9:47 AM 15th October 2020
Yorkshire Abbeys And History
York is the historic capital of this amazing region of England and it is also one of the most historic places in the country. Located a few miles north of York, however, is the picturesque Georgian market town of Easingwold, sitting neatly on the edge of the Howardian Hills, the North Yorks Moors and the Vale of York - three quite different but spectacular areas of rural Yorkshire. This often-overlooked area is a favourite cycling place for me, with wonderful winding lanes and historic buildings around every corner, surrounded by sublime countryside. Last year I took my cycling friend, Larisa Chinces on a cycle tour of the area, when she visited from Europe. Larisa described the area as being like cycling in a constant film set.
Rievaulx Abbey - picture courtesy of pixabay.com
The area has a wealth of historic country houses such as Hovingham, the childhood home of the Duchess of Kent, Byland Abbey, Ampleforth Abbey, Rievaulx Abbey and Helmsley Castle. All these places of interest are located within relative proximity of one other and therefore could easily be enjoyed during the course of a single bike trip.
This route makes for a magnificent autumn ride: with the colours of the autumn trees all around you and the rolling meadows of the hills stretching out from the winding country lanes. It also has some challenging climbs to tackle, before you take refreshments in historic Helmsley and taste some local cakes from one of the numerous tea rooms and cafes.
It is a route of only 33 miles but has some substantial climbs which render it a tough but ultimately rewarding ride. Parking is easy in Easingwold, and there are plenty of places to eat afterwards to replenish your energy levels. This has to be one of my favourite rides and it truly is filled with history. All that you need are some good climbing legs and a liking for cake!
Stats: 53 km and 650 metre of ascent
Refreshments & Where to Stay
Easingwold has everything that you need, as does historic Helmsley. Porters Coffee Shop in Helmsley serve the very best cake and coffee. The town would be a superb holiday location, with its castle, nearby Rievaulx Abbey and an abundance of delicacies to sample in its many eateries. The roads nearby are ideal for all cyclists too.
Larisa Chinces at Newburgh Priory, visited along this route
Heading from the calm flat roads of Easingwold, the route soon climbs and takes in some tough hills, passing by historic abbeys and buildings along the way. Riding on mainly quiet roads, this is one of the best rides you will find anywhere in the UK.
1.Head out of Easingwold towards Crayke. However, at the edge of Easingwold take the road left (Oulston Road) signed towards Oulston and Coxwold.
2. Climb steeply as you approach the village of Oulston, then descending at speed, passing Newburgh Priory as the exhilarating descent eases off. At Coxwold turn right on the rolling climbs towards Ampleforth.
3. On reaching Byland Abbey, continue towards Ampleforth passing through Wass village. Continue towards Ampleforth and once through the main part of the village, then take the junction left and climb (Beacon Bank) towards Sproxton. The climb is tough, but once you summit, the descent down through the woodland lined road is straight and fast and epic. Take care, as this is a fast descent.
4. On reaching the T junction and busy road, turn left and head towards the A170 road junction. At the A170 turn right and ride to Helmsley, descending fast as you approach. Porters Coffee Shop is on the right just before the marketplace.
5. Once refreshed, ride along the A170 for half a mile. As you leave Easingwold, a junction on the right is signed towards ‘Harome’, take this road. It is a quiet road with tight and twisting descents, so take care as they can surprise you. Once through picturesque Harome, take the minor road on the right signed towards ‘Nunnington.’ After 1.5 km, turn right towards Nunnington.
6. Climb gently out of Nunnington and then steadily climb to Hovingham, the childhood home of the Duchess of Kent.
7. Hovingham is a superb place to take a coffee and a few more pictures before continuing on, with sublime meadows and woodland views as you climb steeply towards Brandsby. In particular, look out for the stone bridge in the meadow on the right, that appears to lead nowhere, but looking quite beautiful nonetheless.
8. Just before reaching Brandsby, the seemingly endless steep climbs ease off and you descend on a superb twisting road into Brandsby village. Once through Brandsby turn off right at the junction and climb easily to Crayke village.
9. At Crayke, once you reach the high point on the main village road, it bends left, but take the junction on the right signed to Easingwold. Only a few easy kilometres now remain before you can enjoy cake and coffee in Easingwold’s Georgian Market Place.
For maps and a gpx file, simply click the link here and have a wonderful ride. Easingwold and Helmsley are superb places to spend a few days exploring and both offer excellent accommodation options:
Over the colder months, I will be writing about cycling indoors too, encouraging those who don’t want to cycle outdoors during these months to at least keep cycling in readiness for the return of spring. In the meantime, stay safe and don’t forget to have fun riding!