The 5 Best Cycle Routes In Yorkshire

Yorkshire is made for cyclists. It encompasses beautiful scenery, rolling hills and many a local pub for a chance to refuel. We’ve rounded up the Yorkshire’s best cycle routes, all of which are perfect for a day trip or even as part of a longer tour.

We’ve also enlisted the help of local hero and Cycleplan ambassador Lizzie Deignan. Having grown up in Harrogate, the Olympic silver medallist knows a thing or two about where to get your cycling kicks. From a longer ride that takes in some of the World Championships race route to a family-friendly route that Lizzie loves to take with daughter Orla, we’ve got you covered.

Muker – Askrigg Loop

Distance: 27km
Elevation: 648m
Map: Download here

This loop through the Yorkshire Dales will take your breath away – both through its beauty and steep climbs! Don’t worry, though, you’ll be rewarded with many a downhill to make up for it.

You can start anywhere along the route, but the largest villages are the loop’s eponymous Muker and Askrigg. Both have several B&Bs and hotels if you’re looking to make a night of it – and some great pubs if you’re passing through.

It’s a smooth journey (much of it is paved with tarmac) but a hilly one. On the way, you’ll encounter a piece of Hollywood history in Hardraw Force – a waterfall which featured in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and was visited by poet William Wordsworth. It’s well worth the trip!

Harrogate to Ripley

Distance: 7km
Elevation: 68m
Map: Download here

This route’s perfect for a family trip. Around 4 miles and flat the whole way, it can be completed by cyclists of all ages. Beginning in Harrogate, you’ll cycle along a well-trodden path through meadows and woodland to the historic town of Ripley.

Lizzie says: “We discovered this route during lockdown when we were looking for a safe place to cycle with Orla. Unfortunately, the ice cream shop in Ripley wasn’t open but there are plenty of places along the cycle path that are perfect for a picnic, including the ‘beach’ by the River Nidd. I would ride with Orla in her bike seat whilst my husband would run alongside us.”

Otley to Bolton Abbey

Distance: 37km
Elevation: 639m
Map: Download here

Starting in the pretty market town of Otley, this route will take you through beautiful scenery along quiet country roads. At 52km, it’s not short – it’ll take a good few hours to complete. But you’ll appreciate the square meal at the end even more!

Bolton Abbey sits in around 30,000 acres of green park land. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, or meet with friends and family once you’ve completed your ride.

“For older children or beginner cyclists, I love the route between Otley and Bolton Abbey. I have lots of childhood memories paddling in the river at Bolton Abbey and my husband and I had our wedding reception at the café in the grounds.

“The route is well known by cyclists so if you have any problems there is always somebody there to stop and help. I used to do this ride after school when I first started racing and I still do it every time I visit my parents.”

Aire Valley Towpath

Distance: 26km
Elevation: 210m
Map: Download here

This route takes you along one of the longest canals in the country. Beginning in Leeds and ending at Bingley on the outskirts of Bradford, it offers a unique view of the UK’s captivating industrial history.

This includes the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Saltaire. The Victorian model village was once owned by Sir Titus Salt, a major industrialist who was one of the first to recognise the importance of factory workers’ wellbeing. He built a range of quality housing and introduced educational and social services to the village during the 19th century.

But it’s not all factories and warehouses. You’ll pass through beautiful countryside and also take advantage of the numerous villages along the way – such as Apperley Bridge – which offer great spots to rest and refuel.

Lofthouse and Leyburn

Distance: 126km
Elevation: 1,754m
Map: Download here

The longest of our 5 suggestions, this is a tough ride that takes in some of the World Championships route. Starting just outside Harrogate and looping back past Knaresborough, Masham, Leyburn and Pateley Bridge, you’ll need to set aside the best part of a day for this one.

“This is a challenging ride. You can test yourself against the best by using Strava on the Lofthouse trapping hill sector. It is also possible to cut this ride short at various intersections over the River Nidd if you want to ride with other riders who want a shorter route.

“I love the quiet lanes along the Nidd on the way back from Leyburn and there are lots of nice café stops to choose from in Masham when you’re within about an hour from home.”  

Specialist cycling insurance from Cycleplan

Cycling in Yorkshire is an absolute joy – but could easily go wrong. Make sure you’re protected in the event of any issues with our specialist cycling insurance. Our bespoke policies will cover you for injuries and your bike and accessories will be covered against damage, theft, or loss – whether you’re out riding or at home. Get an instant online quote and see how we can help.