The Yorkshire Dales is one of the finest landscapes in the country, with marvellous limestone formations contrasting with the heather clad moorlands and valley bottoms full of meadows, dry stone walls and scattered with field barns. There are many lovely villages and towns to explore along the way, where you get the chance to have a break and discover some of the fascinating history of the area.
Cycling is a lovely way to explore the area either as part of a visit or a touring holiday. You get to see more and feel more in touch with the countryside around you, and you can be fully justified in stopping for a slab of cake or a pint of locally brewed beer. What’s more you will be helping to protect this wonderful area by moving around in a sustainable way.
The whole area provides fabulous cycling opportunities from gentle routes in the valleys to some challenging climbs over the moorland that separates them. From the wild and remote northern dales to the rolling farmland in the east, the cycling is always memorable for the fantastic scenery and beautiful villages. You can devise routes of your own or use the information on this website to help you find a route right for you.
The Swale Trail is aimed at aspiring young mountain bikers and families who want to ride together. It is a unique facility in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – a valley bottom route 20km (12 miles) in length, of which 70% is on unsurfaced tracks. The Trail runs between Reeth and Keld in Swaledale and is easy to follow. You can do different sections or the whole route and there is bike hire, cafes and places to stop along the way.
For many people Swaledale is the most beautiful valley in the Dales and the Swale Trail is a great way to experience it. Around 70% of the route is on unsurfaced tracks following existing routes that the National Park has upgraded, cleared and levelled to improve the riding surface along with installing Swale Trail signposting. The rest of the route follows quiet back roads.
As cyclists saunter along the trail which snakes its way beside the River Swale, they can enjoy spectacular views across the unspoilt landscape and glean snapshots of Swaledale’s history.
For instance the first section of the trail from Reeth is known as the Corpse Way, a route once used by families to carry their loved ones along the valley to Grinton Church and where there are still large stone slabs that acted as resting places for the coffins.
The four-mile middle section from Low Whita, which is flatter and will suit families with younger children who want to pedal along just part of the trail, goes through native woodland and past clumps of wild juniper, before it reaches the village of Gunnerside.
Here’s a good place for a midway pit stop at the pub or tearoom before tackling the slightly hillier, wilder section of the route towards Keld. On this section cyclists will pass long abandoned settlements harking back to the once-thriving lead mining industry; meadows that are brimming with colour in late spring and early summer when the wild flowers are in full bloom; and spectacular waterfalls.
The picture-perfect villages of Reeth and Keld also provide a good choice of cafes, tearooms and pubs as well as an ice cream parlour.
Bike hire can be arranged through the Dales Bike Centre at Fremington near Reeth, or from Stage1 Cycles at nearby Hawes. You can pick up a leaflet and map of the route at Reeth National Park Centre (on the left-hand side of the market square) or at Dales Bike Centre. Alternatively, you can see an interactive map of the route and download a copy from the route page.
As part of the fight against the spread of Coronavirus (COVID19), Welcome to Yorkshire and Amaury Sport Organisation, co-organizers of Tour de Yorkshire, have decided to postpone the upcoming sixth edition of the annual cycle race.
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