Leeds Cycle Loop
Christian Hacking, July 13, 2011
For Leeds cyclists and visitors to the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, there are some fantastic long distance routes to explore. Around Leeds, Bradford and Harrogate, rolling hills, valleys and reservoirs speckle the minor roads, offering ample space for recreation and challenging cycles.
The area I’m going to focus on is found between Harrogate and the Yorkshire Dale National Park, north of Otley and Pool, and south of Patley Bridge. The roads in this area offer an outstanding variety of terrain and features that are typical to the local area. For example the shorter, 30-mile loop that heads west at Fewston roams over a prolonged ridge, a reservoir crossing, a wood and a Roman road. Other notable features include an impressive wind farm and a conveniently placed pub in Beckwithshaw, The Pine Marten – a perfect place to rest before completing the final 15 miles to Leeds. The roads that connect these features offer an equal amount of variety and include steep winding climbs, exhilarating descents as well as some smooth and straight sections.
The numerous roads that intersect the area are well signposted and provided you stick within the given area you can be sure that you won’t ever be too far from home. The general format of the loops is simple: Head north towards Patley Bridge until you’ve had enough. Then take one of the many east west roads along into the next valley before joining a north south road that can take you back again.
Have a good look at Ordinance Survey Explorer maps 297 and 289 before you go (£7.99 each). Together with Google Maps you’ll orientate your way around the region like a local.
For the best routes I recommend you start by following the four reservoirs north of Otley named Lindley, Swinsty, Fewston and Truscros. You can either take the B4651 or follow the Newall Carr road along the ridge. Both are good. This will get some of the harder cycling out of the way first.
Getting out of Leeds
The traffic to Otley or Pool on the A660 is often heavy. It is best avoided using one of the many back roads that run parallel to it.
Alternatively take the train out from Leeds to Huby or other stations in the countryside north of Leeds.