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1

Leeds to Skipton

Good news: you can cycle from Leeds to Skipton on the flat, through superb scenery, without meeting a single car. This is all thanks to the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, a winding trans-Pennine waterway whose towpath is open to cyclists. There’s a direct path to the towpath from Leeds station.

From Leeds to Bingley, this is a busy cycle highway with a solid surface to haste you on your way. Beyond there it gets a bit more rural, and you’ll be cycling along a narrower earth track. For the leisure cyclist on a hybrid, this is no problem at all. On a road bike, we’d recommend you peel off along National Cycle Network route 69 into Silsden, then follow country lanes through Farnhill and Bradleys Both, which will take you to the main road into Skipton.

The towpath is also known as the Aire Valley Greenway, and is set for further improvement as part of Leeds’ Cycling City plans. The canal slowly climbs the Aire Valley through a series of locks, none more dramatic than at Bingley, where a staircase known as the ‘Five Rise’ is one of the wonders of the waterways.

Near Shipley, the canal passes Titus Salt’s ‘model village’ of Saltaire. Built as a humane community for his millworkers, its uniform architectural style has remained unspoilt. It’s no longer a dry village, though, and Fanny’s Ale House is the finest boozer en route from Leeds to Skipton.

(Note that improvement work is planned for the two-mile stretch from Rodley, so you might be temporarily diverted onto nearby roads – follow the signs.)

Hotels

Bingley

Birstwith

Bradford

from £2000Cartwright Hotel
from £68Heaton Mount
from £80Midland Hotel
from £69Midland Hotel

Bradley Near Skipton

from £102Rose Cottage

Bramley

Burnt Yates Near Harrogate

Cononley

Cowling

Embsay, Skipton

Farnhill

Farsley

Hainworth. Nr Keighley

Harrogate

from £2000Acomb Lodge
from £49Acorn Lodge
from £45Alexa House
from £55Alexa House
from £50Alvera Court
from £85April House
from £50Arden House
from £2000Arden House
from £49Ash Grove
from £80Ashwood House
from £55Baytree House
from £49Cairn Hotel
from £69Cairn Hotel
from £45Geminian
from £120Hazel Manor
from £2000Hollins House
from £50Murray House
from £2000Murray House
from £99Rudding Park
from £100Spring Grove
from £2000Spring Lodge
from £40Spring Lodge
from £2000The Bijou
from £56The Bijou
from £100The Boars Head
from £40The Camberley
from £70The Camberley
from £55The Dales
from £70The New Inn
from £2000The Welford
from £40The Welford
from £0Valley View

Harrogate, Yorkshire

Headingley

Hebden Near Grassington

from £171Mill Barn

Hetton Near Skipton

from £114Farfield House

Ilkley

Ilkley Moor West Yorkshire

Keighley

from £79Busfeild Arms
from £2000Dalesgate Hotel

Knaresborough

from £70The Mitre Inn

Leeds

from £856 Rodley Hall
from £23Art Hostel
from £32Ava Residence
from £39Ava Residence
from £42Butlers Hotel
from £89Comfort Inn
from £2000Dean House
from £69Haley's Hotel
from £2000High Bank Hotel
from £2000Hillcroft Barn
from £45Hinsley Hall
from £87KSpace Leeds
from £90Park house
from £110Quebecs
from £79Quebecs
from £2000Ruth Apartments
from £115Ruth Apartments
from £2000The Avenue Hotel
from £144The Chambers
from £144The Chambers
from £50The Met Hotel
from £48The Met Leeds
from £40The Wrens
from £107Weetwood Hall
from £70Wesley Court

Oakworth

from £101Lower Cross

Pudsey

Ripley Near Harrogate

from £107Bramble Cottage

Saltaire Nr. Shipley

from £73Salts Cottage

Shipley

Silsden

from £0The Shippon

Silsden Near Skipton

Skipton

from £0Blue Buttons
from £2000Bondcroft Farm
from £60Boutique 25
from £107Canal Cottage
from £53Hallams Yard
from £2000Highfield House
from £78Hollinwood
from £79Parkview
from £120The Coach House
from £82The Lodge
from £59The Pinfold
from £2000Throstle Nest Farm

Steeton

Sutton-in-Craven

Vale Of York

from £0Kingfisher

Yeadow Nr Leeds

2

Skipton to Aysgarth Falls

The gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, Skipton is a lovely market town recently named by the Sunday Times as the best place to live in Britain. We can see why: picturesque but down-to-earth, arty but unpretentious, posh delis rubbing shoulders with Morrisons and a bustling market.

