As opportunity should have it I got the chance to ride out into the southern side of the North York Moors on Tuesday afternoon last week. So I picked Lastingham as my start and finish location and headed north.
Lastingham is a small village so you shouldn’t really have any issues picking up my route. The bridleway out north into the moors is an extension of High Street, you simply ride up High Street and keep going, through the gate and onward up onto Spaunton Moor.
The bridleway is wide and well surfaced but still far from being tarmac and the attitude is definitely ‘upwards’. Don’t let the initial steepness put you off as the climb mellows the further up you go. This trail continues as a gradual climb for around 2.5 km by which point you will have gained around 100-150 m in altitude and you’ll be up in among all the heather. On a cold and sunny February day you get that nice feeling of having got away from in all up here!
Along the way you will pass a right turn off that appears to also be a well surfaced track, this is the start of a bridleway marked on the OS maps and you can see where it begins and where it heads but I wouldn’t advise following this as it soon disappears among the heather making both riding and navigating difficult.
After a while there’s an information sign to your left and ahead of you are two options, bear left to go off to Ana Cross and subsequently Rosedale Abbey or like I did take the right hand track and swoop around and down enjoying the long fast decent south. Once you’ve lost almost all of the height you initially climbed and are almost back to where you started you can take a sharp left onto the road down to High Askew farm. This is a short necessary tarmac section but only as far as the farm entrance which you pass on your right before heading uphill on a muddy farm track. Very muddy in places in February during 2013 but I’m sure you won’t be riding then!
This section is a bit up, a bit down, sometimes muddy, sometimes harder and then there’s a section of rocks to pick your way through before you finally drop down to another farm (Hollins Farm). Just before you reach the farm the track is joined by one that decends steeply down from off the moor, this is an option from earlier as you swooped right and before dropping down the long fast decent. I looked for this last Tuesday but somehow missed my chance to take it. If I ride here again it’s definitely on my radar for next time.
Going from the farm, through the gate and onward down a lane you come to a pub on the left. This could be a good place for a bevvy if you intend to stop, I just munched a sandwich from my bag in homage and slurped a bit more of my electrolyte drink. Then I changed down a plethora of gears before turning left and taking on ‘The Hill’. This hill is a monster, it’s on road so watch out for the cars coming down at you, but it’s so steep in places that you just cannot miss the opportunity to take it on! Well I couldn’t, but then I do relish a good uphill challenge. Note the sign at the top that advises against riding down the hill on a bike, I think with a decent set of Hydraulic Disk brakes it’d just be fun!
After you hit the summit there’s a few other trail options, left will take you back toward Ana Cross and the trails that you’ve already ridden and right takes you into a whole new section which I haven’t explored myself (yet). As the light was rapidly dimming and the temperature on the moor dropping (a good amount below zero now) I carried on up the road back towards the car. This road will take you down into Hutton-le-Hole if you follow it all the way, from there you can turn left back towards Lastingham. The other option is a trail on your left that goes up and over a small peak and down directly into Lastingham via Camomile Farm. This track may not be public right of way as I couldn’t see any signage saying such, but then I couldn’t find anything to the contary either and it provides a nice ride back to Lastingham and the gate at the bottom fortunately wasn’t locked so I see no harm in taking it!
Once I’d returned back to the car I’d managed to clock up a healthy 20 km and it took around 2 hrs. A nice afternoon ride and another reason to not return to Dalby Forest. When there’s such good riding around the moors why pay the toll fee to ride a bumpy and fairly flat purpose built mtb trail? The 20 km took my “3000 km in 2013” challenge to 413 km for the year to date and 60 km ahead of target.