Developing a Coast to Coast
Two years ago, as the snow fell in lumps from a whitened sky, I sat at home bored, messing about with mapping to pick out the best rides across Northern England – in one linking route.
Looking at a starting point I remembered my wife and I travelling the Wainwright route on foot – Cleator Moor – no way! If anything had to be avoided it was a ride through this section.
The family and I have had some great holiday rides on Old Ratty, the Ravenglass Railway, so there it was – a place to set off from. And as I looked across the map, almost opposite it was the tiny coastal village of Ravescar – an obvious choice. We now had a route with a ring to it: Ravenglass to Ravenscar. How did you miss this Wainwright!
But this route had to be more about just getting from one side to the other. It had to take in the best riding in the north, including some of the forest trail centres. Grizedale and Dalby fitted nicely into the mix, so now it was time to add some climbs and descents.
Endless amendments and discussions with friends, led to a variety of iterations; including the loop down into Whardale. This was always an extravagance, and was simply designed to enjoy the descent of Mastiles Lane – no bad thing for those who have enjoyed rocky Wharfdale. The Dales route had to be changed as we started discussions with Harvey Maps. If we wanted it to fit onto one map, there had to be a direct Dales crossing. Dent has always been a favourite of mine and of Norman’s, so the Howgills joined the mix.
Wensleydale was a necessity, often overlooked by riders, but containing some great drove roads. Swaledale was the obvious finishing point for the Dales and having a friend in Stu at the Dales Cycle Centre made his venue the obvious halt.
Crossing to the Moors provided sleepless nights. In the main it’s a place to be avoided by mountain bikes. Whilst tarmac cannot be avoided, we were not going to have the endless drags that walkers have to suffer on the coast to coast foot route.
In order to achieve this, several options were ridden, including a trip south to Sandhutton and Thirsk. But the best option was always Osmotherley, with memories of the Queen Catherine Inn and some great technical trails. From here we have to thank the knowledge and expertise of others. I’d always liked Rosedale singletrack, having been influenced by reading and listening about Adrian Carter and this hidden sweet singletrack. This and some tips from Steven Tilly regarding Chop Gate produced an epic route, where all roads led to Dalby.
Now it was time to have one last play, on some of the world’s best cross country forest trails, before heading to the coast. In doing so, hopefully we’d produced a route of epic proportions, where the need for tarmac was replaced with the need for speed – downhill and technical!
Final discussions with Harvey Maps, making sure that everything fitted, gave the opportunity for more rides along the route, and the opportunity to sample the cafes and pubs once more. Now all that’s left is for you guys to get out and ride the route, accompanied by a Harvey Map – and the guidebook of course (currently being finished off). Hopefully it’ll give you the ride of life and a taste of what’s on offer in these three superb National parks.
As for us – time to get researching the next long route. A trip up north to Scotland sounds fun!