We leave the canal towpath here and head into town. By the church, at the end of the main street (before the castle), turn left on the B6265 towards Grassington. Follow this out of town over the bypass.

This is where we join the Tour de France route proper. It’s a great choice of route by the Tour organisers, a steady climb up the very attractive valley of Wharfedale. The first few miles can be busy, especially at weekends, but the traffic thins out as you get further up.

Cracoe marks a brief encounter with the Way of the Roses and the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway; there’s a café and pub here. Continue on the B road to Threshfield.

Here, the official route takes the B6160 to Kettlewell. However, we can’t resist a scenic detour on the B6265 to Grassington, one of the jewels of the Dales and a great place to stop for coffee and cake. Take Grass Wood Lane north out of the village, passing the Toffee Shop and Grassington Lodge. This is parallel to the official route on the other side of the valley, but quieter.

Rejoin the B6160 at Kettlewell, and follow this narrow road up the valley through the tiny villages of Starbotton and Buckden, each with their own pub. This will be one of the finest places to watch the Tour come through, and campsites are duly springing up along the valley.

(If you really want to tax your legs, you can turn left at Buckden, following the sign to Hubberholme, and continue over the hill road to Hawes. Yorkshire’s highest pass, this is a superbly scenic Dales lane – but not an easy one!)

Continuing along the B6160 past the White Lion pub at Cray, we meet the first proper climb of the 2014 Tour: Kidstones Pass. The gradient suddenly lurches upwards and the bends tighten, but it’s worth it for the glorious long descent from here to the River Ure valley. Keep following the road downhill, past the Old School Bunkhouse, until you reach West Burton. Here, fork left on a road signposted Aysgarth (light vehicles only). One final short, steep climb – we won’t mind if you get off and push – takes you up to the A684 road. (The Tour cyclists will be going to Aysgarth via Thoralby, but we thought we’d save you a bit of climbing.)

Hotels

Askrigg

Askrigg

from £100Stoney End
from £70Sykes House
from £56Sykes House

Aysgarth

from £60Cornlee

Aysgarth Falls

Aysgarth Leyburn

Bainbridge

from £218Wharton House

Bainbridge

from £2000Hazels Roost

Bainbridge Near Hawes

Bradley Near Skipton

from £102Rose Cottage

Buckden

from £130Dale View
from £66Tack Room

Buckden Grassington

Buckden

from £162The Old Chapel

Carperby

from £123The Granary

Carperby Near Leyburn

Conistone

Conistone Grassington

from £114Greystones

Conistone With Kilnsey Grassington

from £111Tophams Laithe

Cononley

Cowling

Embsay, Skipton

Farnhill

Grassington

from £60Garside
from £141Oakbank
from £66Polly'S Fold
from £85Scar Croft
from £117Westgarth

Grinton

from £0Deer Park

Gunnerside

Gunnerside

Gunnerside Nr. Hawes

Hawkswick

from £2000Warren House B&B

Hawkswick, Near Grassington

from £68Warren House

Hebden

from £379Dipper Fold

Hebden Near Grassington

from £76Ashfield
from £171Mill Barn
from £101Whisper Cottage

Hetton Near Skipton

from £114Farfield House

Keighley

from £2000Dalesgate Hotel

Kettlewell

Kettlewell

from £113Calton Cottage
from £110Fell View
from £130Heathlands

Kettlewell Near Grassington

Kilnsey

from £75The Chapel

Kilnsey Near Grassington

from £306Sikes Laithe

Leyburn

from £2000Fox & Hounds Inn
from £0High Blean
from £2000Riverside B & B
from £100Stoney End
from £110Stow House

