Journalist Joe Shute relives the thrill of this year’s peloton, cycling part of the Tour De France route through the Yorkshire Dales.
I have cycled to most corners of Yorkshire and know some of its valleys and dales like the back of my handlebars. Yet there is one ride to which I always return: from Leeds across the Yorkshire Dales in one long sweeping arc before finishing in Skipton. The route whizzes through woods, over moorland, and up a few fierce climbs including Kidstones Pass - as pedalled by the Tour De France peloton this summer. After wheezing up this pass, it is easy to see why Yorkshire has spawned so many famous cyclists, from Beryl Burton to Ben Swift.
Stand at the top, listen to the mewing curlews and breathe in great lungfuls of fresh Dales air; for God’s Own Country is cycling country too, and this route takes in some 100 miles of it.
From north Leeds, the River Wharfe leads you up into the Dales. I stick to the roads on the right side of the bank which are more or less traffic free all the way to Kettlewell and lead you up through woodland trails and Bolton Abbey on the Duke of Devonshire’s estate. This section is glorious and was once recommended to me by Yorkshire man Brian Robinson – the first ever Briton to win a stage of the Tour De France in 1958 – who still heads out on his bike today.
Stopping at Kettlewell, you’ll find one of numerous excellent tea shops en route. Here cyclists from all over the country come to rest their legs and wolf down Yorkshire curd tart by the fire. On fine days, I simply perch on a dry-stone wall, munching down a sandwich while watching goldfinches flit between the hedgerows.
Onwards and, literally, upwards, as Wharfedale rises into Kidstones Pass before zooming down into Wensleydale. I stay off the main road and follow the back route to Askrigg, then on through Buttertubs Pass into Hawes, the home of Wensleydale cheese and many a fine pub, providing the weary cyclists with a restorative pint.
The final leg of my trail takes me past Semer Water, the second largest natural lake in the Dales, before I finally join the main road back to Skipton.
My ride finishes in true Yorkshire style with a pork pie and pint of bitter. Surely, the stuff of Yorkshire champions.
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