Cycling The North: Western Dales
For this week’s cycling route, I’ve chosen the western Dales. Easily accessible from all parts of Lancashire, and from the north western reaches of Yorkshire, this 41-mile route starts in iconic Wensleydale. Base yourself in the market town of Hawes and you can stay the night in one of the superb small hotels or a bed & breakfast, making the most of a mini vacation and visiting the famous Wensleydale Creamery whilst you’re here. There’s a multitude of accommodation options alongside the route, and you can find these on the Pedalnorth website
Cycling in the western Dales is tough but rewarding, with the famous climb of Buttertubs Pass starting at Hawes. The Tour de France brought thousands of cycling fans from around the world to this isolated valley, and on weekends throughout the year you can see the ragged and worn riders, as they try to emulate the professional cyclists. There’s a great little bike shop at Hawes, with an excellent cafe; so while they tweak your bike, you can enjoy the cake. Cycling here is truly sublime and it’s a place that you can easily spend a few days, riding several routes. You can ride between the historic castles and abbeys, with Castle Bolton, Middleham Castle, Coverham Abbey and Jervaulx Abbey all on one scenic ride. It’s a super cycling vacation location, with great places to stay, all now well versed in looking after cycling tourists from all corners of the globe.
Our route today takes you from Hawes, rolling along the scenic B6255 country road to Ribblehead and its famous viaduct. From here you ride beneath the imposing peak of Ingleborough before taking refreshments at Ingleton. Ingleton is famed for the nearby caves and the waterfalls walk, and if you do decide to stay over and have a weekend trip, it’s a great place to head to on your tourist exploration day.
For now though, there’s a few hills to climb as you cycle onto Dent and quiet little Dentdale. This picture postcard village sits within one of the narrowest of Dales and has the second railway viaduct for you to see on today’s ride. Dent is also a place worth returning to for a longer trip, with this small village being famous for its beers!
Now there’s a final tough climb, as you leave Dentdale and drop to Garsdale Head and the third and final viaduct. All that’s left is a rolling ride along the sheep lined meadows of the A684 road, finally twisting across the narrow bridge at Appersett and back to Hawes for a cream tea.
Albeit only 41 miles, this is a hard route, so be prepared for steep climbs and descents. Ride within your abilities and make sure that you have tools with you for small bike fixes.
1.From Hawes follow the B6255 road that rises and falls towards Ingleton, with expansive views of the rugged western Dales
2. At Ribblehead, continue on to Chapel le Dale, passing the limestone escarpments and caves that sit below Ingleborough mountain.
3. Turn off the B6255 right into Chapel le Dale and take the minor road into Ingleton, with the limestone of Twistleton Scar to your right.
4. If you stop for refreshments at Ingleton, take the road out to Thornton in Lonsdale and ride along Kingsdale with steep climbs, then dropping into Dentdale and the picturesque village of Dent.
5. Cross the river at Dent and turn right, with the river now on your right, riding towards Dent Station in this narrowest of Yorkshire Dales.
6. At Cowgill turn left and climb to Dent Station, climbing steeply over Widdale and moorland, before dropping to Garsdale Head.
7. Join the A684 and ride along the valley back to Hawes.
Off you go then and explore the rugged and wild beauty of the western Dales, home to a wealth of history - and Wensleydale Cheese too!