Linton Falls Near Grassington

from £132Wharfedene

Low Row Near Reeth

from £84Cowlings

North Yorkshire

Redmire

from £55Bolton Arms

Redmire Near Leyburn

Reeth

from £2000The Buck Hotel
from £78The Loft

Reeth Near Richmond

Richmond

Riverside Hawkswick

from £0Riverdale

Silsden

from £0The Shippon

Silsden Near Skipton

Skipton

from £2000Ashfield House
from £0Blue Buttons
from £2000Bondcroft Farm
from £60Boutique 25
from £2000Bridge House
from £107Canal Cottage
from £53Hallams Yard
from £2000Highfield House
from £78Hollinwood
from £2000Lychgate House
from £79Parkview
from £120The Coach House
from £82The Lodge
from £59The Pinfold
from £2000Throstle Nest Farm

Starbotton Near Kettlewell

Steeton

Strands

Sutton-in-Craven

Threshfield

from £118Grisedale Barn

Threshfield

from £70Bridge House

Threshfield Near Grassington

from £125Lane House

Upper Wensleydale

West Burton

West Burton

from £87Coach House
from £71The Nunnery

West Burton Wensleydale

West Burton Near Leyburn

from £0Craven House

Near Reeth

3

Aysgarth Falls to Muker

The official Tour route goes up Wensleydale on the busy A684. We choose to follow a quiet minor road on the other side of the River Ure; there’s less traffic, more to see, and a couple of cafés on the way.

First, though, we follow the A684 for a few hundred yards uphill to Aysgarth Falls village. Turn right to the falls themselves, down an exceptionally steep descent (25%). Even though it means losing your momentum, you’ll want to stop at the bridge at the bottom to see the water tumbling down the river. There’s a footpath immediately afterwards should you want a closer look, and tea-rooms both here and at the visitor centre.

Climbing back up from the river, you’ll see the Wensleydale Railway station – but no railway! This heritage railway project aims to reconnect the East Coast with the Settle & Carlisle railway, but as yet the trackbed here remains untouched.

Turn left at Carperby, then follow the valley road with signs to Askrigg and Hardraw. Askrigg has several friendly tea-rooms – look out for the old Cyclists’ Touring Club above one of them. Ignore the first sign for Hawes, which will take you back on to the A684, but continue up the valley until you’ve passed the Sedbusk turn. From here, you can turn left over the river to visit Hawes.

Turn right up the Buttertubs Pass, signposted to Muker. This is back on the Tour route for the second climb of the day – and, arguably, the highlight of the first Tour stage. A wide, well-surfaced road all the way over to Swaledale, it begins fairly gently but soon gets steeper. There are superb views from the High Abbotside vantage point: we envy whoever grabs this spot to watch the climbers battling their way up!

But the sharp descent will be as much a draw as the climb. The valley falls away on the right, separated by only a flimsy barrier. Watch out for the sharp bend halfway down. It ends at a T-junction, where you turn right on the B6270. You can recover your nerves at the pub in Thwaite, or continue along to postcard-perfect Muker with its tea-rooms, pub and church on the hill.

Hotels

Appersett

from £72Dales Cottage

Askrigg

Askrigg

from £755Hill Top Farm
from £86Lukes Barn
from £100Stoney End
from £70Sykes House
from £56Sykes House

Askrigg Nr Hawes

from £420Ingleby Lodge

Aysgarth

from £60Cornlee

Aysgarth Falls

Aysgarth Leyburn

Bainbridge

from £218Wharton House

Bainbridge

from £2000Hazels Roost

Bainbridge Near Hawes

Buckden

from £162The Old Chapel

Carperby

from £123The Granary

Carperby Near Leyburn

Countersett Near Hawes

Gayle

from £170The Old Hall
from £88Yarn House

Gayle Near Hawes

Grinton

from £0Deer Park

Gunnerside

Gunnerside

Gunnerside Nr. Hawes

Hardraw Near Hawes

Hawes

from £0Bumble Barn
from £0Ebor House
from £55Southview
from £155The Barn House
from £2000The Board Inn
from £80The Board Inn
from £115The Farmhouse
from £0YHA Hawes

Langthwaite Near Reeth

from £75Stoneleigh

Langthwaite Nr Reeth Swaledale

from £0Copley House

Leyburn

from £2000Fox & Hounds Inn
from £0High Blean
from £2000Riverside B & B
from £100Stoney End
from £110Stow House

