Esk Dale Railway Mountain Bike Route
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!
This route is best ridden west to east, starting in Kildale. Park up in Kildale and set off east along the road. Stay on this the road for the 5km (3mi) to Commondale. In Commondale, take the road on your right for a short distance to the bridleway exit on the left at Foul Green. Follow this track through fields, keeping the railway to your right. After a short while you will join the road just north of Castleton, take right and then a left onto the bridleway shortly after this.
Keep to this track, again with the railway on the right, as it passes through the woods at Danby Park and out the other side until you reach the road once again. Take a left onto the road and climb into Danby. Take a right at the crossroads in Danby where you will cross over the railway and the River Esk, and then take a left onto Easton Lane in Ainthorpe. Heading east now, keep on the road to Duck Bridge and turn left over the bridge, ignore the first road on the left and take the second, passing under the railway. The road bends left then right as it climbs slightly, follow to Houlsyke.
From here take the more major road which leads east. You will cross over the railway, then pass under it then over it again in quick succession. Soon you will reach Lealholm and a T-junction in the road. Directly opposite is the a carpark and the start of a farm track. Follow this track keeping the river to your right and the railway to your left until you reach Underpark Farm. In the farmyard turn left, pass under the railway and turn right immediately after this. Continue along here as the track crosses a field until you reach the road, then turn right. Carry on past Park House Farm on your left, cross over the railway again. The track will bear left, following the bend in the river. Turn right just before it passes under the railway again.
After 100m or so you will rejoin the road at Rake Farm. Continue through Thorneywaite and on to Glaisdale. Turn left, heading downhill, at the next junction signposted 'Local Traffic Only' and 'Unsuitable for long vehicles'. Follow this road as it winds through the houses, and continue beyond the houses until you reach the T-junction at Carr End. Go straight over here, heading behind the Arncliffe Arms pub and find the bridleway that goes through the woods by the river on your left. This comes out on a quiet country road just north of Delves, take a left here and follow all the way to Egton Bridge.
Cross over the bridge and follow the road round to the left. Shortly after the road on your left, turn right into the entrance to Egton Manor. If you reach the railway here, you have gone too far already. This road through Egton Manor is a permitted right of way. Follow this track past the manor, past the sewage works and past Beckside Farm. Pass under the railway bridge and continue until you reach the road again, just outside of Grosmont. Turn left onto the road and shortly afterwards, where the road bears left, turn right. Continue past the housing estate until the road bends sharply left, with a farm track straight ahead. Take the farm track.
Follow this track through Grosmont Farm, past Fotherleys Farm and into the woods. Where the trail forks in the woods, take the right hand path and follow, soon leading out of the woods and along the edge of a field. The track turns left, following the corner of the field but shortly afterwards it exits the field on the right, between a row of trees. Head down here until you get to the more defined track at the end. Go straight over here, head east along this new track. Go through the farm and across the field. When you reach the woods, keep them on your right, through two fields and then along the far edge of the third one. At the far corner, follow the thin track which winds through the woods.
At the other side of the woods you will meet a well defined farm track, but ignore this and continue straight on, on the narrow track straight across the field. Eventually you will reach the end of this track where it makes a T-junction with a more well defined farm track. Turn right onto this track. Follow it as far as Thistle Grove (farm), but not into the farm yard. Take the thin track just to the right of the wall, keeping the wall on you left, and pass through the gate in the corner. After another field crossing a short wood section you will once again reach a wide farm track, turn right and then follow as it bends round to the left then round to the right. Once again in the woods, continue ahead until you meet the first major road for a while.
This is the A169 Whitby to Pickering road. Cross over and go down the smaller road opposite and keep an eye out for a metal bridge on your right. Cross this bridge and this will bring you to Sleights Station. Get on the train and head back to the car in Kildale!
Points of Interest
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.