I headed out of Harrogate on North Park Road and intersected The Stray before continuing along the A59. Knaresborough is only a few miles away and one of its most famous attractions – Mother Shipton’s Cave – appears on your right. You’ll cross a bridge over the River Nidd immediately after it and I’d heartily recommend pausing for a few minutes here to take in one of the best views in the county. When you are back on your bike, head up the hill and continue along the A59 through the heart of this historic market town, and shortly after take the B6164 towards Wetherby.
The Tour de Yorkshire took this route back in April, albeit in the opposite direction, and you’ll reach the countryside proper after a few quick-fire roundabouts. You’ll flash through the villages of Little Ribston and Kirk Deighton before entering Wetherby as this section is flat and fast. Boston Spa is a little further down the road and always one of my favourite places. You’ll pass along its High Street before taking a left down Bridge End and over the River Wharfe.
As you continue towards Walton you’ll pass HMP Wealstun on your right, and Leeds United’s training ground appears on the opposite side of the road. Turn right shortly after that and it will lead you on to another fast section which takes you into Wighill, with its impressive church. When you’ve made it to that, turn left and drop down towards Healaugh. You’ll be surrounded by lush fields at this point and able to take in amazing views wherever you look.
Copmanthorpe is the next village of note and you’ll pass through that once you’ve crossed over the A64. The 10-mile stretch from here to Tadcaster is as flat as it gets. Appleton Roebuck serves as a good halfway point if you need a rest stop before you reach Tadcaster, and you’ll be retracing the steps of some of the world’s best riders as you traverse its reopened bridge.
From Tadcaster, head towards Bramham and follow West Woods Road back into Wetherby alongside the A1. You’ll only double back on yourself for a short while as you’ll take the first exit just after crossing the River Wharfe and then on to Linton Road. Up to this point there’s barely been a bump in the road but the drags out of Wetherby and Sicklinghall could both sting, and you’ll continue to climb steadily all the way to Kirkby Overblow. From there, turn right at The Star and Garter pub and take Walton Head Lane all the way down to the A61.
The most direct route back into Harrogate comes on the A61, but I prefer to detour via Burn Bridge and take one last ascent up Yew Tree Lane before dropping into town via Otley Road and skirting The Stray before heading along West Park to the station after 56 enjoyable miles in the saddle.