Chop Gate & Urra Moor Mountain Bike Route
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 best starting point is the layby just on the B1257 north of Clay Bank. Head south for until the minor road then turn left onto this road, heading towards Water Beck Farm. Follow the road straight past the farm and look out for a bridleway on the right, opposite Beck House. The bridleway can be very vague here (in fact seemingly non-existent when we were here), but it is definitely a right of way, just keep an eye out for the gate at the other side of the field. Cross the next two fields and then another two, keeping the woods on your left, this will bring you out on a minor road called Greenhow Avenue.
Take a right and follow the road past West Wood Farm and into the woods. Pass a car park on your left and the road begins to climb, gradually getting steeper. The road brings you out on the B1257 at Clay Bank car park, take a left onto the road for a short distance. You will pass a layby on the left and another on the right. Just after both of these is a gate on the left indicating a bridleway and the Cleveland Way. Take this left turn, more climbing I'm afraid! And this is a bit of a toughy after the road climb you've already endured, but once you're up here you know you've gained most of the height you need.
After the stone wall at the top of the ridge, leave the Cleveland Way and turn right onto the bridleway. This is a lovely section of moorland singletrack to enjoy. Follow the trail for a couple of miles, passing the old earthworks on the way. Just as a point of interest, Urra Moor on your left is the highest moor in the North York Moors, its peak standing proud at 454m (1,490ft).
Come off this ridge at Medd Crag where the trail joins at the corner of a well defined doubletrack. Don't take this path, instead take a right and descend steeply into Bilsdale. This brings you out onto the road at Bilsdale Hall. Take a left here and follow the road to the T junction where you will once again join the B1257 for a short period. Take a left and follow down to Chop Gate (there's a nice pub here just after the turn off we're about to take).
In Chop Gate, take the only road on the right and the right again straight away onto the densely overgrown bridleway known as Cold Moor Lane. Stay on this track as it climbs back out of Bilsdale, through hedges at first and then out onto the moor. At the edge of the moor the trail forks. Take the right fork, which is the bridleway, and climb onto the moor top. Pass the tumuli (earth mounds) at the top and continue on the gravel track to the opposite ridge.
Take the bridleway that descends the off the ridge toward Beak Hills farm. On reaching the farm, head north on the track that runs between the fields, stay on this track until you have reached the end of the final field, and a cracking descent lies ahead! Take this steep rocky track through its various switchbacks, taking care to avoid the gate halfway down. Eventually this drops you out at Toft Hill Farm.
Go through the gate onto the road then immediately right onto a bridleway. Follow it along the edge of the fields, passing several farms until you reach the road. Take a left and follow this road (Bank Lane) to the T junction with the B1257. Take a right and follow the road for the short distance back to the layby.
Points of Interest
The Cleveland Hills are a bit of a Mecca for mountain bikers in the area.
Forests make up the bread-and-butter for many mountain bikers, and here in the UK we have no shortage of forest with mountain bike access. Head for the woods if the weather turns wet, the ground takes longer to dampen.
Ah, moorland! Vast swathes of the UK are open moorland and the majority of it is open for business for mountain bikes.