Cycle route from Lower Wensleydale Club site

Jonathan Manning follows part of the route of the 2014 Tour de France on this picturesque ride from Lower Wensleydale Club site in North Yorkshire.

It is seven years since Yorkshire hosted the start of the Tour de France and opened the world's eyes to the wonderful cycling landscape the county has to offer. This route encompasses part of the first stage of the 2014 Tour through the Yorkshire Dales and on a fine, bright day it’s hard to think of anywhere better to ride.

The landscape changes from drystone walls and wildflower-filled meadows to wild and remote moorland as you dive into Swaledale before climbing up and over into Wensleydale. The breeze echoes to the haunting call of curlew as well as staccato bursts of gunfire from the army ranges of Catterick Garrison. The views are utterly stunning, the roads are quiet, bar – or should that be baa! – the odd sheep and the villages are achingly pretty. 

Leyburn makes for a fabulous starting point, a handsome market town with an abundance of shops and cafés, before the ride gets going in earnest. Red flags and road signs warn riders not to stray onto the firing ranges, but as the route presses farther into Swaledale the vistas become ever more spine-tingling and the peacefulness of the surroundings seem to envelop you. 

As Grinton rises into view, the route turns its back on Swaledale and climbs steeply skywards, through heather moorland, before eventually descending deliriously into Wensleydale. The formidable 14th Century fortress of Bolton Castle, in the pretty village of Castle Bolton, is a great stopping point and also offers the chance to refuel in the tearoom following your exertions! 

Descending to the attractive village of Redmire, a quick detour leads to the falls of Redmire Force, where the River Ure puts on a powerful display. Alternatively, it’s a fairly level ride back, via the village of Wensley, to Leyburn and Lower Wensleydale Club site just outside town. 

You can also download the route for this ride from our dedicated Strava page here


1 Turn right from the gates of Lower Wensleydale Club site and right again at the T-junction with the A684. Continue into Leyburn to a mini-roundabout outside the Bolton Arms. 

2 2.4km – Turn right at the roundabout, signposted to Bellerby, Catterick Garrison and Richmond, then in 100m turn left into Grove Square, following signs to Grinton and Reeth. Continue, uphill initially, for 3km to a crossroads. 

3 5.3km – Go straight over the crossroads, signposted to Grinton and Reeth, passing between firing ranges. Continue for 7.5km, eventually passing Grinton YHA on the right. 

4 11.9km – Shortly after the YHA, turn left, signposted to Redmire. Stay on this road as it climbs savagely before descending. After passing a quarry on the left, look out for a turn on the right to Castle Bolton. 

5 19.4km – Turn right to Castle Bolton and continue through the village to the foot of the towering walls of the castle. This is a lovely place to stop for sustenance (you don’t need to buy a ticket for the castle to use the tearoom). Follow the road to the left, in front of the castle, signposted to Redmire, Carperby and Aysgarth, and descend to a T-junction. 

6 21.4km – Turn left, signposted to Redmire and Leyburn. Ride into Redmire and follow the road for almost 7km to reach a T-junction with the A684. 

7 28.1km – Turn right, signposted to West Witton, Aysgarth and Hawes, and then in 100m turn left by the church, signposted to Middleham, Masham and Ripon. Continue on this road for 3km, snatching glimpses of the River Ure to the right, to a T-junction.

8 31km – Turn left towards Leyburn and continue to a junction with the A684 with a petrol station on the right.

9 32.2km – Turn right at the junction, signposted to Harmby, Bedale and Northallerton, and ride out of town. Pass the Pheasant Inn on the left and immediately turn left, following the campsite sign to Lower Wensleydale. In 400m the entrance to the site is on the left. 

About the route

  • Start/finish: Lower Wensleydale Club site, Harmby, Leyburn, North Yorkshire DL8 5NU. 
  • Distance: 21 miles/34km.
  • Time: 3 hours. 
  • Level: Suitable for fit cyclists and e-bikers. The climb from Grinton towards Castle Bolton is very steep but the roads are quiet.
  • Terrain: Asphalt all the way. A road, hybrid or e-bike is ideal. 
  • Landscape: Steep dales lined with drystone walls, wild heather moorland and exquisite villages.
  • Refreshments: Bolton Castle tearoom, Castle Bolton; Bolton Arms, Redmire; Three Horse Shoes, Wensley. 

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