Longshaw Near Hawes

Low Row Near Reeth

from £84Cowlings

Marsett

from £83Fell Cottage

Muker Near Reeth

from £120Brookside
from £67Lilac Cottage
from £82Stoneleigh

North Yorkshire

Redmire

from £55Bolton Arms

Redmire Near Leyburn

Reeth

from £2000The Buck Hotel
from £78The Loft

Reeth Near Richmond

Richmond

Sedbusk

from £97Dales View
from £81Lilac Cottage

Sedbusk Near Hawes

Simonstone Near Hawes

from £178Fossdale House
from £142Swallowdale

Skipton

Strands

Thwaite Near Hawes

from £66Meadow View

Upper Wensleydale

West Burton

West Burton

from £87Coach House
from £71The Nunnery

West Burton Wensleydale

West Burton Near Leyburn

from £0Craven House

Near Askrigg

Near Reeth

4

Muker to Leyburn

The superbly chosen Tour route continues on this little B-road along Swaledale, perhaps the most picturesque of the Yorkshire Dales. It’s a far cry from the wide, straight roads that often characterise the Tour’s passage through France, and is sure to make for exciting racing.

For those of us taking a more relaxed pace, it’s even more enjoyable. The road continues gently downhill beside the Swale, often passing very close to the riverbank. There’s even a dose of whimsy to match this sublime landscape, in the shape of a village called Crackpot.

Follow the B-road all the way, ignoring separate signs for the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway. There’s a small climb on the way into Reeth, a hilly village where shops and cafés are clustered around the village green. (The Dales Bike Centre is on the way in if your bike needs attention.)

Take the chance to refuel in Reeth, because there’s another big climb imminent – Whipperdale Bank, aka Grinton Moor. Follow the B6270 out of Reeth, then carry straight on in Grinton when the B-road swings left. The climb begins immediately with the steepest gradient of the day. Then bear left towards Leyburn, rather than taking the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway to the right.

Grinton Moor is a military area, and red flags fly when shooting’s underway. There’s even a faded ‘Learner Tank Drivers Under Instruction’ sign by the side of the road. This means the raw beauty of the moor is largely unspoilt, and you’ll have plenty of time to appreciate it during the long climb. Do turn back now and then to see the great views. There’s a brief switchback as the route crosses a moorland stream; watch for oncoming traffic, as the bridge is very narrow.

It’s a long, slow descent with occasional ups from here to Leyburn, crossing the busy road to Catterick on the way. The entrance to Leyburn isn’t too attractive, but the town itself is a busy little place with interesting old architecture.

Hotels

Appersett

from £72Dales Cottage

Askrigg

Askrigg

from £755Hill Top Farm
from £86Lukes Barn
from £100Stoney End
from £56Sykes House
from £70Sykes House

Askrigg Nr Hawes

from £420Ingleby Lodge

Aysgarth

from £60Cornlee

Aysgarth Falls

Aysgarth Leyburn

Bainbridge

from £218Wharton House

Bainbridge

from £2000Hazels Roost

Bainbridge Near Hawes

Bellerby

Bellerby Wensleydale

from £78Holly Cottage

Bellerby Near Leyburn

from £71Vine Barn

Carperby

from £62Yorebarn

Carperby

from £123The Granary

Carperby Near Leyburn

Constable Burton Near Leyburn

from £92The Palins

Countersett Near Hawes

Gayle

from £170The Old Hall
from £88Yarn House

Gayle Near Hawes

Grinton

from £0Deer Park

Gunnerside

Gunnerside

Gunnerside Nr. Hawes

Hardraw Near Hawes

Harmby Near Leyburn

from £63Barn Cottage

Hawes

from £0Bumble Barn
from £0Ebor House
from £55Southview
from £155The Barn House
from £80The Board Inn
from £2000The Board Inn
from £115The Farmhouse
from £0YHA Hawes

Langthwaite Near Reeth

from £75Stoneleigh

Langthwaite Nr Reeth Swaledale

from £0Copley House

Leyburn

from £99Beckside
from £65Curlew Barn
from £75Dales Haven
from £73Farend
from £2000Fox & Hounds Inn
from £55Grove House
from £0High Blean
from £109Penn Hill View
from £2000Riverside B & B
from £100Stoney End
from £110Stow House
from £94The Blue Lion
from £94The Blue Lion
from £2000The Wyvill Arms
from £50Westfields Farm

