TOURING HIGHLIGHTS LIMESTONE LANDSCAPES
The Yorkshire Dales are famed for their rich limestone landscapes. Distinctive, craggy outcroppings protrude beneath the hillside crests all around the Dales Cycleway, but the most impressive example lies at Malham Cove. Here, a curving limestone cliff forms an amphitheatre of rock, topped by a dramatic example of Yorkshire’s famous limestone pavement.
Just as integral to the region are the steep shapes of Ingleborough and Whernside, which dominate the countryside as the route rides past them. These imposing hillsides are offset by Yorkshire’s famous dales. Swaledale is commonly regarded as the most beautiful, with its steep sides and rushing River Swale, while Wensleydale boasts a vibrant community in picturesque Hawes, home to Wensleydale cheese.
This is an area steeped in history, too. Skipton Castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Britain, and is fully accessible to the public. The ruined arch at Bolton Abbey towers over its surroundings. Castle Bolton is a truly palatial manor house with sturdy walls and small, defensive windows. If more recent history is of greater interest, Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway is home to vintage steam trains that offer tours through the Dales.
There are no prolonged flat sections on the Dales Cycleway. The route rises and falls through the Yorkshire hills, providing a huge number of viewpoints along the way.
The steepest climbs on the route are found between Ingleton and Dent at Whernside; between Cowgill and Hawes; on Cross Top Road; and across Grinton Moor. Perhaps the most dramatic of all is the testing ascent on Cam Gill Road. It leads in turn to a blisteringly quick descent down “Park Rash” to Kettlewell Beck.
Sweeping downhills like this are a reoccurring staple of the route. The best examples swoop into Dent, Muker, and Castle Bolton respectively. One of the great joys of the Dales Cycleway lies in its unfaltering ability to reward hard work with downhill bliss.
THE TERRAIN QUIET COUNTRY LANES
- Primarily low-traffic country lanes
- A handful of brief road sections
- One dedicated cyclepath to Malham Tarn
The vast majority of the Dales Cycleway keeps to surfaced roads. A lone stretch over gravel on the approach to Malham Tarn marks the only departure from tarmac. Any road bicycle will be ideal on this cycling holiday.
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