Are you ready to embark on a new cycling adventure, but you are not sure where to go and which bike to take? We made the choice for you! Look no further than to Route YC, a touring route that lets you explore all the Yorkshire Coast has to offer on either road, touring or gravel bike.
This part of Yorkshire is easy to get to by train, and the area between Whitby in the north and Spurn Point in the south offers a stunning mix of hills, spectacular scenery, historic sites and coastal towns.
In this blog Great British Gravel Rides author Markus Stitz has used his experience on and off-road to pick five routes inspired by Route YC, to help you plan your next cycling trip to this beautiful part of the UK.
The perfect route for touring bikes: A loop around Hornsea
This loop starts and finishes in the seaside town of Hornsea, which is the start (or finish) of the Trans Pennine Trail (TPT), a 215 miles (346 km) long touring route between Southport and Hornsea. Like other small coastal resorts along the Yorkshire Coast, Hornsea has the usual promenade with hotels, fish and chip shops and gift shops, but is also home to the Hornsea Mere, the largest freshwater lake in Yorkshire.
The ride takes you on quiet roads through the countryside to Skipsea, following the National Byway, and then ventures into the Yorkshire Wolds, the northernmost chalk hills in the UK. The riding on small country roads here is stunning, and the small villages dotted along the route provide a great opportunity to explore further. The last section of the ride takes you on the Trans Pennine Trail through dense woodland back to Hornsea.
Where to stay: The Gardeners Country Inn
Where to eat: Stackhouse Bar
Must stop: Hornsea Mere
The perfect route to get into gravel riding: A loop around Filey
Short and mostly flat, this is not only the perfect introduction to gravel cycling for beginners, but also a really nice stroll around the countryside around this popular seaside town for more experienced riders.
The route starts and finishes at Filey train station, which has regular services to Hull and Scarborough and towns and villages along the line. After cycling along the promenade there is a short steep hill to climb, before a gravel path takes you past a caravan site. The next section is mainly on tarmac to Muston, and after another bit on the road, a bridleway takes you into the countryside towards Carr Lane and Lebberston. The ride back to Filey is mostly on cycling paths, and there are plenty of good opportunities to grab a bite to eat in town once you are done cycling.
Where to stay: White Lodge Hotel Filey
Where to eat: The Coffee Shed
Must stop: Filey Promenade
The perfect loop to explore the beautiful roads of the Yorkshire Coast: A loop around Bridlington
This is a route which is perfect for more experienced road cyclists. Bridlington is well connected by regular trains to Hull and Scarborough. Make sure you have enough time to marvel at the Rudston Monolith, at over 7.6 m the tallest standing stone in the UK. You’ll be surprised by how big it really is! Dating back to the Late Neolithic or Early Bronze Age, it weighs approximately 40 tonnes.
Another highlight on this route is Flamborough Head, a chalk headland with sheer white cliffs, which provide nesting sites for thousands of seabirds, and are of international significance for their geology. If you are into lighthouses, there are two here, the oldest dating from 1669, and Flamborough Head Lighthouse, which was built in 1806.
From Bridlington train station the ride takes you on small roads and tarmac cycle paths out of town, and then joins the A165 to Lisset. This section can be busy with traffic, so extra caution is needed here. From Lisset you follow minor roads all the way to Flamborough, passing the impressive memorial to the 158 Squadron, situated on the edge of the old airfield site on Gransmoor Road.
Heading into the Yorkshire Wolds, a good place for a rest is Rudston (and the monolith in the church yard), before another set of climbs takes you further into the hills and back to the coast at Flamborough Head. Frome here it is an easy cycle back to Bridlington.
Where to stay: Manor Court Hotel
Where to eat: Scrumdiddlyumptious
Must Stop: Flamborough Head & Rudston Monolith
The perfect weekend cruise on your bike – flat but far from boring: A loop around Withernsea
This road ride will easily make a nice cycle touring weekend away in Holderness, an area of rich agricultural land. The former marshland was drained in the Middle Ages, and has more in common topographically with the Netherlands than with other parts of Yorkshire.
Maybe a coincidence, maybe not, but the ferry that takes you from the UK to the Netherlands departs and lands at Hull, which is connected by a railway path with Hedon, where the ride starts. There are sections of this route where you can easily jump on the railway path or bridleways; this loop can be made into a nice and flat gravel adventure.
The highlights of the route are the lighthouses in Withernsea and Spurn Point, Yorkshire’s very own Land’s End. As the former road has been partly buried under sand, a Unimog safari is the best way to get to the impressive lighthouse there. If you take a gravel or mountain bike, you can ride there too.
The closest village from Spurn Point is Easington, from where you follow quiet country roads along the coast to Withernsea, with the lighthouse towering above the roofs in the coastal town.
Nearby Roos inspired the meeting of Beren and Luthien in J. R. R. Tolkien’s ‘The Silmarillion’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’, which was written after the author and his wife visited a wood close to the village. Aldborough marks the most northerly point of the route, from where you return back to the start in Hedon.
Where to stay: The Spurn Bird Observatory
Where to eat: Cakey Bakey Yum Yum
Must stop: Spurn Lighthouse
A classic with a twist: The Cinder Track from Whitby to Scarborough
Once an uneconomical railway line due its steep inclines, the Cinder Track has nowadays been turned into a popular cycling route with locals and visitors alike. It follows the old railway from Whitby to Scarborough, which was in use from 1885 to 1965. Like other routes that have now become cycling tracks, it fell victim to the Beeching axe in the 1960s.
A word of warning first: Although advertised as such, the surface of this route is no longer suitable for touring bikes. For gravel and mountain bikes the route is a fun ride with amazing views along the way. Be prepared to meet other path users and mind your speed along the route.
The highlight of the route is the superbly picturesque village of Robin Hood’s Bay, with narrow, twisting cobbled streets and alleyways. By the end of the 18th century the village had earned a reputation as a smuggler’s haunt, and you can easily imagine the sailors and fishermen, smugglers and press gangs that walked these streets hundreds of years ago. Nowadays you’ll wish you could smuggle yourself up the hill; be prepared for a 30% incline on the way back to the Cinder Track.
Ravenscar is the halfway point of the ride, and is known as the town that never was. Developers had plans to create another seaside resort to rival nearby Scarborough and Whitby, but they never came to fruition. Roads were laid out and some houses were built, but Ravenscar never achieved popularity and the development was left unfinished. While you pass a town with sewers and streets but no houses, the tearoom here is a welcome opportunity to stop.
From Ravenscar it is mostly downhill all the way to Scarborough. Both Scarborough and Whitby are popular holiday destinations, well connected by public transport and with a good choice of places to stay and eat.
Where to stay: Bike & Boot Inn Scarborough and/or YHA Whitby
Where to eat: Mr Cooper’s Coffee House
Must stop: Robin Hood’s Bay
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