The North Yorks Moors Railway is a preserved steam railway running from Pickering at the southern edge of the moors to Grosmont, in the Esk valley near Whitby. Most trains are hauled by steam locomotives. Whilst not particularly fast, it is relaxing, if not unusual way to get to the start of the ride. The railway runs most school holidays and weekends, and some summer weekdays, taking roughly an hour to make the journey. See the www.nymr.demon.co.uk
for up-to-date times and fares.
The North York Moors Railway allows bikes to be carried. This lets you try a remote and challenging ride right over the top of the Moors without having to do a loop. The riding is a mixture of some road, lots of moorland singletrack and grassy bridleways. There are no really technical sections, but there’s a lot of climbing and a lot of miles, so this is not a beginner route. Due to the
length of the route and the relatively infrequent trains, this route will take the best part of a day to complete.
The route could be shortened by cutting out the last offroad section and returning via Cropton and Whelton. You could also use the ‘outbound’ leg of the Cropton forest route in reverse to remove further miles. If you wanted an easier, ‘train assisted’ route, you could also try half of the Levisham Loop.
There are no special hazards to be aware of although the remotness and length of the ride make the route suitable only for fit and experienced riders.
Park near the station in Pickering, either on street on in one of the pay and display car parks. Purchase a single ticket for Grosmont, which at the time of going to press was £12 (including bike) and board the next train to Grosmont.
After you get off the train, head for the high street. It’s a good idea to stock up on anything you might need as there is very little enroute.
From the station, head to the right along the road, past the toilets and under the railway bridge. After crossing a stone bridge you will see a gravel track sign posted as a BW on the left. Follow this easy flat route until you arrive at a minor road at the end of the BW. Turn left and go past the right turn, following signs of Glaisdale. Ignore the steeply uphill road to the left sign posted for Rosedale, and carry on past the hotel to your right. The road narrows and follows a stream before heading up a punishing 1 in 3 hill. After ¼ a mile of hard climbing you should see a wooden sign for a BW to the right.
The next few sections until Wain Hill (SE 673 021) could be skipped if you are in a hurry, although you’d be missing some interesting riding.
Follow the BW into the woods, taking care to avoid the large numbers of walkers on this popular walk. The track twists and climbs though the woods, before the surface changes from mud and gravel to a narrow series of flag stones. These are great fun to ride but can be very slippery. Eventually you will go down a steep hill to arrive at a junction with a muddy track. Turn left on the track briefly before a small path forks off to the right. Take the path to the right and cross the bridge before climbing very steeply to arrive on the road by the Arncliffe Arms pub.
Turn left and follow the road uphill. After half a mile the road suddenly steepens, at this point take the even steeper side road to the left. Follow this road along until shortly after the school warning signs, you will see a left turn into a driveway at Red House. Follow the BW down across the fields and along the boggy farm track. The track then turns right and heads downhill on some overgrown slabs. Cross the stream at the bottom and head uphill diagonally across the field to arrive at a BW sign with 3 arms. Take the right hand, level BW which runs along the edge of the fields to pass near Bank House Farm, and eventually join the road at New House Farm.
At New House Farm turn left up the hill and carry on until you reach Low Gill Beck Farm half a mile after joining the road. Turn left at the BW sign at the farm, and climb the rough track towards the woods. The track is overgrown and damp in places. After the gate which marks the edge of the moors, you’ll inevitably end up carrying your bike, as the track becomes completely overgrown with heather. Just grin and bear it, and following the slight depression marking the former course of the track, to eventually reach the road.
At the road, turn right and carry on climbing gently as you head south along the edge of the forest. After 1 ¼ miles you will see a road to the right which you can ignore. The road then dips down slightly to cross a beck. Carry on for a further half mile before you see a track, marked by metal poles, cross the road.
Take the left hand track (going due south) towards the sheds. Once past the barns and the sheep fold look for a branching of the track. Make sure you take the right hand fork heading due SSE, not the left land fork heading SE. The track starts to get rougher and faster, but beware, as you approach the wood at the bottom, the BW actually heads right over open fields and leaves the obvious track. If you incorrectly follow the track you will end up at a gate with ‘No Right Of Way’ signs. Once through the correct gate head downhill to the farm, and turn right through the farm, and then downhill to a stream where you join a tarmac road heading south.
After ¾ of a mile you will see a BW heading off uphill to the right by the edge of a coniferous forest. Turn right and take this track. After a gate the BW crosses the moor on a narrow but rideable sheep track until it reaches a road. Turn left and head south for nearly half a mile until you notice a metal BW waymark pole in the woods. The BW is very overgrown at the top in summer and you may need to take the next BW which heads downhill on a gravel track 150 yards further south. You should reach a wall. At the end of the wall the track becomes less overgrown and heads steeply down hill over boggy patch mixed with rocks. At the cross roads on the edge of the woods, take the level BW to the right. Follow this around the cottage before a fast, steep descent through the woods takes you to the road by Yatt Farm.
Turn right on the road until you reach the northern edge of the farm (the map shows the path before in was diverted around the farm). Then turn left and head downhill over some muddy fields to arrive at a ford and bridge. Cross the stream and climb the field to arrive at a gravel track. Turn left on the farm track towards Hollins Farm. Climb to the right of the farm to join a narrow flowing BW which runs along the side of the valley on what has to be one of the best single track sections in the area.
Eventually the BW descends towards a wall and crosses over a series of recently constructed culverts. After this the BW joins a gravel farm track climbing up from the valley. Turn right on the gravel track and follow this south to the road. Then carry on heading downhill on the road. Turn left at the Askew farm and head over the bridge before the road climbs again before a ‘T’ junction.
Take the right hand fork over the bridge and start to climb up the road. Before the climb starts in earnest turn right onto a BW. Following the BW along the side of the valley and ignoring any left and right hand turning BWs. The track then starts to climb towards the top of the woods. At the top of the climb, turn right on the track you have just joined, and then follow the track south along the eastern edge of the woods.
Carry on along the track as it leaves the woods to meet the end of a minor road at SE 746 860. Head south, next to the river through Sinnington, before arriving at the A 170. If time is tight and traffic is light, you can carry on left to Pickering on the main road. Otherwise, carry on south, over the main road until after 1 ¼ miles you can see a turn to the left. Take this turn and ignore any side road before you arrive on the main road on the outskirts of Pickering. Turn right on the A 170, and carry on until you reach where you parked the car in the centre of Pickering.