A steep hill in Swaledale
Great Places to Cycle in the Yorkshire Dales
Between Kilnsey Cragg and Kettlewell, there is a quiet valley called Littondale. This is rolling, but quiet and not too steep. It goes all the way to Halton Gill before climbing South West towards Pen Y Ghent.
From Halton Gill, the road climbs to over 436 metres, but is not too steep. The road then descends into Stainforth (17% descent) or you can turn left into Malham.
From Ilkley, there is a minor road towards Bolton Abbey. From Bolton Abbey there are two roads either side of the River Wharfe going north towards Burnsall and Grassington. Either road is not too busy and is quite pleasant to cycle along. The minor road on the east side is quite steep around Bolton Abbey and Cavendish Pavillion.
At Buckden, the gentle Wharfedale comes to an end leaving you a choice of Fleet Moss or Kidstones Pass to righ.
Ribblehead viaduct is a great location to aim for. You can take the B6479 from Settle or B6255 from Ingleton. This road goes north towards Hawes.
Unfortunately, the B roads are quite busy and there are some heavy lorries carrying stone from the local quarries. From Ingleton there is a nice minor road parallel to the B6255 to Chapel le Dale.
A freight train on the Settle-Carlise.
Also consider making use of Settle-Carlise line. It is an epic trainline and you can take your bike and get off at any station on the route.
Not strictly speaking in Yorkshire Dales, but close by and worth visiting. Nidderdale
A Ride in the Yorkshire Dales
Inspired by 100 greatest climbs, yesterday, I did a very different kind of ride and tackled some of the toughest hills of the Yorkshire Dales. It turned into a long tough day on the bike – 115 miles and 4 big climbs.
Looking towards Reeth in Swaledale
Fleet Moss Climb
The first climb was Fleet Moss (17% – height gain 350 metres) after 35 miles of leaving Menston. There was a fine mist at the top of the climb, it felt like riding into the clouds; it meant the descent had to be taken with care as visibility was much reduced at the top. I’ve also found a bigger obstacle than pedestrians with headphones or white van drivers – sheep! sheep really are a potential menace for the cyclist. They have this habit of running in front of you at the last minute. Rather than run away they seem to run into danger. It can be tricky if you’re descending quickly.
From Hubberholme to the top of Fleet Moss is 12Km, with total elevation gain of 400 metres. (net gain 240m to 602metres).
The final real climb of Fleet Moss is 4Km, averaging 8%. It is 17% at the top.
From Hawes to Fleet Moss is steeper, with max gradient of 20%
Buttertubs is a long steep climb connecting Hawes to Muker
Buttertubs, looking towards Hawes.
After descending into Hawes, I took the Buttertubs pass over to Muker. The ascent form Hawes is not too bad – max gradient of 17%. The descent into Muker offered great views of Swaledale, with some sharp hairpin descents. After a short respite, there was another climb to Askrigg. This starts off with a really steep 25% section with numerous hairpins. It then levels out, before a long drag to the summit.
The 25% climb to Askrigg.
Coverdale / Park Rash Climb
After racing with a tailwind along the Wensleydale valley to Leyburn, I switched back to Middleham and Coverdale. This was a really difficult section as it was all headwind. The climb is not viciously steep, but, it is very long and undulating. The net gain is not too much, but, it is actually made of many small up and down sections. After innumerable false summits, I was relieved to reach the top of the Park Rash climb near Kettlewell, which afforded great views down to lower Wharfedale.
The descent down Park Rash. – It gets worse later on (25%). But, to be honest, it’s not very practical to stop and take a few photos!
The descent into Kettlewell is very unsatisfying as it requires you to sacrifice a good percentage of your brake blocks on the 25% sharp hairpin descents. It would have been great fun to ascend the other way (at least with fresh legs), but is a pretty tough descent. It wasn’t the first time on the ride, I was glad to have the power of the new Dura Ace Brake blocks. After reaching the valley and escaping the tough cold head wind, I got a second wind and enjoyed the last 25 miles along the relative flat through Grassington, Burnsall and Ilkely. I averaged 16.8mph which shows how tough all the 20-25% climbs were.
A good way to enjoy the Yorkshire Dales!
What I ate on Ride
- 6 Kellogs Nutri Grain bars (it’s easy to get sick of same energy bar)
- 1 High 5 Energy bar
- 3 bananas
- 1 flapjack from shop in Middleham
- 2* bottles of High 5 energy drink
- 2 bottles of water
- 1 Tracker Raisin bar.
Yorkshire Dales Cycle Sportive. Etape du Dales is 112 miles but takes in a few different climbs going through Horton in Ribblesdale and Garsdale.