The Yorkshire Dales Cycleway is an official circular cycle ride of 250km (extended version) or 210km if you want something shorter.
In July 2021 me and my cycling buddy Fiona did the extended version, starting at Skipton and taking 4 days. We arrived on Wednesday 21 July and started cycling on the following day.
Day 1 Thursday
Skipton to Clapham.
Stayed at The New Inn and had a very lovely dinner there. Very small and picturesque.
Day 2 Friday
Clapham to Kirkby Stephen
Long ride, lots of hills, hadn’t eaten enough. Beautiful scenery but mood was low because we were under-fuelled.
Day 3 Saturday
Kirkby Stephen to Leyburn
Again, long ride and very hilly but we were positively singing all the way as we’d stuffed our faces at the B&B (scones, porridge, yogurt, fruit).
Day 4 Sunday
Leyburn back to Skipton.
Luggage: We carried a small haversack each day on our backs with inner-tubes, waterproof, food, snacks and extra clothing. Our main luggage was transported between each B&B by a company called brigantes. This was costly (£130 each) but so so worth it. They cover all cycling and walking trips, have been doing it for years and are extremely efficient and friendly. There are many luggage courier companies but this is the largest and, in my opinion, the best.
Parking: We parked the car in Skipton using justpark.com. For a small fee (about a fiver a day) you can park your card on someone’s drive). There’s also parkonmydrive.com.
Food : Eat much more than you would. Remember you are cycling 35-50 miles a day with lots and lots of elevation and it really takes it out of you. You may not actually feel hungry – and by that I mean that gnawing feeling in your stomach – but your legs will be happier if you really fill up with grub. Eat a good lunch too. I had sandwiches and fruit most days as well as small sugary snacks in the afternoon if I need an injection of energy. We ate well at dinner and washed it all down with wine. It was boiling hot so we sweated a lot at night (charming thought I know) so drank gallons of water each day.
Punctures: Carry spare inner tubes and learn how to sort out a puncture. Find out where the bike shops are in any nearby towns, just in case.
Which bike?: Most of the route was on small tarmac roads away from main carriageways but there was the odd stony path. Drop handlebar road bikes (maybe with thicker tyres) are fine or you can use a hybrid or an electric bike. I used to have a road bike but decided the leaning forward position wasn’t doing me any good so swapped it for this. A TREK FX5 Sport Bike. Carbon fibre so light and just under £2000. Fiona has the same but a newer model. Buy a good lock !
Accommodation: We worked out the stops according to the elevations marked on the cycle the dales website and we just searched for Airbnb’s and B&Bs as you would for any other holiday. Do check they can take bikes though and preferably have somewhere to lock them up at night.
Tips: Buy good sunscreen and lip screen. Some of the hills are long but not especially steep. These can be boring and the only thing which will distract you is music so think about taking headphones. A waterproof map cover is good. Padded shorts are essential or at least padded cycling underwear under normal shorts. A good waterproof. Cycling in the rain is completely miserable but if you’re in the UK, there’s a good chance you’ll get wet. Forget cheap ones, spend as much as you can afford. Showerproof means you’ll get drenched. Waterproof is the only option.
If you fancy a cycling trip but want someone else to organise it, then both Fiona and I can recommend cycleactive.co.uk. We’re thinking of Wales End to End next …although when I suggested it, Fiona said her hearing had gone.
Thank you for reading.