Review: Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales

THE Grand Depart of the Tour de France in 2014 was a phenomenal success for Yorkshire with 2.5 million spectators lining the route for the first two days when it passed through the Dales, a UK TV audience of 16.6 million and a global TV audience of a staggering 3.5 billion people. The Yorkshire Dales were shown in all their splendour which has resulted in an increase in tourism to the area. Tourists spent £1.9bn in Yorkshire in the year to March 2015, 7.5 per cent up on the year before and this has increased ever since due to the introduction also of the annual Tour de Yorkshire cycle race.

No wonder cycling in Yorkshire has taken off so spectacularly in the last five years and not a single weekend goes by without us seeing scores of Lycra clad riders passing through Otley and Ilkley on their way to the Yorkshire Dales to either follow parts of the Tour de France route or others of their own choosing. Ilkley Cycle Club now has over 2,000 members whilst Otley Cycle Club membership is over 500 and increasing annually.

Now Cicerone books have issued a brand new publication aimed at these riders from our local towns, and the rest of the UK, covering 24 circular routes in the Dales plus also a six day tour of the region. The book has eight towns or villages used as starting points – Pateley Bridge, Grassington, Ingleton, Settle, Reeth, Sedbergh, Hawes and Leyburn plus also the route of the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France from Leeds to Harrogate, a distance of 129 miles rather than the direct route on the A61 of 16 miles! Each of these starting points has a minimum of two routes from there, with three of the starting points having three and Grassington and Leyburn having four. Distances range from 12 miles to 54 miles although some of these shorter rides are classed as Short Challenging which will test most riders. The rides are classified as Short, Medium or Long and categorised as Moderate, Hard or Challenging!

The final chapter is entitled La Vuelta a Dales and is a six day tour starting and finishing in Settle with a total distance of 170 miles (272 kilometres) and 12,050 feet (4350 metres) of climbing throughout. Overnight stays are in Pateley Bridge, Leyburn, Hawes, Muker and Sedbergh.

There are 14 sub-sections in the introduction – Geology, Human habitation, Wildlife, Getting there, Money, When to go, Accommodation, Food and drink, What to wear, What to take, Choosing your bike, Maps, Emergencies and Using this guide. There are also five appendices at the end of the book – Route summary table, Useful contacts, Campsites along the Vuelta a Dales, Cycles on public transport and Basic bike maintenance.

The book has useful route maps for each of the rides as well as a detailed description of the route and is punctuated throughout with various photographs of scenes, buildings and villages encountered throughout the twenty four rides.

Retailing at £14.95 the book is available to order from Cicerone’s website at

by John Burland