Bike route: Wonderful place to park and ride

I was visiting Roundhay Park this week so decided to take my bike along and take a trip into Nidderdale afterwards and then on to the Dales.

For anyone living in Leeds, Roundhay Park is a great starting point for a bike ride as it is close to the city but a world away from the hustle and bustle found in the centre.

1. I parked up near Tropical World and once I’d crossed the ring road I was faced with my first little ramp up Roundhay Park Lane. From there I continued in to Wyke and joined up with Harrogate Road shortly after. I passed through Harewood and really enjoyed the wide sweeping descent down to the River Wharfe before following signs to North Rigton. From then on it was country lanes all the way and the road undulated consistently for the next few miles before I climbed on to the moorside just after Beckwithshaw.

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2. It was pretty exposed up there but thankfully the weather gods were looking kindly upon me and there were no significant gusts to hamper my progress. That climb was fairly gradual too and I was greeted by great views as I reached the top before another fun descent into Black Hill. I could see a long way ahead on that section and easily reached top speed before coming to a safe halt at the junction. RAF Menwith Hill – with its giant ‘golf balls’ – was my next point of interest and I pedalled right past its perimeter fence once I’d crossed the A59.

3. I pressed on and the next nine miles were almost exclusively uphill. The road took me past Thruscross Reservoir and over to Greenhow which is one of the highest villages in Yorkshire. Nine miles of ascending might sound daunting to some but the gradient never got anywhere near double figures and I’d describe it as more of a long, steady drag over the moorside. Just as an aside, it was announced this week that the 2018 Tour de Yorkshire will feature this section – albeit in the opposite direction.

4. From Greenhow the route was downhill almost the whole way into Grassington. In my opinion, the view that greets you on your approach to Stump Cross Caverns is one of the best in the county and you can see into the distance before you gather speed on the slope. That acceleration allowed me to make short work of a short ramp that came shortly after, and no sooner had I crested that summit than I was descending past Grimwith Reservoir. If the road signs are to be believed this section reaches 16% in places and I’d urge to anyone who takes it on to stay on their brakes as there is a tight right-hander at the bottom.

5. By this point my fatigue was building but there were only four miles between there and home. I know these roads well and always like the steep drop into Hebden, but I’m aware of the crossroads which comes immediately after crossing Hebden Beck so never go flat out. After climbing out of Hebden it was plain sailing into Grassington and I was treated to a few more s-bends before reaching my destination in the village’s cobbled square.

Difficulty Rating: HHHHH

Time: 2 hours 16 minutes (at 15mph average speed)

Distance: 34 miles (55km)

Parking: Tram Park on Princes Avenue

Grid Ref: SE 00258 63749

Public toilets: Located in Roundhay Park and National Park Centre in Grassington

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