It can be difficult to know where to start with the vastness of the Yorkshire Dales and Lancashire Fells. From the famous climbs of the recent Tour de France Grand Departs to the quiet secluded lanes of the Western edges of the National Park, there is a lot of road to cover and a number of ways to approach it.
So to make it easier, we've put together a challenging 85km route that will test the best of riders but reward you with stunning views, great cake and virtually empty roads - some of our favourite aspects of riding a bike! Like all our Ride Notes, we've tried to add some roads that you might normally over look on the way to somewhere else. And yes, this time, that includes the brilliantly named Silly Lane.
We've started you off in the sleepy Lancashire village of Wray (home to an impressive annual scarecrow festival each May) at the excellent Bridge House Farm Tea Rooms (which has good parking) and with an immediate apology for the 20% slope you climb cold to get above Wray and out toward Tatham Fell. It's only short, if that helps.
From Wray you are almost immediately immersed in the beautiful serenity of the Northern reaches of the Forest of Bowland climbing up toward views to die for stretching over Tatham and Lowgill Fells. Further to the West you get your first sight of the mighty Ingleborough, a constant reference point for rides in this part of the Dales.
After a fast descent from Lowgill, the route winds through the back roads into High Bentham and then on toward Ingleton and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. The brief horrors of climbing Thornton Lane are rewarded with a full view of Ingleborough from alongside its distinctive jagged peak and the beautiful open Kingsdale Valley beyond.
For 7 or 8km you will roll up the valley between Gragareth and Whernside (the highest of the infamous 3 Peaks) until you eventually reach one of (in our humble view) the best views in the UK: looking down on the Dentdale Valley in all its glory.
The vast empty skies meeting the flowing Dales and creating a patchwork of colours (we know!), a real sensory overload. You need to regain focus fast though as the descent down the aptly named Deepdale is very steep, twisty and intermittently punctuated with (usually closed) gates. To add to the fun, it's not a particularly "Mallorcan" style surface either.
After reaching the base of this imposing hill, the ride rolls through the Dentdale Valley through Dent itself and on toward Sedbergh, set at the foot of the mighty Cumbrian Howgill Fells.
Sedbergh offers the opportunity for a much needed coffee stop and some delicious freshly baked cake(s) from the excellent Three Hares Cafe on the High Street.
Following your refuel in Cumbria, the ride heads back toward Lancashire on quiet lanes beside the River Lune through the gorgeous Rigmaden Park and into the bustling market town of Kirkby Lonsdale.
As you leave Kirkby Lonsdale there's a moment on a main road (worthy of note because it's pretty much the only one in 85km) before rejoining the picturesque River Lune on the road that runs along its Eastern bank. The road is fast from here until Tunstall where we return to the back roads, in fact, Back Lane and then the enticingly named Spout Lane.
A few sharp little digs later and you'll roll back into Wray and back to the Bridge House where you can grab a proper feed or a coffee for the road. J34 of the M6 is just a few minutes down the A683.
The route we rode can be downloaded here from Strava: https://www.strava.com/routes/8776648/export and can be studied in forensic detail here on VeloViewer: http://veloviewer.com/routes/8776648
As always, if you'd like some help organising a holiday here, or a longer route for your group or even just a day's support car for a large group ride - let us know. We're be happy to help.