Dry-stone wall-lined lanes, sweeping moors, gushing waterfalls, sleepy farms, and limestone cliffs – there is no place quite like Yorkshire.
This Collection guides you through this magnificent region along the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway. Ending and finishing in Skipton, this circular route will take you to some of the best spots in the Dales in seven stages.
Ranging in length from 16.2 miles (26.2 km) to 26.2 miles (42.3 km), each stage is suitable for most levels of riders. However, riding in Yorkshire is tough. You will climb 12,762 feet (3,890 metres) in total, with up to 2,657 feet (810 metres) elevation gain in one day. If summiting hills comes naturally to you, you can easily combine the routes to challenge yourself further. Alternatively, some of the stages can be enjoyed as individual day rides; stages 2, 3 and 5 end close to a train station.
As the Yorkshire Cycleway follows along rural lanes almost the whole way, any bike is suitable, even your roadie. Just make sure it has low enough gearing to handle the hills, and pack light.
You will find many eateries en route to keep you fuelled for the hills. The Yorkshire Cycleway will take you to the home of Wensleydale cheese, as well as plenty of friendly pubs where you can tuck into a Sunday roast with a Yorkshire pudding. If you get thirsty, you can stop for a pint at the Tan Hill Inn. At 1,732 feet (528 metres) above sea level, it’s Britain’s highest pub.
A national park since 1954, the Yorkshire Dales has extraordinary natural beauty. You will explore wild and rugged landscapes such as open heather moorland and limestone cliffs via a network of quiet lanes that are ideal for cycling. The area has become a cycling-mecca in the UK and even hosts an annual road race the Tour de Yorkshire at the beginning of May.
Summer is the best season to explore Yorkshire’s magnificent countryside. Although you can cycle the route all year-round, riding from June to August increases your chance of avoiding the rain.
People from Yorkshire are proud of their county, and rightly so. Over the centuries, locals have rebelled multiple times against non-Yorkshire and Northern rulers, from the Norman era to the Wars of the Roses and beyond. You will ride through some of this history as you visit ruined abbeys, medieval castles and historic villages.
The circular route starts and ends in Skipton, a friendly town with the Dales on its doorstep. A popular base for exploring the area, Skipton has a wide range of accommodation, as well as cafes, restaurants, pubs and independent shops. With direct rail connections with Leeds, Bradford and Carlisle, you can reach the town by train.
For more information about visiting Yorkshire, visit: yorkshire.com
For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/stations/skipton
From misty moorland to desolate towers and magnificent castles to magical hills, the first stage of the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway is an awesome introduction to this stunning part of the world. Today you will ride 21.2 miles (34 km) from Skipton to Kirby Malham, through the heart of the dales. The Yorkshire Dales start as they mean to go on – hilly. Head into the dales from Skipton, climbing up to 984 feet (300 metres) along Barden Road. Here, you will soon realise why the Dales have earned their reputation as one of the most beautiful but toughest areas to cycle in the UK. Next, the route drops down to the River Wharfe before arriving in Appletreewick. Set amongst the rolling Wharfedale hills, this pretty village has many historic cottages, some of which date back to the 12th century. You will also find a friendly village pub and campsite here. Continue along the river as it flows through Burnsall before climbing into the Dales again and heading up Elberton Hill. This is your last big climb of the day. The final eight miles (13 km) is a gentle downhill ride along quiet lanes as they wind through the sleepy villages of Hetton, Winterburn and Airton. Your final destination is Kirkby Malham, a small village that was once home to writer Bill Bryson. There are a few holiday rentals in the village and a good pub, the Victoria Inn.
Stage 2 guides you over undulating lanes deeper into the spectacular Dales. Today you will discover more of the region’s geological wonders and industrial heritage as you ride 16.3 miles (26.3 km) from Kirkby Malham to Settle. From Kirkby Malham, continue along Wharfedale to Malham, an ancient settlement with over 1,000 years of history. Surrounded by dry-stone walls, it’s worth stopping in this picturesque village to visit Malham Cove. You might want to lock your bike in the village and walk to the cove, especially if you are on a road bike. Don’t forget to stock up on supplies before you leave Malham as you will not find any shops or cafes for the next 9.3 miles (15 km).From Malham, climb up Malham Rakes to the spectacular Malham Tarn and enjoy a gorgeous ride across the hilltops following isolated lanes. The route then descends into Stainforth, a small town on the banks of the River Ribble. You’ll find plenty of cosy places for a rest here, as well as a camping and caravan park. Next, follow the river and railway tracks, passing Langcliffe village before arriving in Settle. Surrounded by unspoilt villages, Yorkshire heritage and beautiful nature, Settle is a popular destination for hikers and cyclists. You will find a huge range of accommodation, but make sure you book in advance, especially during the summer.
