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Harland Way cycle route

Cyclists on Harland Way, between Spofforth and Wetherby

The Harland Way is a Sustrans cycle and foot path between Spofforth and Wetherby, and is phase 1 of a route between Harrogate and York, the rest of which may one day be built. The Harland Way is owned and maintained by a partnership of Leeds City Council, Harrogate Borough Council, the Wetherby to Thorp Arch Railway Path Forum, and the Thorp Arch Estate and Retail Park.

It is on the route of a railway trackbed, and was converted to a path in 1992, at which time it reached the outskirts of Wetherby. A year later, it was extended into the former railway triangle in Wetherby by the local Lions Club. The route is named after Peter Harland, the late former Lion President.

The surface for most of the way from Spofforth to Wetherby is compacted gravel, and is not suitable for pure road bikes. Any bike with more robust tyres, including a hybrid, can be cycled along the Harland Way. Before Wetherby, the surface changes to tarmac.

There's some information about the Harland Way, and a map, on this Sustrans Wetherby Railway Path leaflet.

Harland Way  Harland Way compacted gravel surface

Harland Way cycle route: map

The Sustrans leaflet has quite a good map of the route.

This overview map is from OpenCycleMap:

Map of Harland Way

Or see the map directly on OpenCycleMap. (I believe the Harland Way is incorrectly labelled route 66 from Spofforth to Wetherby, and that it is in fact route 67; from Wetherby onwards, it becomes route 66).

Harland Way cycle route: route notes

The Harland Way starts from East Park Road, just off Spofforth High Street. It's a housing estate, with street parking. Alternatively, if you're parking in Spofforth, there are spaces on Castle Street, in sight of Spofforth Castle ruins. 

East Park Road, Spofforth  Start of Harland Way, Spofforth

Spofforth is shown on this map:

Map of Spofforth, showing start of Harland Way

Where the route begins, there's a green sign with a map, and an indication that this is National Cycle Network route 67.

Start of Harland Way, Spofforth  Map of Harland Way on sign in Spofforth

As it's a on the trackbed of the former railway line, the Harland Way is flat and straight. It goes through farmland and woods.

Harland Way through farmland  Harland Way through woodland

There are a number of gates and barriers on the route, which are designed to prevent it being used by motorcycles. The first one leaving Spofforth (below left) is not at all cycle-friendly.

Gate on Harland Way  Anti-motorcycle gate on Harland Way

Just before arriving in Wetherby, there's a choice of routes (shown in the photo below). Keep left if you are continuing via Wetherby towards Thorp Arch. The right turn goes to the western edge of Wetherby.

Junction near Wetherby on Harland Way

You come out onto Deighton Road. The barrier between the cycle route and Deighton Road is so narrow that you have to get off. This is more inconvenient in the other direction, because the barrier means that you can't get a run-up to cycle up the hill, and so you'll probably have to push your bike up it.

Harland Way/ Deighton Road junction  Deighton Road, Wetherby

The route in Wetherby is signposted, but not very well. Go right on Deighton Road, left on York Road, right on Hallfield Lane, then left on Freemans Way. (In particular, the sign indicating the left turn on York Road is easy to miss).

York Road, Wetherby Hallfield Lane, Wetherby Freemans Way, Wetherby

This map shows the route in Wetherby:

Map of Harland Way in Wetherby

The cycle route (now NCN route 66) resumes from Freemans Way, with an underpass under the A1. 

Route 66 begins from Freemans Way, Wetherby  Cycle route 66 underpass under A1

The route is once again on the railway trackbed. There are views of Wetherby racecourse to the left. 

Wetherby Racecourse

It crosses the Wetherby to Walton road, then the Walton/Thorp Arch road, and finishes at the Thorp Arch Trading Estate, about 5km from Wetherby.

Sign on NCN route 66  NCN route 66 crosses Walton/Wetherby road 

Harland Way cycle route: Spofforth

There are parking spaces near Spofforth Castle.

Parking spaces near Spofforth Castle

There's a local shop in Spofforth, next door to the Castle pub.

Spofforth local shop  Spofforth castle pub

The ruins of Spofforth Castle are a feature of the village. 

Spofforth castle and castle field  Spofforth Castle

It dates from Norman times. William de Percy was a Norman noble, who was favoured by William the Conqueror. Percy built a manor house here in the C11th, after the Norman Conquest of 1066. It is said that rebel barons drew up the Magna Carta here in 1215.

The manor house was fortified in the 1300s. In 1461, during the Wars of the Roses, it was burnt down, and lay in ruins until 1559, when it was restored by Henry, Lord Percy.

The castle was again reduced to ruins in the 1600s, during the English civil war. It was given to the state in 1924, and now belongs to English Heritage. It's free to visit, and makes a nice place for a picnic on a sunny day.

Harland Way cycle route: cycling to Spofforth from Harrogate

Sign to Spofforth on Showground Greenway

Spofforth is now signposted from the Yorkshire Showground Greenway in Harrogate. Cycling towards Sainsburys on the Greenway, you turn off to the right, go past the Travllers Rest pub on Crimple Lane (see OpenStreetMap). At the T junction, a right turn on Rudding Lane takes you to the A658, which you cross to continue to Follifoot and Spofforth on Pannal Road/Spofforth Lane.

Travellers Rest pub, Crimple Lane  Crimple Lane, Harrogate

Harland Way cycle route: comments and suggestions

1) Extend the route! It's been more than 20 years since the Harland Way was built. According to Sustrans, it's supposed to be part of a Harrogate to York cycle route. There should be a Harrogate to York route. With the increasing popularity of cycling, and the current problems of congestion, pollution, and obesity, there's never been a better time to provide more and better facilities. So let's not wait any longer.

I realise it needs money and permissions, and it's not as easy as snapping your fingers and it's done, but surely this should now be a priority, not just for Sustrans, but for local authorities.

2) Improve the path surface. A compact gravel surface immediately excludes a large number of bikes. The goal should be to make cycling as convenient as possible for as many people as possible, and people shouldn't have to buy a second bike in order to ride this path. I realise tarmacking the surface costs money.

3) Some of the barriers are awkward to negotiate. I find that the handlebars of my bike won't fit in the narrow gap in many of them. I believe that they are designed to keep motorbikes out, which is of course a legitimate aim, but it might be worthwhile to see if all the barriers are necessary, and whether the width of the gaps could be increased.

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