CYCLING IN THE YORKSHIRE DALES
Author: Harry Dowdell
ISBN: 978 1 85284 687 9
Softback, 262 pages, including maps
If you have used Cicerone guides in the past then you’ll recognise the format and the high production quality. If you haven’t, then as you become acquainted with them you will soon pick up on the fact that Cicerone guides are amongst the best.
Harry Dowdell wrote the Cicerone guide to cycling in Spain, a volume I have used often. So, it was good to see “home turf” with a volume calculated to coincide with Yorkshire’s TdeF celebrations. Indeed, there is a chapter dedicated to following the tour route through the Dales – within the limitations of open road riding. The final chapter goes further; La Vuelta a Dales, a six stage grand tour. Maybe the author knows something we don’t, though it is certainly a good idea and an inspiring route.
It would be easy to say that you can’t go wrong for interesting rides in the Yorkshire Dales, but that does not make selection of routes easy. The book is divided into sections which – apart from the final two – contain a selection of routes based on a single centre; Pateley Bridge, Ingleton, Settle, Reeth, Hawes, Leyburn and Sedbergh. Before saying more let’s just acknowledge the protests from pedantry corner that Sedbergh is in Cumbria, not Yorkshire, and ignore them. The Yorkshire Dales refers to the National Park and, in nay case, the cycling surrounding the town is grand.
Reviewed by KJT
The inclusion of Sedbergh takes the rider into the Howgills and the Lune Valley, areas ooff th beaten track from the more familiar “Dales” territory. However, the honey-pots are not ignored, with the routes ranging far and wide across one of Britain’s most intriguing, beautiful and precious landscapes. This, of course, makes cycling the perfect way to explore it, though you’ll gain your reward at the cost of some stiff climbs and careful descents.
It is worth pointing out that the author includes ride times as well as distance and height gained. For me, these would be more than a little on the optimistic side, moreover, the diagrams showing relief can look intimidating. Don’t be put off by either of these. This is not a guide to belting about the Dales. There is plenty of information about accommodation, refreshments, places of interest, bike shops and thorough advice on what to take.
Some of the routes include elements of rough stuff. This is very useful. the Dales are criss-crossed by a variety of tracks making circuits more convenient. The trouble is that, unless one knows the area, following them can involve a great deal of walking or be easy cycling. you do not know which (and not everyone wants to be a pioneer. When heading off-road, the author points out the bike he has used to ride the route. Equally, this can be dependent on weather, skill and ability; judgement is needed.
This is a through and imaginative guide to a fine cycle touring area. It is likely to be of interest to those who are familiar with the Yorkshire Dales National Park as well as new-comers. As someone who falls into the first category, I found reading it refreshing. For the newcomer, it offers all that is necessary to discover the area at one’s own pace, at whatever speed you take the ascents and descents.
The guide is available in printed and digital formats. It is also available for Kindle.
REVIEW FIRST PUBLISHED 2014