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Today you will ride 26.2 miles (42.3 km) through lonely dales, visiting fascinating caves and gushing waterfalls along the way. With 2,427 feet (740 metres) of elevation gain, stage three will definitely wake up your legs.From Settle, the route follows gentle hills through peaceful countryside to Clapham. Here, you will find a community-led shop and a few cafes to indulge in a coffee and cake before continuing to Ingleton. Famed for its caves and waterfalls, there’s lots to discover in Ingleton. You may want to consider parking your bike in the Ingleton trails car park to explore the waterfalls on foot. Back on two wheels, the route heads up into Kingsdale Valley. Formed by glaciers during the last Ice Age, this dale offers panoramic views and rolling fells that are best discovered from your saddle. You’ll continue to climb through the spectacular landscapes before dropping down into Dentdale, another unique Yorkshire dale with its own distinct charm. Your final stop is Dent, a lovely village hidden between the Howgill Fells and rugged Pennines. You’ll find a number of guest houses, campsites, and a local brewery to guarantee a comfortable and well-deserved rest.
From impressive railway viaducts to Yorkshire’s famous cheese, stage 4 will reveal more of this county’s charm. Today you will ride 22 miles (35 km) from Dent to Askrigg. From Dent, head uphill through Dentdale, following the river Dee. This is a tough but rewarding climb with gorgeous views over rolling fells and the Arten Gill Viaduct. After reaching 1,427 feet (435 metres), the highest point of stage 4, the route becomes much easier.After 14.2 miles (23 km), you will arrive in Hawes. At 850 feet (259 metres) above sea level, Hawes is England’s highest market town. There are lots of places to grab lunch here and make sure you don’t miss out on trying the Yorkshire speciality Wensleydale cheese at the Wensleydale Creamery. Next, cross over the River Ure and follow a lovely road which runs parallel to the river. This 6-mile (10 km) stretch is a relaxing ride, with little traffic or elevation gain. After visiting Bainbridge, you will arrive in Askrigg, a pretty village in the heart of Wensleydale. With cobbled streets, dry-stone walls, and green valleys, Askrigg oozes Yorkshire charm. You may recognise one of the buildings, Skeldale House, as the vet’s surgery from the All Creatures Great and Small series that was filmed in the village. Askrigg has various accommodation ranging from B&Bs to hotels as well as places to tuck into a well-earned dinner.
Stage 5 is another wonderful ride through the Dales from Askrigg to Redmire. Today you have two big hills and will climb 2,657 feet (810 metres) in elevation gain over the day. From Askrigg, you will power up to 1,624 feet (495 metres) over Cross Top. With up to 15% gradient at times, this will get your heart pumping. From the top, you can enjoy a glorious ride down to the River Swale. Next, the route levels out as it follows the river through the valley. You can take a small detour to Gunnerside to stop for lunch and supplies.Continue along the river for 9 miles (15 km) until Grinton, a charming village that was part of the first stage of the Tour De France in 2014. Grinton has a popular pub and historic church that is known as the ‘Cathedral of the Dales’. From the village, climb back up to 1,476 feet (450 metres) as you cross Grinton Moor. This wild and windy landscape is tough but rewards with spectacular views.The last leg of stage 5 brings you down off the moor and into Redmire. You will find everything you need in the village for a comfortable stay, including shops, cafes, restaurants, various accommodation and a train station.
Your penultimate day of adventure brings you more chocolate-box villages, stunning landscapes, and challenging climbs. Today you will ride 18.6 miles (30 km) from Redmire to Kettlewell. From Redmire, follow winding country lanes to Wensley, a historic village home to a Grade I listed 13th-century church, Wensley Mill and hidden waterfalls. To continue, cross over the River Ure and climb along Gale Bank. With wild deer roaming freely amongst the trees, luscious valley slopes and dry-stone lined roads, you can now enjoy the delights of Coverdale. You will follow the River Cover as it carves through the landscape for the next 9 miles (15 km). There are a few small villages en route such as Gammersgill, Horse House, Braidley, and Wooddale. Leaving the river, you will tackle Park Rash climb before enjoying an exhilarating 3.1 mile (5 km) downhill stretch to Kettlewell. With quaint tea shops and limestone terraces, Kettlewell is a charming little village. You will be spoilt for choice for accommodation options as the village has a hotel, two inns and a fantastic youth hostel.
Your final day of adventure along the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway takes you 21.7 miles (35 km) from Kettlewell to Embsay. You can relax your legs today, with only 1,082 feet (330 metres) of elevation gain. On stage 7, you will never be far from water: the route follows the River Wharfe as it flows Wharfedale valley, passing mystical caves, cascading waterfalls and picturesque villages. After riding through Conistone, you will skirt around Grass Wood, a nature reserve brimming with limestone scars and thick woodland. Grassington is an excellent place to stop for lunch with a range of tea rooms and cafes. The Corner House Cafe and The Retreat Tearoom are popular joints here. Next, cross over the river at Linton Falls and wind through the countryside, passing the villages of Hebden, Hartlington and Appletreewick. The route should become familiar here as you retrace your pedal strokes towards Skipton. It’s well worth spending some time exploring Bolton Abbey, one of Yorkshire’s most popular historical sites, which lies en route. Of course, the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway couldn’t end without one more hill, so you can enjoy a final climb to Halton East, before reaching Embsay. This marks the end of a tough adventure. A popular place for cyclists, Embsay is a large village with all the amenities you could need. To return home, you can either ride or take the Bolton Abbey Steam Railway to Skipton. With direct links to Leeds, Carlisle, Braford and Morecambe, you can return home by train from there. For train tickets and timetables, visit: thetrainline.com/live/departures/skipton