Cycling: the best way to discover Yorkshire banner image

Cycling: the best way to discover Yorkshire

Since hosting the Tour de France in 2014, cycling in Britain has bloomed, and particularly in Yorkshire. Steven Rittey from Wheel2Wheel Holidays shows us some his favourite spots in the north of the county to enjoy on two wheels – with the compulsory seaside stop included!

Yorkshire has a growing reputation as a great cycling location and benefited massively from the Tour de France passing through the region in 2014. The event riding through the area drew millions of people to the region both on the day and its legacy has continued through the Tour de Yorkshire race in the summer. I was fortunate to be working at the Sheffield Grandstand finish at the TdF 2014 and enjoyed a great roadside spot near Skipton on the Saturday to watch the peloton zip by.

The Tour de France weekend remains one of my personal highlights from living in the north of England and I would say that it was the most memorable sporting event to be held in Britain since Euro 96. When I left the finish line area near the Sheffield Motorpoint Arena to catch the train home, I felt genuinely sad and emotional that it was all over.

I try and ride around Yorkshire as frequently as possible and mainly ride in the 'Happy Valley' area of Calderdale, however last year, I decided to head further north into North Yorkshire to go to the popular seaside town of Whitby, the classic English seaside resort Scarborough and the historic Yorkshire town of Pickering.

This is a part of the county that I do not visit often, so I wanted to take in some of the more famous sights in the region. I caught the train on a busy summer Saturday in August to Malton. The train was incredibly busy, but I managed to get some space for my bike and starting chatting to an Australian family over in Yorkshire for a couple of weeks to visit relatives.

I left the busy train full of daytrippers to Scarborough and quickly left the market town of Malton and headed towards Pickering. Pickering is the gateway to the North Yorkshire Moors and also home to the North Yorkshire Moors railway. This is an 18 mile line that connects the town with Whitby. The attraction now has over 350,000 visitors annually and is one of the country's best preserved and popular heritage railways. The station is kept authentic right down to the old advertising signage, phone boxes and British Railways destination boards. The town is also famous for being in the TV series 'Heartbeat' and the nearby natural beauty spot of Dalby Forest.

I cycled along the main road to Whitby and the A169 road to the coast. This is a fairly busy road, but has some excellent climbs along the way. You will also see the secretive RAF Fylingdales base perched on a not so secret position in the Moors. You cannot miss the large radar station and this gives the area an eerie feel. According to Wikipedia, some coach drivers on their way to Whitby, Filey and Scarborough will tune into the frequencies and listen to the radio interference caused by the radars! There is also the 'Devil's Punchbowl' like natural landform called the Hole of Horcum that is a popular viewing point and hiking area.

I arrived into Whitby after negotiating some very steep climbs and descents and caught the end of the Whitby Regatta Sportive on the seafront. Whitby was absolutely packed due to the summer festival and this meant that I could not explore the town as I could not wheel my bike through the crowds. I did catch a glimpse of the Abbey, the Whaling Statue and the pretty marina though. My next plan was to ride along the disused Whitby to Scarborough railway line known as the Cinder Track which runs parallel to Robin Hood’s Bay. This is one of the best off-road cycle paths in the country, however the gravel, cinder surface and mud made the route unsuitable for my road bike. I rejoined the main road for a fast ride along the hectic, rollercoaster like A road 21 miles down the coast to Scarborough instead.

I am a big fan of British seaside towns and Scarborough has always been one of my favourites. I like the feeling of Victorian grandeur that the buildings impose and also the sweeping beaches in the two bays. The town is still really popular with both holidaymakers and day trippers, despite the impact of cheap flights to more sunnier climes. Like Whitby, it was nearly impossible for me to walk along the promenade with my bike and I had to eat an ice cream huddled away from the crowds by the landmark Grand Hotel.

Scarborough is definitely more of a 'bucket and spade' seaside town compared to Whitby and is the largest seaside resort on Yorkshire's East Coast. The hills both in and out of the town make it a great spot for road cycling and Scarborough was recently a stage finish in the 2015 Tour de Yorkshire race.

I left Scarborough and cycled back to Malton to catch the train back to Manchester. This was one of those great 'triangle' rides that go back to where you started from. It was a warm, sunny evening and I loved riding into the sun through the B roads. In fact, I usually try to end a ride going into the sunshine on the way home. It just leaves me feeling great to be out on the bike and inspires me to want to do another ride the next weekend.