MB - Yorkshire Dales Route
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Yorkshire Dales Route

The Region

The Yorkshire Dales National Park is a haven for mountain bikers. A good network of bridleways and the limestone rock base, which makes for well drained tracks (well ...usually), make it a great choice for any level mountain biker at any time of year.

Most of the climbs are sensible gradients and even beginners shouldn't be left struggling by the steepness, although the length of some may mean extended periods twiddling the granny. There's little singletrack, but enough descents offering a technical challenge as well as length.

Descents offering a serious challenge include: High Gill, from Fleensop Moor (wet?) down into Horsehouse (Outdoor Leisure 30, GR 045814) and Starbotton Cam Road, from Cam Head to Starbotton (Outdoor Leisure 30 GR960752). Expect rocks!! Less intimidating are virtually every other descent in the park - although many just get faster and faster and dare I say it more irresponsible.

Think human, think brakes!

So for a bit of everything and some of the best and most classic views in the Dales, try this one ... a modification of Jeremy Ashcroft's Tour of Pen-y-Ghent as published in the "Mountain Bike Guide to the Lake District, Howgills and Yorkshire Dales". What I hate most is carrying my bike or wading through bogs, and there is a particularly large example on the western side of Pen-Y-Ghent, not far after Hull Pot heading across Foxup Moor (if anyone has some decent routes in the Lakes that don't entail carrying please e-mail us), so this route either avoids it or tackles it in summer on the route back, when a slight downhill gradient helps.


Route Description

OS Landranger 98 Wensleydale or Outdoor Leisure 2 Yorkshire Dales western

Start: Car park/toilets Horton-in-Ribblesdale (£1-50 approx - but its got hot water)
Cafes/Pubs: cafes, pubs, camping and B&Bs in Horton, pub at Helwith
Time/Distance: 3-4.5 hours, quite a long way. Take the B6479 north for approx 2 miles. Turn left on to BW(signed) at GR787747. Take the right fork and then the left onto grassy track to left of wall, through ford to gate. Once through the next gate just keep following the grassy track and the BW markings.

The views of Pen-Y-Ghent to your left are ace. The track is easy going and any gradient soon levels and begins to drop slightly. At junction with the Horton footpath coming up from left (wooden sign) keep going straight on. Through a gate and eventually the track comes into more open ground.

At this point navigation could be tricky, but you're looking for the fork that takes you south-west through Long Scar GR773725. This right fork is not that obvious. Avoid the temptation to go straight on. The track soon after is well defined and drops quickly, bending right down through the scar. You soon meet a gate and then another one (drop off somewhere between - you'll never see it!) From the second gate it's down the rocky, walled Long Lane. Turn left at the bottom into Thwaite Lane and thus left on to the quiet lane back to Helwith Bridge (pub and first option back to Horton. Time approx 1 hour).

From Helwith turn left onto the main road and almost immediately right up stoney track. Fork left soon and keep following this track up and up straight towards Pen-Y-Ghent. It's a good 2 miles to the top and then the track swings south-east and past Dale Head. Turn left onto the Halton Gill road. Follow this up and then down looking for the obvious track on the right to Litton. Take this lovely contouring track, which eventually descends fast and steep into Littondale. Cross the bridge and turn left on to the lane back to Halton Gill (I once heard a story of a woman serving teas in her kitchen here... wishful thinking?).

From here there's a number of options (easiest first): the steep road back to Dale Head and retrace your steps to Helwith Bridge, then road to Horton cafe; or road to Foxup then up the steep grassy BW (you might have to push) branching left to contour back across to the Halton-Stainforth road and hence to Dean Head or for those who aren't knackered fork right and struggle up onto Foxup Moor where easier riding will bring you to the infamous bog. If you make it through (it can be a laugh) then you've got the infamous 3 Peaks cyclo-cross descent of Horton Scar and you'll be able to slide to a stop virtually right outside the cafe ... perfect!

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