Ah, moorland! Vast swathes of the UK are open moorland and the majority of it is open for business for mountain bikes.
Masham & Nidderdale Mountain Bike Route
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.
Start in the historic market town of Masham, there should be plenty of parking available in the town centre. Head south on Thorpe Road as if heading for Grewelthorpe, but take a right before you have left Masham, heading for Ilton. After about 4km (2.5mi) you arrive at Ilton.
Carry straight on through the hamlet and go up a track marked 'no through road for motor vehicles'. You will pass through a wooded area, first on both sides and then only on the left, followed by several fields and eventually you will reach Ilton Moor.
Climb this doubletrack onto the moor in a south-westerly direction. The trail merges with another from the left, keep heading straight on, heading west now. Stay on this track for 5km or so as it traverses Grewelthorpe Moor, Ilton Moor, Arnagill Moor and Low Ash Head Moor.
Eventually the trail bears right where another trail joins it from the left. Shortly after that it brings you out on a minor road just north of Lofthouse. Take a left and after only a brief section of road, take a right onto another bridleway. This track heads in a straight line at first, towards Nidderdale, before turning right and heading northwards along Thrope Edge on the eastern wall of Nidderdale.
The bridleway keeps to the top of Nidderdale's eastern flank. Pass a shooting hut on your left, and carry on past a couple of stone walls. Carry on across Lofthouse Moor until you get to a gate after which the track forks. Take the right fork (which is the more defined), heading almost north, this is Dale Edge. The track very gradually bends round to the left, following the dale's edge.
Carry on as you pass through several field boundaries. At this point navigation becomes quite difficult. Look out for the remains of an old mine shaft on your right. There's a bridleway here that crosses the moor but it's very indistinct, you may even need to shoulder the bike at some points. If you reach a wall with a track running along it at right angles to the track you're on, then you've gone too far. When you find the path, head towards South Haw, which is the high point you see ahead. The path goes just left of this. Just before South Haw the trail forks, make sure you take the right fork - the one that passes by South Haw.
Head through the gate and continue across Steel House Moor and descend into Steel House Gill. Follow the gill easterly, firstly on the singletrack bridleway that follows the left side of the river and then cross over to the more defined track on the right side of the river.
Keep to this track (Coal Road). It begins to pass through some fields whilst the River Burn drops off below to the left. It's not long before the track does the same and you will meet the road again at Gollinglith Foot. Turn right onto the road and keep to the same road for the 7km or so back to the start in Masham.