Leyburn North Yorkshire

Longshaw Near Hawes

Low Row Near Reeth

from £84Cowlings

Marrick

Marrick

Marrick Near Richmond

from £0Barn End

Marsett

from £83Fell Cottage

Middleham

Middleham

from £2000Black Swan Inn
from £106Dove Cottage
from £107Foxtor House
from £115The Priory

Middleham Near Leyburn

Middleham Nr Leyburn

Muker Near Reeth

from £120Brookside
from £67Lilac Cottage
from £82Stoneleigh

North Yorkshire

Redmire

from £55Bolton Arms

Redmire Near Leyburn

Reeth

from £2000The Buck Hotel
from £78The Loft

Reeth Near Richmond

Richmond

Sedbusk

from £97Dales View
from £81Lilac Cottage

Sedbusk Near Hawes

Simonstone Near Hawes

from £178Fossdale House
from £142Swallowdale

Strands

Thornton Steward

from £142Myton House

Thwaite Near Hawes

from £66Meadow View

Upper Wensleydale

West Burton

West Burton

from £87Coach House
from £71The Nunnery

West Burton Wensleydale

West Burton Near Leyburn

from £0Craven House

Yorkshire Dales

from £101Sun Hill Lodges

Near Askrigg

Near Middleham Leyburn

from £83Curlew Barn

Near Reeth

5

Leyburn to Harrogate

From here, the Tour riders will follow A roads all the way to Harrogate. This isn’t our idea of a good time, so we suggest here a quieter alternative on minor roads and cycleways. Happily, it’s not just quiet, but attractive too – and the terrain is much less taxing than the Dales. Harrogate is the stage finish and also the first railway station, but if you can arrange alternative transport, you might choose to finish at Masham or Ripon instead.

From Leyburn town centre, take the A684 signposted to Bedale. This is a busy road but tolerable: continue through Harmby, then take the next sharp right onto a quiet lane. Turn right at the end of the lane and follow the road, signposted with stickers as NCN route 71. When it bears left for Finghall, turn right towards Newton-le-Willows instead. Passing several junctions, ignore the left turn to Newton, then turn right at a group of cottages, signposted Thirn. Navigation is easy from here: turn right at the end of the lane, then head due south on the road to Masham. There are lovely views from the tree-lined lane over the Ure valley.

Masham is nationally known for its beer. The Theakston brewery was established here, but when the rest of the family sold out to Big Business, Paul Theakston struck out on his own and established the aptly-named Black Sheep Brewery. Now, the original Theakstons is back in independent hands, and both thrive in this tiny town with a vast market place – and several pubs where it would seem disrespectful to drink anything else.

The road south from the Market Square from here to Grewelthorpe is uninspiring but direct; if you have time, you can follow the National Byway signposts via Low Swinton. Turn right by the Crown Inn in Grewelthorpe, and continue on a much nicer road to pretty Kirkby Malzeard. At the crossroads by the Queen’s Head, take the National Byway south towards Grantley and Galphay.

Here, you can choose between two routes. Ripon is a landmark on the Tour stage, justly prized for its old streets and soaring cathedral. It has much of the character of York, but without the crush of tourists. After Kirkby Malzeard, turn left through Galphay, then follow the undulating minor road towards the city (the last mile on a B-road). Then, on leaving Ripon, follow the Way of the Roses route westbound (NCN route 688), with its glorious stretch through the grounds of Fountains Abbey – all credit to the National Trust for welcoming cyclists. All of this is a bit of a diversion, but we think Ripon and Fountains Abbey are more than worth it.

Alternatively, for a more direct route on country lanes avoiding Ripon, continue south through Winksley, passing Aldfield, to Fountains Abbey. This route is signposted as part of the National Byway.

Follow the Way of the Roses south from Fountains Abbey, but when you come to a T-junction, leave the route to turn left to Ripley. A straight minor road deposits you on the B6165 just before Ripley. Then, from the village, it’s plain sailing to Harrogate on the newly opened NCN route 67, a traffic-free railway path of which the highlight is the Nidd Viaduct – one of many reasons for those who appreciate industrial heritage to support the work of Sustrans.

