The top cycle paths in Yorkshire

5th March 2020

Two people riding a bike

With huge expanses of moorland, woodlands and the stunning coastline, Yorkshire is one of the best places to go cycling, and there’s a cycle path to suit everyone. Whether you’re up for a challenge and want to make the most of the hilly national parks in Yorkshire or you’re after a relaxing and scenic cycle trail by the coast, you can be sure to find it in this beautiful county.

So, what makes cycling in Yorkshire so great? We asked Clare, the founder of the guidebook company for cyclists Epic Road Rides to find out. Clare tells us: “One of my favourite things about cycling in Yorkshire is the incredible landscapes you come across. I just love the brooding moorlands, the grazing cattle, dry stone walls and the million shades of green. The villages you pass through are also stunning, and often home to a great pub with a roaring fire, or a cosy tearoom with generous hunks of homemade cake.

“Exploring Yorkshire by bike is the best way to really get to see it. On a bike, you go to places you'd never otherwise bother with. Places where there's no big tourist attraction or a particular reason to be there. You get a sense of what the countryside is really like and often see things and meet people you'd never otherwise encounter. You're going fast enough to cover some decent ground, but slow enough to properly take it all in.”

So, saddle-up, read on and discover some of the best cycle paths in Yorkshire.

The Paradise Trail – North York Moors National Park

Yorkshire moors

Length: 17.5 miles

Ability: Experienced

For those with experience on a bike, it doesn’t get better than The Paradise Trail in Yorkshire. Expect to see some of the best views the Yorkshire countryside has to offer as well as a few steep hills and windy paths.

We spoke to Cathy from the team at Sutton Bank Bikes, where you can hire your bikes. She tells us: “The 17km Paradise trail is the best in Yorkshire in our opinion. It starts here at the head of Sutton Bank Bikes at the North York Moors National Park Centre.

“Riders can expect a true adventure ride which loops around Boltby forest using forest tracks, moorland and woodland trails which provide a complete cross-section of mountain bike riding through some of the most breathtaking scenery in the North York Moors National Park. This trail is suitable for experienced riders with good skills and fitness.”

Sutton Bank is one of the leading traffic-free cycling spots in England and visitors have five different cycle routes to choose from, each with their own spectacular views. This includes their much-loved skills area, which is 1000ft up on the moors, located right outside the shop, and is great for children and adults alike who want to practice or need some coaching before heading off on their chosen track. Each route is suitable for different levels of abilities, if the Paradise Trail sounds too intense, the Cliff Trail and Fort Trail are much easier.

Cathy continues: “The best thing about Sutton Bank is that it isn't your typical tree-lined trail centre, it is a location for those wanting to take a step into a natural environment with fast, flowing single-track and bridleways, whilst taking in spectacular views. All routes share the excitement of following the escarpment edge on the return stretch. With Lake Gormire sparkling from far below, these rides are something to remember!”

The Cinder Track – Scarborough to Whitby

Cycling at sunset

Length: 21.5 miles

Ability: Beginner/medium

This track follows the old railway line that linked the two famous seaside resorts, Scarborough and Whitby, which closed in 1965, and today, the track is now a popular route for cyclists. If you’re staying in one of the Scarborough hotels and are after an easy to a medium cycle route with stunning views of the Yorkshire coast, then the Cinder Track is perfect.

Julie, from the cycle hire centre Bike About Filey, tells us more: “There are so many different cycling experiences across Yorkshire that it's impossible to really pick one top route. There's something for all abilities and types of bike. On the North Yorkshire coast, one of our favourite routes is the Cinder Track, which runs between Scarborough and Whitby. Our customers always love it!

“This track is our go-to for families because it's completely traffic-free, takes in the most spectacular views of the coast and countryside that you could find anywhere; has lots of places to stop for a break, and you can do as much or as little of it as you like. The route is best done on a mountain or hybrid bike.

“Apart from the obvious benefits for the environment and health, travelling by bike means that you get to see Yorkshire's amazing scenery at a slower pace than by car. You’ll get to many special places you'll never reach in a vehicle, and yet you can cover more distance than on foot.”

Avid cyclist Tim Hoyle, who runs the blog Another Cyclist, is very familiar with this route: “I grew up cycling the Cinder Track section of the Moor and Coast cycle route every weekend with my friends. The freedom this traffic-free route gave us growing up has started a life-long obsession with cycling, fitness and adventure. I’ll always have fond memories of the Whitby to Hayburn Wyke stretch of the Cinder Track.”

The Cinder Track is popular amongst locals and visitors of Yorkshire, allowing all to see the stunning views of the county at their own pace. Tim adds: “From the wildlife encountered, like the occasional deer or the seals at Ravenscar, to the challenges of riding bikes around the old quarry, we always found fun and freedom along the way. With beautiful views of the moors and coast, and plenty to explore off the track like the secluded beaches of Stoupe Beck and Hayburn Wyke I could lose days rediscovering it all over again.”

The Solar System Trail – York

Bikes propped up on grass

Length: 6.4 miles

Ability: Beginner

If you’re after a cycle path with a twist, then this trail is for you, as this path features a model of the solar system along the way. Spot Pluto, Saturn, and all the other planets, as their models are displayed on small stands with some information, making it a great cycle path for children. The path itself is located on an old Yorkshire railway line, making the surface flat and easy to ride.

We spoke to Steven from the cycling blog Leisure Cyclist to discover more: “Ever since the Tour de France passed through Yorkshire in 2014, the subsequent cycling boom in the region and continued success of the Tour de Yorkshire race has shown just why England’s largest county is a fantastic place to ride. Yet, Yorkshire offers much more than picturesque country lanes and challenging hill climbs exclusively for road cyclists.

“For the leisure cyclist, there are several excellent traffic-free paths in Yorkshire that follow old railway lines such as the Solar System route that stretches for 15 miles between York and Selby. The route is unique as a 6.4-mile section of the cycle path features scale models of each planet in the Solar System as well as replicas of the Cassini and Voyager spacecraft.”

The Rochdale Canal – Sowerby Bridge

Bike on a path

Length: 33 miles

Ability: Beginner

Leading you through both Yorkshire and Greater Manchester, the cycle path alongside The Rochdale Canal is a picturesque and largely flat route that’s ideal for cyclists of all abilities, including families who are looking for a traffic-free cycle. During your cycle, you’ll have plenty of places to refuel with food or a refreshing drink.

This is another recommendation by Steven from Leisure Cyclist: “My favourite cycle route starts just outside my hometown of Rochdale in neighbouring Lancashire and follows the Rochdale Canal all the way to Sowerby Bridge in West Yorkshire just over 14 miles away. The Calderdale area has undergone a hipster-led renaissance in recent years with the grand Victorian buildings being converted into trendy cafes, quirky restaurants, vintage stores and artisan cake shops. I really recommend stopping off in Todmorden to get a taste of real-life in an up and coming West Yorkshire town before continuing on to the more-eclectic Hebden Bridge a few miles down the cycling-friendly canal towpath.”

During your stay in Scarborough, make sure to see the best of Yorkshire by enjoying a bike ride. Don’t worry about packing a bike, as there are plenty of trusty bike hiring companies throughout the county.