Swainby & Whorlton Moor Mountain Bike Route
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.
Start this route from the village of Swainby. There’s plenty of free parking available by the stream. Cross the bridge near the church and follow the road heading ENE (Church Lane). Continue around the left-hand bend and slight uphill to Whorlton Castle and beyond. Pass an old church yard until you get to a point where the road bends right and a gate ahead of you.
Go through the gate and cross the left edge of the field, keeping to the fence line. Go through the next gate in the corner of the field and follow the hedged track to Whorl Hill Farm (with Whorl Hill on your right) and another gate, then a quick descent to Faceby. Turn right onto the road through Faceby and continue straight on to the minor road where the main road bends left. Continue to where the road ends at High Farm.
From here follow Bank Lane, which leads up towards the woods ahead. Turn off when you reach the last field on the right before the woods. Follow the faint track diagonally across the field towards the style leading in to the woods. Head through this and nail the short climb up to a a fork in the path.
The bridleway from here is straight ahead between the two fire roads, but we couldn't find it on our ride. If in doubt, take the left fork and keep an eye out for the track on the right, which brings you out at the corner of a field. Follow the top edge of the field with the fence kept on your left. If you reach a crossroads and gate before you find the track, take the steep steps leading down to the right instead which will bring you to the same point and another gate.
Go through the gate and turn left onto a fast blast of a downhill section, through another gate and continue through yet another gate before turning right for a short section back to the Scugdale road. Turn left onto the road and follow it for about 1.5 miles to where the metalled road surface ends at Scugdale Hall.
There should be a gate on the left here, this is the start of the climb onto the moor. Climb this right the way to the top, where the tracks passes through Barker's Crags, a popular climbing spot. Once at the top and through the crags, take a right and follow a path through the heather following the edge of the ridge. You will go through another gate and continue on the other side. Cross straight over the first double track to the second doubletrack a short distance later. Turn right onto this track and begin the climb onto Barker's Ridge.
Stay on this track for about 1.5mi, ignoring the track on the left by the boundary stones leading up to the Noon Hill summit, to the next right. Take this right and continuing following the this track, taking the right track where it forks. Follow this track for another approx 2.5mi as it crosses Whorlton Moor until you reach a shooting hut with a junction on your right.
You can stop here for a rest (if needed!) safe in the knowledge that it's all downhill from here! Take the track heading downhill to the north (you can take the short singletrack path from the shooting house to cut the corner off), and prepare for a screaming fast descent right the way back to the start. Make sure you bear left at the first junction taking the Stoney Ridge track, then bear right onto the track that drops into the woods and let go of the brakes and keep a tight hold of the handle bars and let gravity drag you all the way back to the road, ignoring the any junctions and carrying straight on.
Once you hit the road (laughing and giggling if you're like us), turn right and continue for the last half a mile back to the start in Swainby.