Helen Pollard and the Wensleydale Bike Club took a bunch of children to explore Sutton Bank - and now you can follow the adventure too!
Wensleydale Bike Club has been running since 2014 affiliated to British Cycling as a Go-ride Club. The club is run on a voluntary basis, hosting sessions on Saturday/Sunday and Monday (term time) The sessions are accessible by a full range of cyclists to those wobbly wheelers learning to ride, to advanced MTB and ladies MTB.
This adventure post follows our Easter away trip to Sutton Bank North York Moors National Park. Since the outset the club as sought funding to support cycling away days in the holidays. The aim is to allow children and young people to visit new inspiring outdoor areas and support working families with positive childcare activities in the holidays. The funding allows the club to offer trips at an affordable cost of £5. Bikes are also available to loan free of charge. This particular trip was kindly funded via the Roger Stott Community Fund managed by the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.
Sutton Bank is 15 mins outside the pretty market Town of Thirsk. Thirsk is famous for being the home of Alf White the author who wrote about his experiences as a vet under the name of James Herriot ‘All creatures great and small’.
This post follows our group on the long blue
route Drovers which includes a number of steep ascent and descents. This is for
the main is a nontechnical route however there are some reasonable long climbs
and descents. A shorter loop Fort of 5.5 miles avoids the ascent/descent and is
suitable for younger families. For both blue routes it is recommended that
children have a reasonable level of fitness, confident on a geared bike and
have a level of experience riding on off road conditions. There are no
amenities on route so a pack lunch, plenty of water and essential supplies such
as a spare inner tube and first aid kit are recommended.
The blue starts immediately at the end of the
car park and follows a fun fast little single track through the woods.
Here our group stopped to meet Simon the local NYM ranger. The club had arranged for the children to have a go at maintaining the trail. As part of the Go-MTB award scheme we follow in our club the children are encouraged to develop a sense of responsibility for the environment they ride in. Recognising the requirement to treat the trails with respect by understanding the work needed to preserve them was powerful learning experience for the children. In addition, it was great fun, shoveling, borrowing and squashing. The NYM rangers are happy to work with groups of any young people addressing a range of environmental stewardship issues
After this point we leave the National Park centre and head out onto the Natural trails and quiet country roads
After travelling across country, you reach High Barn we found this to be a good point to stop for lunch. There are some fantastic views to enjoy your sandwiches and the trees create a natural playground for the kids to enjoy.
After this point the bridleway descends steeply
to the forest fire road. This section if muddy will be challenging for younger
or less experienced children and close supervision will be needed.
Once at the forest fire road you start to ascend
through the forest. There is a mixture of reasonable lengthy climbs and short
sharp climbs before you rejoin the bridleway leading back to the centre. Jelly
babies maybe needed along the way with promises of ice-cream to complete this
section without too much moaning.
Once you reach the Cliff trail bridle way
returning to the centre it is worth noting this is a shared route with walkers.
The return route joins the green and red routes and provides a fabulous viewing
point and an excellent photo opportunity point at the end of the ride.
Finish - 8.83 miles (14.2km)
SE 513 831
The NYM National Park centre is an ideal base
offering toilets, cafe, bike shop and visitor centre amenities. At the Bike
shop there is a small skills loop which the kids loved and a bike wash (£1
token required). Car Parking Charges apply.
If you are interested in developing your
children cycling capacity accessing a community club is a fun and safe way to
develop skills. British Cycling has Go-Ride Clubs throughout the country. Check
britishcycling.org.uk/go-ride-for-clubs for registered clubs in your area. If you are in the Wensleydale
area our club is always open to new members. For more details please contact Helen Pollard.
Cycling UK also supports community based clubs
and offers skill coaching and led ride activities through their Big Bike