Bike Route: Stunning scenery, aching limbs

The River Esk in Goathland, on the North Yorks Moors, pictured by Graham Warrender of Town Moor.
The River Esk in Goathland, on the North Yorks Moors, pictured by Graham Warrender of Town Moor.
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One of the best things about writing this column is it takes me to places I’ve never been and I was grateful to receive an email a few weeks ago from Elaine Ward at Scarborough Paragon Cycling Club suggesting I try one of her favourite rides.

As such, I took a trip to Pickering and embarked on a voyage of discovery which took me right into the heart of the North York Moors. It’s always great to receive recommendations so if you have any rides you suggest I take on, please email me at nhowes@yorkshire.com

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After parking up on The Ropery I passed Pickering Railway Station and caught a glimpse of the historic castle on my right as I headed out to the north of town. Once I’d traversed the level crossing the road began rising steadily all the way to Newton upon Rawcliffe. Before I reached Stape I heard a train whistling somewhere to my right. That distracted me from what had proved to be a hilly start to the ride and it seemed as though I was almost constantly ascending for first eight miles or so.

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As the trees gradually made way for open moorland I almost ran over a snake and saw it scuttle into the banking as I swerved to avoid it. It was only when I did some research after the ride that I discovered adders are found in this part of the world. The road, meanwhile, continued to undulate heavily and there were a few difficult drags to contend with before I descended off Wheeldale Moor. There was a ford to splash through as I crossed Wheeldale Gill.

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The climb after the Gill was an absolute brute with sections easily in excess of 20% and I was almost on my limit as I crawled my way to the top. The views at the summit were just reward however and I could see for miles. The descent into Edgton Bridge was tight and it took me all the way down to the River Esk. Once I’d crossed that I took a left turn on to Broom House Lane and I was back onto my small ring again as I climbed up the opposite side of the valley. I took a left at the T junction on to Egton Lane and continued towards Glaisdale. There were a few tight bends to deal with as I dropped down Limber Hill.

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I finally got some respite from the rolling terrain after I’d climbed out of Glaisdale and took some time to rest and refuel. After two and a half miles or so the road forked and I followed the signpost towards Rosedale. That was where the ‘fun’ began again and the infamous Caper Hill was upon me. Although it’s less than a mile long, this beast has an average gradient of 14%, with sections way over 25%. The pain only relented once I’d made it to the junction on Glaisdale High Moor and after I’d turned right there I did enjoy the descent into Ainthorpe.

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My legs were tiring by the time I reached Westerdale but I summoned the power to haul myself up the three-mile rise back onto the moorside. Thankfully, that was pretty much it for climbing and I flew down to Rosedale Abbey before continuing on through Cropton and picked up the A170 up at Aislaby. From there it was only two miles back into Pickering.