sitting quietly amongst green farmland, you will descend into Tibthorpe before reaching Driffield.

    Famed for its annual agricultural show, Driffield is a pleasant town with many restaurants and cafes. Life in Driffield has existed as far back as 2200 BC; artifacts from the Bronze Age were discovered here during an excavation, which are now kept in the British Museum in London.

    From Driffield, you will follow more quaint country lanes for the rest of the Way of the Roses, aside from a short off-road section just after Harpham.

    Your final leg to Bridlington is known as a source of inspiration for artist and Bridlington resident David Hockney. The spectacular scenery, especially the Roman Road at Woldgate, are featured in some of his famous paintings.

    When you arrive in Bridlington, you have reached the end of the Way of the Roses. Your reward? – glorious clean beaches, interesting independent shops, and an ice cream on the seafront. Bridlington is a thriving coastal town with an abundance of things to do.

    With good rail connections to the rest of the UK and direct links to Sheffield, Hull, and Scarborough, Bridlington is a convenient place to end your incredible adventure. You can find more information about train times, here: northernrailway.co.uk/stations/BDT

Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    181 mi
  • Duration
    18:31 h
  • Elevation
    8,175 ft8,175 ft