Road routes

Road bike, hybrid – or even tandem! If the open road floats your boat, check out our circular road routes through some of the National Park’s most outstanding scenery. Stunning views, big horizons and undulating rides show you the best of the North York Moors and the neighbouring Howardian Hills National Landscape.

Looking for something more challenging? The 171-mile North York Moors Cycleway guides cyclists in a figure of eight loop using quieter roads and past many of the landscape’s highlights.

We give you the basic route on a downloadable map – the rest is up to you!

Over the River Rye
  • 15.4 miles (40.8kms)  Moderate

Start in the market town of Malton and explore the environs of the River Rye on a leisurely spin around a gently undulating and very pleasant part of the Vale of Pickering. There are nice perspectives of the North York Moors, Yorkshire Wolds and Howardian Hills, plus several tempting village pubs en  route. Flamingo Land theme park is at Kirby Misperton, while Eden Camp (the World War II museum housed in a former POW camp) is just off the route near Malton. It's a largely flat, easygoing route on country roads, apart from one partially potholed track on the outskirts of Malton.

Leavening Brow & Kirkham Gorge
  • 18.7 miles (30kms) Moderate

Leaving Malton and Norton, the climb up the western escarpment of the Wolds to Leavening Brow is rewarded with a superb view across the Howardian Hills to the North York Moors and the distant Pennines. Cyclists can then enjoy the initially steep and undulating descent – via tucked-away village pubs  – into Kirkham Gorge, where the remains of Kirkham Priory (English Heritage) sit peacefully beside the River Derwent.

Be prepared for ascents and descents as you negotiate the western edge of the Yorkshire Wolds and the section down in the Derwent valley. In particular, it's a long climb up to Leavening Brow (lowest gears after Birdsall estate village), and then an initially steep and winding descent west towards the  River Derwent.

Spaunton Manor Circuit
  • 7.6 miles (12.2kms) Easy

A road ride that takes you across the ancient lands of Spaunton Manor, encompassing the villages of Hutton le Hole, Lastingham, Spaunton and Appleton le Moors. Follow quiet country lanes to explore settlements with a unique charm – both Lastingham and Appleton have an historic tale to tell, not  to mention a welcome pub. At Spaunton you're rewarded with a great view at Victoria Cross before you zip down Spaunton Bank and across the moor edge back to Hutton le Hole.

Castle Howard & Nunnington Hall
  • 22.8 miles (36.7kms) Moderate

Rising and falling through parklands, woodlands and picturesque villages, this is a true Howardian Hills ride, with several marvellous views such as the one from the tiny turf maze near Dalby. There are tempting tearoom stops at Nunnington Hall manor house (National Trust), at Hovingham (by the ford)  and in Terrington at the Yorkshire Lavender Farm and Terrington Village Stores Tearoom. There's free parking at majestic Castle Howard (both at the main house and at the Arboretum visitor centre opposite). The route is a fantastic introduction to the Howardian Hills National Landscape, which covers 79  square miles of rolling countryside between the North York Moors National Park, the Yorkshire Wolds and the Vale of York.

Esk Valley West and Westerdale
  • 18.7 miles (30kms) Difficult

The western road circuit out of Danby Lodge National Park Centre follows minor valley and moorland roads, and combines a run along the upper Esk Valley with a sweeping ride across the high moorland above Commondale and Westerdale. It's a reasonably challenging route, with some steep ascents and descents,  following minor country roads and lanes. It passes through several characteristic moorland villages and gives riders both a taste of the heather-clad moors and of the wide, flat, farmed valley bottoms.

Esk Valley East and Egton Bridge
  • 21.4 miles (34.4kms) Moderate

The villages on the first half of the route, in particular – Lealholm, Egton and Egton Bridge – are some of the most charming in the whole valley, with stepping stones, sleepy greens and traditional pubs. Give yourself time to appreciate this most cherished area of the North York Moors, where people  have shaped the landscape for thousands of years, whether clearing the scrub for riverside pastures, managing the woodlands or building ancient packhorse bridges and stone trods. The second half of the route returns over high moorland, climbing away from the gentler reaches of the valley, before sweeping  back along the river flats towards Danby.

Bransdale Loop
  • 27.3 miles (43.9kms) Moderate

The ‘lost dale’ of Bransdale – north of Kirkbymoorside and Helmsley – is a gem, smaller and more remote than the dales on either side, only accessible on a single road that loops around the flanking moors via the dalehead at Cockayne. There is no village in the dale – just a necklace of farmhouses set  halfway up the dale sides, a shooting lodge and an old mill – while most of the farmland is owned by the National Trust. Consequently, Bransdale retains a serene, traditional character, with little to get in the way of the fabulous cycling. However, the final southern section – cutting through the villages  south of the A170 – rewards you with a string of caf├ęs and country pubs as you follow the quieter back roads from Helmsley to Kirkbymoorside.

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