What makes the North York Moors so good for mountain biking?

February 13, 2023 4 min read

What makes the North York Moors so good for mountain biking?

A blog by Tony Harker, author of North York Moors Mountain Biking. Buy the fully updated second edition HERE.

Well for me, the great thing about mountain biking on the Moors is the sheer number of bridleways and other routes with public access for mountain bikes that criss-cross the length and breadth of the moors. A lot of these rights of way are double farm or moorland tracks but many are singletrack, wriggling in and out of the heather with unexpected holes, ditches and rocks to test the skills of the rider. So where are these singletracks? There are many and some only a short bike ride. Here are five of my favourite singletracks:


1. Great Hograh Moor (Skinner Howe Cross Road)

The trail goes across Great Hograh Moor with views over Baysdale Beck in the valley to the north. Although this track is good in both directions, I prefer going west to east which gives a short downhill finish to the road. This trail has suffered some wear and tear but it still provides single track riding with technical rocky sections, particularly to the west end. Mostly peaty so can be soft after periods of wet weather. Best time to ride is obviously when it's dry and when the heather is in flower. From the west, start on a short technical climb from the lovely packhorse bridge over Great Hograh Beck. From the east, the trail starts from the ‘John Breckon Road’, a short way off the Kildale – Westerdale Road.

Parking: Nearest spot would be Hob Hole GR653064. Free

Pubs/cafes: There are a couple of great pubs in Castleton.


North York Moors Mountain Biking

© John Coefield

2. Rudland Rigg from West Gill Head into Farndale

There is only one way to do this, which is from the Rudland Rigg track at West Gill Head. Although mostly level until the drop into Farndale, it can be fast.

The first half is a stony track through the heather, becoming softer after the gully crossing, then through bracken and bilberry bushes. The finish is a messy drop after the gate to a narrow farm road leading into the Farndale valley. Ride in late summer to see a myriad colours. Access Rudland Rigg from Kildale, Battersby or Stokesley in the north of Kirkbymoorside in the south.

Parking: Low Mill in Farndale is nearest and at the bottom of the trail. Pay

Pubs/cafes: The Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge.


Rosedale and Fryup. © John Coefield

3. George Gap Causeway – Glaisdale Moor

If an ancient paved trod is your thing, then George Gap Causeway will not disappoint. This is one of the many such causeways dotted around the North York Moors.

The trail stretches for one mile from the top of Fryup Head to the Blakey Ridge/Rosedale Road. About 70% of the trail is paved. I prefer starting from the road end as there is a boggy 300 metres to finish at the Fryup end which is easier riding downhill. Access from the west using the road leaving Rosedale Head to Rosedale Abbey, or Glaisdale to Rosedale Abbey Road from the east.

Parking: The road junction at GR697013 on the Rosdale Road from Ralph Cross is nearest. Free

Pubs/cafes: The Lion Inn on Blakey Ridge.



Clay Bank and Bransdale. © John Coefield

4. Stump Cross – Bransdale

A short and sweet cycling route. I love this one. Follow the track from near Stump Cross, meandering through the heather before gently descending to a sharp right bend and finishing with a steep downhill alongside a shale gully into the valley. You can access Bransdale from Helmsley.

Parking: Possibly accessed on a route from Clay Bank car park GR573035 from Urra Moor, Tripsdale and Slape Wath Moor.

Pubs/Cafes: Numerous in Great Broughton and Stokesley.


Rosedale Abbey Circuit. © John Coefield

5. Simon House Rigg

I include this trail as it is one of the longest routes at three miles. Either way is good but north to south from the ends with a climb into Cropton Forest means you will have great views to the west most of the way.

From the north, start at Mallyan Spout Hotel, near Goathland. From the south is a little trickier. You can access this track from Wardle Green in the north east corner of Cropton Forest. 

Parking: Nearest is on the wide grass verge at the Malyan Spout Inn, one mile west of Goathland. Free. There is pay car parking in Goathland with facilities.

Pubs/cafes: Malyan Spout Inn or other in Goathland.


So whether you are out on a Yorkshire mountain biking holiday or just a day ride, the North York Moors have a lot to offer.



The North York Moors has plenty of bike friendly cafes. Here are just a few:

1. Yorkshire Cycle Hub Cafe: near Fryup Gill Farm Great, Fryup, Lealholm, Whitby

2. The Rusty Bike Cafe: near Swainby, Northallerton

3. The Joiners Shop Coffee & Kitchen: near Ingleby Arncliffe, Northallerton


The North York Moors is also home to cycling friendly bed and breakfasts including:

1. Low Costa Mill can be found on the outskirts of Pickering with cycle friendly accommodation

2. High oaks Grangeon Thornton Rd, Pickering

3. High Rigg B&B, near Helmsley has free off-road parking and secure bike storage

4. Forest Holiday Cropton, near Pickering. Bike hire is available


The three main cycle centres on the North York Moors – for any level of mountain biker – are:

1. Great Fryup Dale

The Yorkshire Cycle Hub is located in Great Fryup Dale and offers a bike shop, hire and repair. It also has a cafe and accommodation. Perfect for any cyclist.

2. Dalby Forest

Dalby Forest offers the perfect getaway in the North York Moors. Here you will find some of the country’s best-created mountain biking trails, as well as a bike shop and hire.

3. Sutton Bank

Sutton Bank National Park Centre is a nature hub that attracts cyclists due to the numerous cycling facilities you will find. You can either bring your own bike or hire one at the shop. There are different cycling routes that you can access from this hub.