For now, NCN 67 ends rather ignominiously by an Asda supermarket in Harrogate. But you can easily thread your way through back-streets to the characterful town centre. Yorkshire’s answer to Cheltenham or Bath, Harrogate is an upwardly-mobile spa town famous for Betty’s Tea Rooms – surely the plushest in the county – and with a selection of designer shops. It’s not too hoity-toity to welcome almost 200 sweaty Tour de France cyclists, though; and we reckon that if you tell the hoteliers and restauranteurs that you’ve followed the same route round Yorkshire, they’ll welcome you with open arms.

Hotels

Arrathorne Near Leyburn

Bedale

from £142High Parks

Bellerby

Bellerby Wensleydale

from £78Holly Cottage

Bellerby Near Leyburn

from £71Vine Barn

Birstwith

Bishop Monkton

Bishop Monkton

Bishop Monkton Nr. Ripon

from £143The Barn
from £125The Granary

Bishop Thornton Near Harrogate

from £101The Old Hayloft

Burnt Yates Near Harrogate

Carperby

from £62Yorebarn

Charlcot

from £75Oak Lodge
from £75Rowan Lodge

Constable Burton Near Leyburn

from £92The Palins

Dallowgill

from £80Crag House

Finghall

from £2000The Queen s Head

Grewelthorpe

from £2000The Crown Inn

Harmby Near Leyburn

from £63Barn Cottage

Harrogate

from £2000Acomb Lodge
from £49Acorn Lodge
from £45Alexa House
from £55Alexa House
from £50Alvera Court
from £85April House
from £2000Arden House
from £50Arden House
from £49Ash Grove
from £80Ashwood House
from £55Baytree House
from £49Cairn Hotel
from £69Cairn Hotel
from £60Chequers Inn
from £58Chequers Inn
from £45Geminian
from £120Hazel Manor
from £2000Hollins House
from £2000Murray House
from £50Murray House
from £99Rudding Park
from £100Spring Grove
from £2000Spring Lodge
from £40Spring Lodge
from £2000The Bijou
from £56The Bijou
from £100The Boars Head
from £40The Camberley
from £70The Camberley
from £55The Dales
from £70The New Inn
from £2000The Welford
from £40The Welford
from £0Valley View

Harrogate, Yorkshire

Hunton

Kirkby Malzeard

Kirkby Malzeard Nr. Ripon

Knaresborough

from £70The Mitre Inn

Laverton

from £130The Bothy

Leyburn

from £99Beckside
from £65Curlew Barn
from £75Dales Haven
from £73Farend
from £55Grove House
from £109Penn Hill View
from £70Queens Head
from £94The Blue Lion
from £94The Blue Lion
from £2000The Wyvill Arms
from £50Westfields Farm

Leyburn North Yorkshire

Marrick

Marrick

Marrick Near Richmond

from £0Barn End

Masham

from £70Bank Villa
from £50Brewers Den
from £62Millgate B&B

Masham, Ripon

from £110Swinton Park

Masham, Ripon, North Yorkshire

Middleham

Middleham

from £2000Black Swan Inn
from £106Dove Cottage
from £107Foxtor House
from £115The Priory

Middleham Near Leyburn

Middleham Nr Leyburn

North Yorkshire

Nr Ripon

from £2000The Moorhouse

Nr. Bedale

from £84The Brewhouse

Patrick Brompton Near Leyburn

from £77Wren Cottage

Redmire Near Leyburn

Richmond

Ripley Near Harrogate

from £107Bramble Cottage

Ripon

from £175Baytree Cottage
from £102Bede Cottage
from £130Oak Tree House
from £119Swinton Park
from £0The Moorhouse
from £55The Ship
from £2000The White Horse

Risplith

Silsden

from £0The Shippon

Thornton Steward

from £142Myton House

Thornton Watlass Near Masham

Vale Of York

from £0Kingfisher

Winksley Banks

from £126The Old Barn

Wormald Green

Yorkshire Dales

from £75Lindale Park
from £101Sun Hill Lodges

Near Masham

from £72The Calf Pens

Near Middleham Leyburn

from £83Curlew Barn