The Nidderdale Classic - MTB Route
This perennial route with a little bit of everything is why mountain bikers come to Nidderdale with their bikes and what locals refer to when they ‘Just pop up the valley for a ride’.
The route is at times remote, at times challenging and very often just puts a big silly grin on your face – this is what riding in the Yorkshire Dales is all about. Download the GPX file here.
Part 1 – lead mines and meadows
Starting from Pateley Bridge the ride begins the first climb of the day up through the village of Bewerley, turning back on yourself to continue the climb along the surfaced bridleway to Eagle Hall. This long gentle climb leads to long-reaching moorland tracks and a visit to the Providence House Lead Mines where the bridleway snakes down through the spoil heaps with a loose off-camber surface that will challenge your line choice. A few miles of gentle coasting along track and road brings you back to the valley road.
From here, you can relax with a gentle waterside road ride up the valley alongside Gouthwaite Reservoir. On a calm day, the hills of Upper Nidderdale reflect perfectly in the still waters, disturbed only by the wetland birds that call this body of water their home. A nature and bird observation point halfway along the water offers the first ideal stop for refreshments and/or faffing.
Passing through the pretty village of Ramsgill you leave the road once more and follow an undulating track to the left through the fields and meadows before a short steep climb along a paved track delivers you through a farmyard and then once more, fields!
Care should be taken as you re-join surfaced farm tracks - this route passes through the family outdoor attraction Studfold Adventure Trails and family groups should be expected around the blind corners. A steep cobbled decline leads you to the main Studfold shop where refreshments are often available in the summer months.
Part 2 - Top of the Valley
Dig deep as you re-join the road turn left and ascend the Middlesmoor climb. A steep and brutal climb, Middlesmoor will put an early sting in your legs. Be warned however, it saves the worst until last with a 25% hairpin that finally leads you into the village.
Riding through Middlesmoor, you get a great refreshment opportunity and a stunning view to admire while you do so from the small car park on your right. Worth taking advantage of, as the climbing is not over.
Continuing, the uneven track at first seems like an easy climb but several miles of spinning away and ever more careful line choice will wear down most legs – you will be glad when the gradient finally relents.
Now it is down time and the popular Scar House Descent, this steep rocky track has loose rocks at every one of its tight corners, protruding bedrock and not a single flat moment from top to bottom. As part of the Nidderdale Way long-distance walking route, this track is also well used by walkers so always ensure you can stop if needed and please be slow and considerate around other trail users.
At the foot of the descent turn towards the dam at the foot of Scar House Reservoir, and then cross it, taking the opportunity to stop in the middle and observe the view and dizzying height.
Over the dam, a left up the cobbles and then right and back on yourself puts you on a slightly grassy track up the hillside. Follow this track for a few miles and after stream crossings followed by very steep climbs, you will come to a gate just before a shooting lodge.
Turn left before the gate and ride up to another track running parallel to the first. Go through the gate here and continue along the track for what will total around four miles. At the end of the first gradual climb you will enjoy the highest point of the ride and stunning views behind you over the reservoirs and behind them the immense hills of Great Whernside and to the right, Little Whernside with its distinctive flat top.
Part 3 – Back to Base
Keep following this track with its ups and downs past the next shooting house, and down to the road at the top of Tour de Yorkshire regular climb Trapping Hill. Turn left and briefly follow the road, then very soon turn right to pick up the next track, over the next three miles bear right at each of the next three junctions. The last of which will set you up for your final descent back down to the valley floor.
The Ramsgill descent is broken up by a number of gates, please close gates behind you and ride slowly and considerately around walkers who may be walking the 6 Dales Trail – a popular end-to-end walk that shares this track.
At the bottom of the final very loose and rocky leg of the Ramsgill descent, take an almost immediate left and follow the lane that will pass alongside the wetland reserve at the top of Gouthwaite reservoir and then the reservoir itself.
As you near the dam end of the water, there is one last climb, a bit technical at times and then the track drops down into the village of Wath. As you re-join the surfaced road turn right and ride through the village, once over the little packhorse bridge turn left, and ride the last mile back to Pateley Bridge and some well-earned delicious food and drink.
There a few different interpretations of the Nidderdale Classic, but we consider this the core ride onto which options can be added. These include riding the long way round Scar House reservoir to cross the dam at Angram, descending the bridleway before the first shooting house and climbing back up on a track called Bracken Ridge before the second – or for a serious all day ride, add the Great Greenhow route on to the beginning of this route for a 50 mile ride.
You can also skip the initial lead mines section and head straight up the valley road to save the legs early on in the ride.
This route is an amalgam of the Gouthwaite Circular route and the Tour of Nidderdale published by the Nidderdale AONB team – both of which make for great shorter rides if you want to work up the full 30 miles.Read more
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