Ride of the Week - Pickering
I took a trip to Pickering and embarked on a voyage of discovery which took me right into the heart of the North York Moors.
1) After parking up on The Ropery I passed Pickering Railway Station and caught a glimpse of the historic Castle on my right as I headed out to the north of town. I was surrounded by countryside in no time at all and once I’d traversed the level crossing the road began rising steadily all the way to Newton upon Rawcliffe. Before I reached Stape I heard a train whistling somewhere to my right and glanced over to see plumes of steam rising in the distance. That distracted me from what had proved to be a hilly start to the ride and it seemed as though I was almost constantly ascending for first eight miles or so.
2) As the trees gradually made way for open moorland I almost ran over a snake after mistaking it for a twig in the road, and saw it scuttle into the banking as I swerved to avoid it. It was only when I did some research after the ride that I discovered adders are found in this part of the world. The road meanwhile continued to undulate heavily and there were a few difficult drags to contend with before I descended off Wheeldale Moor. On the way down some wayward sheep also threatened to derail me, and there was a ford to splash though as I crossed Wheeldale Gill. Keep these in mind if you attempt the ride too.
3) The climb after the Gill was an absolute brute with sections easily in excess of 20% and I was almost on my limit as I crawled my way to the top. The views at the summit were just reward however and I could see for miles in every direction - this was Heartbeat country at its bold and brilliant best. The subsequent descent into Edgton Bridge was tight and it took me all the way down to the River Esk. Once I’d crossed that I took a left turn onto Broom House Lane and I was back onto my small ring again as I climbed up the opposite side of the valley. I took a left at the T junction onto Edgton Lane and continued towards Glaisdale. There were a few tight bends to deal with as I dropped down Limber Hill and they kept me on my toes.
4) I finally got some respite from the rolling terrain after I’d climbed out of Glaisdale and took some time to rest and refuel. After two and a half miles or so the road forked and I followed the signpost towards Rosedale. That was where the ‘fun’ began again and the infamous Caper Hill was upon me. Although it’s less than a mile long, this beast has an average gradient of 14%, with sections way over 25%. It was a nightmare to find the right rhythm and the cattle grid halfway up it was also an unwelcome surprise. The pain only relented once I’d made it to the junction on Glaisdale High Moor and after I’d turned right there I was too tired to survey the special scenery. I did enjoy the long, fast descent into Ainthorpe though.
5) My legs were certainly tiring by the time I reached Westerdale but I summonsed the power to haul myself up the unrelenting three-mile rise back onto the moorside. Thankfully, that was pretty much it for climbing and I flew down to Rosedale Abbey before continuing on through Cropton and picked up the A170 up at Aislaby. From there it was only two miles back into Pickering where I completed one of the most difficult but rewarding loops of the year.
Difficulty Rating: 5 stars
Time: 3 hours 35 minutes (at 14mph average speed)
Distance: 50 miles (80km)
Parking: The Ropery Car Park. Grid Ref: SE 79641 83985
Public Toilets: Located in the car park