Nidderdale & Coverdale Mountain Bike Route

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This route in the Yorkshire Dales can be a completely different animal depending on what time of year you do it. On a clear summer day, breathtaking views stretch out as far as the eye can see in all directions. In the winter these high moors can become an inhospitable place and civilisation may seem at times to be miles away, so preparation is the key.

The route is suited to fitter riders and those with a fair to good skill level. It's a toughy but it's also one of the more rewarding routes of the Dales. You will cross three valleys and back again, taking in Nidderdale, Coverdale and Scar House Reservoir on the way. If your legs are feeling up to it, then what are you waiting for!


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The starting point is in Lofthouse, which is 11km (7 miles) north of Pateley Bridge in the Yorkshire Dales. There's a small car park in Lofthouse but the layby to the north west is probably better for this ride. Set off from the layby heading west for the short distance to a junction on the right signposted Middlesmoor. Take this road which climbs steadily at first then a little more steeply into Middlesmoor, there are refreshments here but it's too soon for that, carry on!

Just past the village the road soon turns into a rocky farm track known as In Moor Lane, which also forms part of the Nidderdale Way. This track takes you up onto In Moor and eventually reaches a gate at the top. Go through the gate and cross the moor as it starts to turn in a more acceptable direction - down! Still on the Nidderdale Way, the rocky track zig-zags down the steep sided Nidderdale and spits you out laughing and screaming onto the road at Scar House Reservoir.

Turn right down the road to the dam and then turn left to cross the dam. At the other side bear left onto the rocky double track that flanks the opposite valley side with the reservoir on the left. Follow this to the T junction, turn right here and follow onto the moor top. Go straight on through the gate at the top and follow across the moor, dropping down into Coverdale.

The track passes along the edge of a field and eventually onto the road at Arkleside, follow the road downhill and cross the River Cover. Take a right onto the road heading towards Carlton and West Scrafton. After a few miles, in Carlton, take the road on your left. About 250 yards further on take the stoney track on the right which climbs out of the valley. Carry on climbing past the fields, past Howden Lodge and out onto Carlton Moor.

Keep to the same indistinct track across the top and back down again through a couple of gates and a boggy section and finally onto a road. Don't think you're going downhill from here though, it's a left turn and a road climb from here! Follow the road for a mile or two until you reach a wooden bridleway sign pointing left. Take this turn.

Next is another 'up-and-over', meaning yet more climbing - but of course the descending to match it at the other side. Go through the gate and onto Braidley Moor, followed by a second gate after which the trail turns slightly to the right. Carry on this ever more distinct trail as it fords a beck and passes some shooting butts.

The trail becomes less distinct again, but just follow it down into Coverdale. Go through another gate, through a boggy section and to a wooden gate on your left. Go through this and head directly downhill to Braidley, now back in Coverdale.

Take a left onto the road and then right heading into Arkleside. Head over the bridge and stay on the road with the river on your left, bear left at the end of the road and climb once again, retracing your tracks over the moor. Go through the the gate at the top and descend again towards Scar House Reservoir. Turn left at the lodge you passed earlier, follow the stoney double track keeping the reservoir to your right.

Just before the dam, bear left slightly onto the double track which is the Nidderdale Way as it climbs slightly before dropping again into Woo Gill. Climb again, staying on the double track as you pass through a gate and pass a shooting house on the right. The trail bears left then right. Carry on, keeping Nidderdale valley on your right. The trail flanks the top of the valley for some distance from here.

Eventually you will reach a shooting house near Thrope Edge, turn right here and descend into the valley. When you reach Thrope Farm at the bottom, go through the gate and left onto Thrope Lane. This leads you eventually to the road, at which point it's a just short road section through Lofthouse, turn right at the T junction and arrive back at the layby.

Escape Route

If you are finding it a bit too much and need to cut it short, the best bet would be to cut out the final Nidderdale section. When you reach the dam for the second time, instead of bearing left onto the Nidderdale Way, cross the dam and then turn left onto the road. This provides and easy low-level road section through Nidderdale and back to the layby.

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