Ride of the Week - Howden
I’ve picked this week’s ride (the first of many) for those who are new to road cycling, or for those who are looking to get back into it. Although the 34-mile (54km) distance might initially look daunting, this route is pan flat and takes you on a tour of the quiet country lanes around Howden. It is ideal for riders who want to avoid traffic and hills, and also for more experienced rouleurs and time triallists who want to get some sustained power through the pedals.
1) Howden is a perfect start and finish point as there is plenty of parking available and a variety of shops where you can buy your pre/during/post-ride sustenance. You’re also out into the countryside in no time at all as you head north past Howden’s curiously positioned railway station well over a mile away.
You take your first left after the station, through Brind and then on to Wressle. If the wind whips up here it could cause you a few early wobbles as the farmers’ fields are certainly exposed. If you’ve got time, you should try and catch a glimpse of Wressle Castle, a privately-owned ruined fortress which lies just off Breighton Road.
2) From Wressle you continue north to Bubwith skirting the River Derwent. On my first visit I was pleasantly surprised to find the Breighton Aerodrome with its fully functioning grass runway and even parked up my bike to watch a biplane pulling all sorts of crazy manoeuvres before landing quietly on the strip. If you’re lucky you might be treated to a similar show, but otherwise press on to Bubwith.
3) You turn right onto the A163 at Bubwith, but you’re only on that main road for half a mile or so before you take another right turn down Street Lane and then left onto the even smaller Willitoft Road which takes you past some impressive houses at Spaldington before you turn left again towards the A614. That’s another main thoroughfare but once you’ve turned right onto it you’ll come off it again just over a mile later by turning left onto Portington Road.
4) Portington Hall will catch your eye as you pass through the small village bearing its name, and I always try to get my head down and my speed up on the arrow-straight road which takes you from Eastrington to Sandholme. An even longer straight section comes as you head south out of Gilberdyke towards Blacktoft, and I cannot recommend this route enough to those hardened riders among you who like to add timed efforts into your training rides. You’ll reach the River Ouse there as it swells into the Humber Estuary and it’s a good place to take a break before one last push back towards Howden.
5) The tiny villages of Yorkefleet, Laxton and Saltmarshe all follow in quick succession after Blacktoft, and my favourite part of the whole ride comes when you emerge from the trees into the estate of Saltmarshe Hall. The fence-lined fields here with their flocks of grazing sheep look like something out of a Constable painting and if you’re feeling inquisitive you can take a quick detour to see the Hall itself before your focus turns back to the road.
6) Skelton is the final dot on the map before you pass through an industrial estate, over the M62 and back into Howden to complete this flat but picturesque loop. If you are a beginner and 34 miles does seem a little too ambitious, there are a multitude of quiet roads criss-crossing this part of the world and you’ll be able to tailor your ride accordingly. Enjoy!
Difficulty Rating: 1 star
Time: 2 Hours 15 Minutes (at 15mph average speed)
Distance: 34 miles (54km)
Parking: Charles Briggs Avenue. Grid Ref: SE 74947 28267
Public Toilets: In the car park on Charles Briggs Avenue