North York Moors Mountain Bike Routes

North York Moors

The North York Moors National Park is one of Yorkshire's two national parks. These moors are one of the largest expanses of moorland in the world and are criss-crossed with footpaths and bridleways making them a mecca for walkers and mountain bikers alike.

The moors are bordered by the Cleveland escarpment in the north and west and the impressive sea cliffs and coast in the east. There's a real wealth of terrain to get your tyres stuck into. Some areas offer great technical riding for the more advanced riders while some, such as the dismantled railway around the whitby area offer steady flat riding for beginners.

Moors riding can vary massively with the weather. These exposed trails soon become damp and soft in wet weather, but they also dry quickly. A slight downpour can make going difficult and slow, but after a period of dry weather you could be kicking up dust whilst hurtling down the same trails. Either way, when visibility is good, you know you're going to be rewarded with sweeping panoramic scenery, vast areas of purple moorland, punctuated with rocky crags and dry-stone walls. All of this is accessible via a network of trails, many of which are made up of perfect moorland singletrack.

The highest point on the North York Moors is Urra Moor at 454m above sea level, but don't let this fool you into thinking there aren't any big ascents or descent because you'd be wrong - some of the climbs are brutal and some of the descents are epic, but this isn't typical. Most rides involve shorter, more regular, ascents and descents, and this certainly makes it easier, meaning you'll find yourself doing longer and longer rides.

In a nutshell, there's something on offer for everyone. But don't just take our word for it, have a look at some of the routes in this section:

Map of North York Moors Routes


All North York Moors Routes

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

Mountain Biking Through Whorlton Castle
Distance: 13mi / 21km
Ascent: 503m / 1,650ft
Offroad: 72%
Difficulty: 60%

A easy-to-medium route starting in Swainby in the north-west corner of the North York Moors. The route is ridden in a clockwise direction, first paying a visit to Whorlton Castle and Whorl Hill, before climbing into the sleepy valley of Scugdale. This is followed by a short sharp climb/push up onto Barker's Crags and a traverse of Barker's Ridge, above the head of the valley.

Following on from this are a few miles of moor crossing, then a screaming fast fire road descent from Swainby Shooting House. This crosses open moorland at first and then steepening through the woods on Limekiln Bank, spitting you out laughing and screaming onto the road for a short section back to the car.

All-in-all a good fun day out on the moors.