TOURING HIGHLIGHTS FROM NATURAL PHENOMENA TO A WORLD HERITAGE SITE
From Lancaster, with its wealth of museums, the Way of the Roses curves into Lune Valley. It passes the grand Lune Aqueduct and the glacial Great Stone of Fourstones, and traces the northern border of the Forest of Bowland.
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In Settle, station and signal box mark the start of the scenic Settle to Carlisle Railway; from here, the ride continues east into the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with its limestone pavements and an optional detour out to the awe-inspiring Gordale Scar.
Art offsets an industrial gouge in the earth at Coldstones Cut, an enormous installation built into the lip of a quarry, while the earth crafts its own smooth, artistic shapes at Brinham Rocks.
Stately homes, gardens, castles and cathedrals are a reoccurring attraction on this route. Preserved by its long-lasting role as a prison, Lancaster Castle stands complete and open to the public, while York Castle's active military history is displayed in every chip in the walls of Clifford's Tower. The utilitarian simplicity of the site is sharply contrasted by the great pointed arches of York Minster, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Northern Europe.
The crowning jewel of the route is arguably the monumental ruin of Fountains Abbey and the surrounding grounds of Studley Royal, with its deer park and world-renowned ornamental water garden. Its tearooms offer the perfect half hour's respite before pushing on to Ripon, where history comes alive in the nightly practice of the hornblower.
ELEVATION CHALLENGES IN THE PENNINES AND YORKSHIRE DALES
Gradual climbs pick up on the way into the Pennines, with an exceptionally steep ascent departing Settle that awards a sweeping downhill approach to Airton. This can be broken into a series of rolling ascents and descents by opting for the northern alternative route through Malham.
The last major steep section lies between Burnsall and Pateley Bridge. Beyond here, the size of the ascents slowly taper off until the route becomes largely flat, save for a few smooth rises between Pocklington and Hutton Cranswick and again just before the route's end in Bridlington.
THE TERRAIN PAVED ROADS AND TRAFFIC-FREE PATHS
- Marked cycle lanes
- Quiet country roads
- Traffic-free cycle paths
- Sustrans Greener Greenways
The route involves a few short ventures onto main roads with marked cycle lanes. The longest of these stretches by far leads into Pateley Bridge, and is less than ten miles long.
A short section of stone track between Dunnington and Stamford Bridge might threaten racing slicks, but the route is generally accessible for any bike on any rubber.
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