Moors Mountain Bike Routes

Sheep on the North Yorkshire Moors

Ah, moorland! Vast swathes of the UK are open moorland and the majority of it is open for business for mountain bikes. Bridleways criss-cross the moors of North Yorkshire and Northumberland, for example, and the high moors of the Lake District offer great possibilities.

This is the bread and butter of UK mountain biking. Whether it be moorland singltrack, fire roads or even gnarly descents you are after, some of the best routes you will find will be on moorland

All Moors Routes

Masham & Nidderdale

Distance: 
22mi / 35km
Ascent: 
707m / 2,319ft
Offroad: 
63%
Difficulty: 
73%

This scenic route takes in Masham, Nidderdale and most of the surrounding moors. The route starts in Masham, home of the Black Sheep Brewery and crosses several moors to the head of the Nidderdale valley. From there it takes you northerly to Steel House Moor where a descent of Steel House Gill and a short road section deposits you back at the start.

Navigation is fairly easy for the most apart from one point, but you just need to keep your eyes open at this point and you should be fine.

Bransdale & Rudland Rigg

Distance: 
9mi / 15km
Ascent: 
323m / 1,059ft
Offroad: 
51%
Difficulty: 
48%

This easy route in the North York Moors is ideal if you have only a little time, or if you're bringing the family along and are looking for something they can handle. At only 15km (9mi) and with not a great deal of climbing involved, this compact ride should fit into a single morning or afternoon.

The route starts just north of Gillamoor and basically crosses Shaw Ridge by means of road and then returns via the track across the top of Rudland Rigg.

Askham Fell & Ullswater

Ullswater Mountain Biking
Distance: 
15mi / 23km
Ascent: 
481m / 1,578ft
Offroad: 
57%
Difficulty: 
59%

This is a fantastic route starting at Pooley Bridge in the Lake District. Despite relatively little climbing (for the Lake District!), this route delivers amazing scenery and one of the best natural descents in the country, from The Cockpit stone circle to Howtown, offering breathtaking views across Ullswater for its entirety.

The climb from Pooley Bridge onto Askham Fell is the toughest of the two climbs and is followed by a crossing of Moor Divock and a nice descent to the south through open moorland. A brief road section leads to Askham and the start of the second climb back on to Askham Fell, forming a figure-of-eight as you drop down onto the main descent from here to Howtown on some combination of loose rocks and singletrack all the way. Oh, and did I mention the incredible views?!

Tan Hill & Swaledale

Distance: 
21mi / 34km
Ascent: 
1,076m / 3,530ft
Offroad: 
84%
Difficulty: 
83%

This is a tough route deep in the Yorkshire Dales wilderness so don't expect it to be easy, good navigational skills are required. That said, if you go prepared and know what you're doing you'll find this route is an amazing way to explore the northern part of the Yorkshire Dales. The fact that it ends at the Tan Hill Inn just makes it all that more perfect.

As mentioned, the route starts at the famous Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in England. From here it takes you across the moors on clearly defined doubletrack. This doesn't last long though, the trail becomes less clear as you head out into the wilderness. After crossing the moor, the route drops you into Gunnerside Gill and on into Swaledale, before climbing back onto the moor for a final crossing on the return leg to Tan Hill.

Esk Dale Railway

Distance: 
22mi / 35km
Ascent: 
768m / 2,519ft
Offroad: 
39%
Difficulty: 
72%

This route in the North Yorkshire Moors follows the valley of Esk Dale. It is a fairly strenuous route but is technically quite easy and therefore ok for less advanced riders, so long as you have a fair fitness level. It is a one-way route rather than the usual loop and uses the Esk Valley Railway to return to the start. For this reason be prepared and make sure you are aware of the train timetable.

It is best ridden west to east, starting in Kildale and ending in Sleights. You will pass through Commondale, Castleton, Danby, Lealholm, Glaisdale, Egton Bridge and Grosmont along the way. Each of these places have shops and pubs making refreshments available pretty much anywhere on the route. You could even turn it into a giant pub crawl!

Hole of Horcum & Cropton Forest

Distance: 
17mi / 27km
Ascent: 
724m / 2,375ft
Offroad: 
74%
Difficulty: 
70%

This is a relatively easy route in the North Yorkshire Moors that takes in the impressive Hole of Horcum as well as Cropton Forest. You will find yourself at times crossing open moorland and at times passing through deep forest on a variety of terrains.

Most intermediate mountain bikers should have no problem with this route as there are no really difficult technical sections to overcome. Just nice clean fun mountain biking. Well, perhaps not clean, this is the moors afterall! Enjoy.

Chop Gate & Urra Moor

Distance: 
12mi / 19km
Ascent: 
592m / 1,942ft
Offroad: 
65%
Difficulty: 
60%

This route at the north part of the North York Moors takes in some breathtaking views across the Tees Valley. The terrain is almost mountainous in feel, and this particular route serves up a nice mix of moorland singletrack and rocky descents. Something for all to enjoy! And all this without being too strenuous for those of you who haven't quite got the fitness levels as high as they could be yet.

The route starts just below Clay Bank and gets all the climbing out of the way from the off. Once you reach the top it offers you rolling moorland singletrack before descending into Bilsdale. After climbing again and crossing more moorland it offers you another rocky descent before a short field section and yet another absolutely cracking descent off the Cleveland escarpment.

Blakey & Fryupdale Loop

The southern end of Little Fryupdale
Distance: 
13mi / 21km
Ascent: 
630m / 2,066ft
Offroad: 
62%
Difficulty: 
62%

Blakey Ridge is a rigg in the North York Moors between the dales of Rosedale and Farndale. The road that runs its length runs north to south between Castleton and Hutton-le-Hole.

The area offers a huge array of mountain biking route options with the main road, as mentioned, running north to south. Then there's the dismantled old mining railway, which meanders across High Blakey Moor to the west, to Bloworth Crossing and beyond. This was once off-limits to mountain bikes but has recently been upgraded to a bridleway. To the east, the same rail route skirts around the head of Rosedale leading past the old mine buildings to Hill Cottages.