As Yorkshire gears up for one of the world’s biggest cycling competitions, now is the time to get on your bike and explore the landscape that top cyclists use to train.
Harrogate is the main host town for the UCI 2019 Road World Championships, with eight days of racing (22-29 September) and over a thousand athletes competing.
The Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) - one of 46 AONBs in the UK - makes up nearly half of the Harrogate district. The area will play a big part in the UCI with four of the 12 races passing through different parts of the AONB.
Richard Spencer, Director of Visit Harrogate, said: “Nidderdale is popular with some of UK cycling’s biggest names because of its quiet roads, gruelling climbs and unique scenery. It is no surprise that this area was at the heart of stage one of the Tour de France in 2014 and numerous editions of the Tour de Yorkshire. The World Championships in September will showcase this stunning landscape to the 250m global television audience and will inspire visitors to experience it for themselves.”
The AONB features 600km sq. of protected working landscape, with nationally and internationally important habitats and wildlife.
Sarah Kettlewell, Manager at Nidderdale AONB, said; “We hope people of all ages and abilities are inspired to explore. It’s a great way to get up close to nature, cycling is better for the environment and better for us, not just for the exercise but time spent in nature is proven to boost wellbeing. The countryside is our free and beautiful Natural Health Service.”
From mountain bike routes over the remote Dallowgill Moor, or 80 mile road cycling loops through the length and breadth of Nidderdale’s beautiful scenery, to short but steep killer climbs and quiet routes for family cycles, Nidderdale AONB is a cyclist’s paradise for all riders.
Nidderdale Greenway – a 4 mile (6.5km) traffic-free cycle route, which connects Ripley, on the edge of Nidderdale AONB, to Harrogate and Knaresborough on a converted railway line. There are unsigned on-road connections between Ripley and the AONB, the Way of the Roses cycle route and the stunning Yorkshire Dales National Park to the west.
Yorkshire Water have created a series of family friendly cycle routes close to some of their reservoirs in the AONB, including Swinsty, Fewston and Scar House.
Killer Hill Climbs
Here are four ‘killer’ hill climbs for road cyclists, guaranteed to get your heart pumping!
Peat Lane, Bewerley – a two mile Category 3 climb with 711ft of climbing, over half of it in the first few hundred metres.
Trapping Hill, Lofthouse – a Category 3 climb in the heart of Upper Nidderdale – probably the most gruelling and relentless in the Dale.
Two Stoops, Nought Moor Road, Bewerley – a Category 3 climb with some punishing ramps in its profile – with an average gradient of 10%.
Old Church Lane, Pateley Bridge – a Category 3 climb, which starts at the top of Pateley Bridge high street and features the longest and steepest sustained gradient of the four.
There’s a whole range of mountain biking terrain in Nidderdale – from walled lanes with firm surfaces to grassy tracks, rocky descents and climbs over the moors to put your mountain bike through its paces.
Brimham Blast: A short but intense mountain bike ride with spectacular views across Nidderdale and challenging uphill and downhill sections. Start: Stif Cycles, Summerbridge. Length: 9 miles (15km). Difficulty: difficult.
Brimham Loop: A mountain bike ride of great variety through woodland and on quiet roads with stunning views of Nidderdale and a final descent along an ancient packhorse route. Start: Stif Cycles, Summerbridge. Length: 10 miles (15.5km). Difficulty: moderate.
Tour of Nidderdale: The all-weather mountain biking classic starting at the head of Nidderdale. This off road cycle route takes you on stony tracks high above the valley before descending to Bouthwaite and returning through farmland back up the valley. Start: Scar House Reservoir, near Lofthouse. Length: 15 miles (24km). Difficulty: difficult.
Great Greenhow: A long cross-country mountain biking route with some prolonged climbs and epic views over the Yorkshire Dales on quiet roads and remote stone tracks. Start: Pateley Bridge Showground car park. Length: 25 miles (42km). Difficulty: severe.
Gouthwaite Circular: A good introductory route to Yorkshire dales mountain biking, this follows a track alongside Gouthwaite reservoir, back down the other side on tarmac before a more technical section through old mine workings. Start: Pateley Bridge. Length: 12 miles (21km). Difficulty: moderate.
Please be aware that these routes use bridleways and country roads which are also used by horse riders and walkers. Ride responsibly, while showing respect for others, and care for the environment.
Road cycling is an awe-inspiring way to explore some of the beautiful scenery, small towns and villages.
Northern AONB loop – This is a 40 mile (65km) circular cycle route which explores the northern part of Nidderdale AONB including Pateley Bridge, Upper Nidderdale, Masham and some of the eastern villages.
The route passes by The Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal World Heritage Site and Brimham Rocks.
Southern AONB loop – This is a 39 mile (63km) circular route (with the option of an extra 4 miles (6km) each way to Ilkley) which explores the southern part of Nidderdale AONB including the Washburn Valley, the towns of Ilkley and Otley and some of the beautiful villages of lower Nidderdale.
Combine these two routes to explore the Nidderdale AONB in full on your bike and take in some of the iconic roads, climbs and descents that are loved by locals and professionals alike.
Visit https://nidderdaleaonb.org.uk/ to download maps and more info.
For more on visiting the Harrogate District go to: www.visitharrogate.co.uk