indicates every 2 miles
|Cycle Route Details|
|Route Name||High Bentham Circular via Muker and West Witton|
|Distance : miles (km)||91.43 (147.14)|
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|A pleasant Dales tour taking in some fine scenery, beautiful valleys, lovely villages...and vicious climbs! I did this as a two day camping tour with panniers and tent, but could be done by the fitter racer in a day.
Start: High Bentham, N.Yorks (on Leeds-Lancaster railway line). From centre of village follow signposted road to Ingleton. Cross the A65 and go up through the village and steepish climb out onto the Hawes road, passing White Scar Cave on the right. Road continues dead straight for a couple of miles and then climbs up past the Hill Inn to level out again on the last mile to Ribblehead - fine views of the famous viaduct. Beyond Ribblehead continue straight on through rolling moorland rising gently for 5 miles to the summit of Newby Head 438m. An exhilarating fast downhill stretch follows for most of the 6 miles to Hawes, a busy small town with plenty of shops and eateries.
Go east out of Hawes on the A684 but almost immediately turn left on a small road signposted Hardraw and Simonstone. This winds around a river bend and up a couple of short, steep steps to the hamlet of Simonstone. Continue through the hamlet and start steeply up the ensuing road bound for Muker. This 17%er is entertaining with a full load, but fortunately levels out after a mile to provide easier going to the top of the Buttertubs Pass, 505m. Plunge down the other side past the famous Buttertubs potholes (nasty bend!) and continue steeply down again to the junction with the B6270 just outside Thwaite. Turn right at the junction and meander pleasantly along the narrow road to Muker (pub) and sameways for a few more miles to Gunnerside (pubs and shop). Undulating, pleasant riding continues for several more miles to the larger village of Reeth with pubs and shops and B&Bs. The leisurely rider will take a well earned rest at this point, find some accomodation nearby and enjoy the ambience and famous beauty of Swaledale!
Whether stopping or not, though, the route continues on for a mile through Reeth to the hamlet of Grinton (pub) where the main road swings sharply left. At this point turn right (straight ahead) up the hill past the church on the right and climb quite steeply out of Grinton and onto the moor. A junction is quickly met near an odd looking castellated house in some trees. Turn right here and head for Redmire, continuing to climb for several miles to the flat summit of the pass at 450m. A swooping downhill now follows with the occasional sharp bend (!) before the road drops into the treeline and past the turn-off to Castle Bolton. Continue straight downhill into the lovely village of Redmire. Your objective is the village of West Witton on the other side of the valley, and you can reach it by two roads - the Leyburn road as far as Wensley and then doubling back to West Witton. Or the road west out of Redmire to Carperby and then Aysgarth, with its picture postcard waterfalls, and doubling back east to West Witton on the A684. West Witton is a beautiful linear viillage with shops and pubs and accommodation, well worth a visit. And you're well advised to stop and take on fuel....for the Witton Steeps!
Half way down the village street is an obvious signposted turnoff to Melmerby and Carlton. Take this and climb steadily towards an imposing hillside. Several sharp and very steep bends put one onto 'The Steeps' proper, half a mile of consistently steep grind to some lesser but still irksome uphills past 'The Gallops' on the left and out onto the moortop. The fit and fresh will relish 'The Steeps' but mere mortals and loaded tourers may find it quicker to push! Over the shoulder of the hill is a pleasant run down for a mile or so to Melmerby. Turn right and head for Carlton, a strung out village on a slight incline (they start to tell!) with a pub and shop. At the top of the village, swing left downhill and the road now takes you along the deserted valley of Coverdale with occasional hamlets such as Horsehouse (pub). Beyond here it's pretty wild but manageable going as far as a steep drop down to a bridge and corresponding rise beyond. The road switchback climbs for another mile or so, until an obvious left bend heralds a steep hill. This goes on longer than expected and continues to rise gently beyond its apex to the summit at 500m. Beyond lies the valley of Wharfedale.
A narrow road enclosed in stone walls descends quickly to some very steep bends which should be treated with respect! And be glad you're going down them rather than up! A swoop onto the level rises gently for half a mile before plunging steeply down again into the popular village of Kettlewell, with several pubs and shops, B&Bs and a campsite. Once your brakes have cooled off, continue south towards Kilnsey and its famous overhanging cliffs, but turn right a mile before the village and head up Littondale on easy road for 3 miles to Arncliffe, pub and tea shops. Ignore the road to Litton and follow the Malham signs, turning left over a beck and immediately up a very steep climb upto 410m again. After levelling out for a short mile, the road then descends via steep hairpins to Darnbrook farmhouse (don't swoop this last bit unless the gate is open!). Beyond the road climbs more gently out onto the slopes of the delightfully named Fountains Fell and contours round to Malham Tarn. Keep right at any junctions here and keep heading for Settle. A short steep rise past a farm on the right and then the road levels out contouring round the hillside. After another mile the main road swings left downhill at a junction - keep right here instead following a straight road downhill for a mile until it suddenly drops into a small valley and climbs short but steep up the other side past a farm to a T-junction. Turn left and follow the road downhill for a couple of miles as it drops into Ribblesdale at Stainforth and join the B6479. Turn right for two miles on the main road, then fork off left at Helwith Bridge (pub) and follow the road as it skirts beneath the edge of Moughton Scar to descend gently to Austwick (pub,shop). A mile beyond the village the route joins the busy A65, turn right and follow round a couple of bends and then fork right off the main road to Clapham (pub,shop). Across the bridge the road quickly rejoins the A65. Go straight across onto the B6480 and the last 4 miles of undulating road to High Bentham and the finish.
A round trip which takes in widely differing Dales scenery with generally hilly terrain and some steep climbs for good measure. Do it in a day if you're fit, or take your time and enjoy the scenery in two.
|Landmarks/Pubs for lunch/Sites to see?|
|Start and Finish at railway station on Leeds-Lancaster line. Plenty to see on route according to taste. Good range of accommodation en route plus refuelling/refreshment opportunities. Occasional outdoor shops may have some cycling parts or accessories.
|Near By Cycle Shops|
|Dales Bike Centre|
|Cycling Clubs located in this region|
|Skipton Cycling Club|