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Cyclists in Dalby Forest by Tony Bartholomew

Dalby Forest Loop

Get a real feel for two very different landscapes in the National Park on a roller-coaster of a route that starts high on the moors at Saltergate. First up is Dalby Forest, as you head along shady forest roads and tracks, down towards the visitor centre in the heart of the forest. Then it’s a steep climb out of the valley, up and down through the traditional villages of Lockton and Levisham, before finishing with a thrilling ride across Levisham Moor, enjoying views across the vast natural amphitheatre known as the Hole of Horcum. It’s a cracker of a route, showcasing some of the best bits of the National Park in an exciting half-day adventure.

Cycle route info

Route type:
Explorer route
14½ miles (23km)
2 to 2½ hours
Start point:
Saltergate car park
Cycle hire
Grid Ref:
SE 852 936
OS Map:
Ordnance Survey OL27
Two cafés in Dalby Forest, pub at Levisham, seasonal tea room in Lockton, and often an ice-cream van at Saltergate car park.

About this cycle route

Explorer route, for mountain bikes and hybrids.

The route mostly follows good stone tracks and tarmac, with a sweeping grass/stone moorland section to finish. You should be prepared to walk up the short, steep roads to Lockton and Levisham, but otherwise it’s a ride for beginners, families and explorers alike.

Note – it’s pay and display parking at the start-point of Saltergate, while access to Dalby Forest by vehicle is by toll road (though cycling into the forest is free).

Hiring a bike? There's bike hire in Dalby Forest Courtyard, or hire a bike from Dalby Bike Barn in nearby Thornton le Dale instead.

Route highlights!

*Look around the Forestry Commission Visitor Centre in Dalby Forest
*A rest on the grass in the quiet villages of Lockton and Levisham
*Dragonfly-spotting at Dundale Pond
*Take a selfie with the Hole of Horcum as your backdrop

Levisham Moor

While it’s tempting to zip along the moorland track, with the end of the route in sight, take a break to enjoy the sights and sounds of a moor that’s rich in wildlife.

Dundale Pond is a good place to rest – the old watering hole for a medieval sheep farm is a magnificent place for summer dragonflies and butterflies. In spring, watch out for lapwings making their darting, twisting mating flights, while the moors’ signature bird species – native to Britain – is the red grouse, whose warning cluck can be heard as it flies fast and low above the heather.