Ride of the Week - Harrogate
Commuting to the Great Yorkshire Show a couple of weeks ago reminded me of the great roads you can find around Harrogate, so I took the train there this week to embark on a scenic circular ride which took me through a whole host of picturesque places that lie to the east of the town.
1) I headed out of Harrogate on North Park Road and intersected The Stray before continuing along the A59. Knaresborough is only a few miles away and one of its most famous attractions – Mother Shipton’s Cave – appears on your right as you enter it. You’ll cross a bridge over the River Nidd immediately after it and I’d heartily recommend pausing for a few minutes here to take in one of the best views in the county. When you’re back on your bike, head up the hill and continue along the A59 through the heart of this historic market town, and shortly after take the B6164 towards Wetherby.
2) You’ll reach the countryside proper after you’ve navigated a few quick-fire roundabouts. You’ll flash through the villages of Little Ribston and Kirk Deighton before entering Wetherby as this section is flat and fast – especially if you benefit from a slight tailwind like I did. Boston Spa is a little further down the road and always one of my favourite places to visit. You’ll pass along its quaint High Street before taking a left down Bridge End and over the River Wharfe.
3) As you continue towards Walton you’ll pass HMP Wealstun on your right, and Leeds United’s training ground appears somewhat surprisingly on the opposite side of the road. Turn right shortly after that and it will lead you onto another fast section which takes you into Wighill, with its impressive church rising above the treeline as you do so. When you’ve made it to that, turn left and drop down towards Healaugh. You’ll be surrounded by lush fields at this point and able to take in amazing views wherever you look.
4) Copmanthorpe is the next village of note and you’ll pass through that once you’ve crossed over the A64. The 10-mile stretch from here to Tadcaster is about as flat as it gets and perfect for time triallists who want to get some efforts into their ride. You don’t have to be a wannabe Bradley Wiggins to enjoy these roads though, they are quiet and ideal for cyclists of all ages and abilities. Appleton Roebuck serves as a good halfway point if you need another rest stop before you reach Tadcaster.
5) From Tadcaster, head towards Bramham and follow West Woods Road back into Wetherby alongside the A1. You’ll only double back on yourself for a short while as you’ll take the first exit just after crossing the River Wharfe and then onto Linton Road. Up to this point there’s barely been a bump in the road but the drags out of Wetherby and Sicklinghall could both sting after 50 miles of pedalling, and you’ll continue to climb steadily all the way to Kirkby Overblow. From there, turn right at The Star and Garter pub and take Walton Head Lane all the way down to the A61.
6) The most direct route back into Harrogate comes on the A61 itself, but I prefer to detour via Burn Bridge and take one last ascent up Yew Tree Lane before dropping into town via Otley Road and skirting The Stray once again before heading along West Park. It was here where stages of both the Tour de Yorkshire and France culminated and of course this September the finishing destination of all Yorkshire2019 events, you’ll only have a few hundred metres to go at this point before you’re back at the station after 56 enjoyable miles in the saddle.
Difficulty Rating: 2 stars
Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes (at 16mph average speed)
Distance: 56 miles (90km)
Parking: Victoria Car Park. Grid Ref: SE 30461 55363
Public Toilets: Located in Harrogate Railway Station