Bike Route: Stunning scenery, aching limbs

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.

The River Esk in Goathland, on the North Yorks Moors, pictured by Graham Warrender of Town Moor.

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 [email protected]

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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.