Starting from Arnside, on Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea, the first 40km is on a mixture of minor roads and pastureland bridleways and gets you to where you enter the Yorkshire Dales National Park. You are now in limestone country. Remote in parts, with moorland, barns, walls and lots of ancient routes from roman days and well used in monastic times for driving livestock from valley to valley. There is very little road until about 150km where the Dales spills into the flatter land of the Vale of York.
This is Harrogate, birthplace of the late Mike Hall, Yorkshireman, probably the best bike-pack endurance racer there has ever been and inspiration to so many of today’s racers. It is then a mixture of bridleways and minor roads to York and the Minster at 220km and the real flat lands. Fast gravel tracks and roads get you to Scarborough at 300km and a ride along the shore of the North Sea. An immediate turn West is riding over the isolated moors of the North York Moors National Park. Tracks that are sometimes well made, sometimes not, both follow the ridges as well as dropping up and down the steep sided valleys.
Much of this area is the Woodcock C2C area, a famous MTB ride. At 440km you drop suddenly into Osmotherly and out of the moors, back onto the Vale of York flatlands. Mainly on Sustrans minor roads, a spin across the flatlands gets to 490km and the start of the Yorkshire Dales again. Back onto those green lanes, drovers roads and bridleways the ride uses some of the iconic MTB tracks across Swaledale and Wensleydale then Ribblesdale and Dentdale before dropping out of the isolated dales at about 575km and a short ride back to Arnside. In total the route is 600km and 9000m of climbing. Instead of 600km there is a shorter option for less experienced riders, cutting out half the course.
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Make sure to check out our Dales Divide 2019 Event Recap here.