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Beryl Burton cycleway

Beryl Burton cycleway

The Beryl Burton cycleway is a traffic-free cycle and walking route from Bilton Village Farm to the Nidd at High Bridge, Knaresborough. It was developed by Sustrans, to enable cyclists to avoid using the very busy A59.

Beryl Burton cycleway: the route

From the Harrogate end, you can access the Beryl Burton cycleway via the Nidderdale Greenway and Bilton Lane. There's an overview of the Beryl Burton cycleway, the Nidderdale Greenway, and the Starbeck cycle path, on this map:

Map of Beryl Burton cycleway

From the Nidderdale Greenway, turn down Bilton Lane, past the Gardeners Arms (on your left on Bilton Lane). 

Gardener's Arms, Bilton Lane

The Gardener's Arms, by Hedgehog Cycling

You then go up the short hill to Bilton Village Farm. Here, a cycling sign indicates that you continue straight on, towards the Beryl Burton cycleway. At the time of writing (summer 2017), Bilton Lane is a wonderful, smooth ride, having recently been re-surfaced. Thanks to all involved for their persistence in finally getting this work done.

Beryl Burton cycleway

Beryl Burton sign near Bilton Village Farm, by Hedgehog Cycling

Bilton Lane is a private road, with traffic limited to access for residents. As a result, it's nice to cycle, and there are lots of birds in and around the hedges. If you're there early in the morning, you might even see roe deer in the fields either side of the lane.

Roe deer near Bilton Lane

Roe deer near Bilton Lane, by Hedgehog Cycling

After about a mile, you reach a junction with Bilton Hall Lane, close to Bilton Hall. Continue straight on, down the hill, along a path enclosed by fences/trees/hedges either side. This path is the Beryl Burton cycleway. It was resurfaced in autumn 2013

Beryl Burton cycleway near Bilton Hall

Horses graze in the fields on either side of the path.

Horses near the Beryl Burton cycleway

There's a small cattle grid by a blue bench, and after that, an open field to the right of the cycleway. 

Cattle grid on the Beryl Burton cycleway  

After the next small cattle grid, the path goes through the woods (quite steeply downhill here), and comes out by the Nidd. Turn right along the river, and after a short distance, you emerge onto the A59 where it crosses High Bridge, in Knaresborough.

Beryl Burton cycleway: extending your ride

There are some routes which can be done as an extension of the Beryl Burton route, or to make it a round trip.

Beryl Burton cycleway, extending your ride: bridleway from the Gardeners Arms

If you turn left just before the Gardeners Arms, there's a bridleway (so it can be used by cyclists) called Milner's Lane, which runs past fields and into the woods by the river Nidd. This is really a mountain biking route, with some steep hills, and wooden boarded sections. 

Bridleway from Old Bilton Bridleway across fields from Old Bilton Wooden boarded section of bridleway

After the Milner's Fork junction in the woods, you arrive at the river more or less opposite Scotton Mill. The Ordnance Survey map shows a ford to cross the river and continue on the bridleway on the other side of it, to Bar Farm. However, I couldn't see any crossing that would be practical for cyclists, so I turned round and came back the same way. The map shows the path alongside the Nidd, left towards the Nidd Viaduct, or right towards Knaresborough, as a 'recreational route', but I'm not clear whether that means that bikes are allowed there or not.

Milner's Fork  

Milner's Fork, by Hedgehog Cycling

Beryl Burton cycleway, extending your ride: Waterside and Abbey Road

World's End pub, High Bridge, Knaresborough

World's End pub, High Bridge, Knaresborough, by Hedgehog Cycling

When you arrive at High Bridge, Knaresborough, you can cross the bridge over the Nidd, and go to the other side of the A59, where there's a pub called the World's End. (The pub gets its name from a prophecy attributed to Mother Shipton, that if High Bridge 'is thrice fallen', the world shall end. It is only once fallen so far.) 

Tour de France garden, Knaresborough

Tour de France garden, Knaresborough, by Hedgehog Cycling

To the left of the World's End pub is a little Tour de France garden, with metal sculptures of racing cyclists.

To the right of the pub is a road called Waterside, which you can walk or cycle down. It has very little traffic, because it's filtered, so not a through road. This map shows Waterside, and its extension along the Nidd, Abbey Road:

Map of Waterside & Abbey Road, Knaresborough

There are sights, attractions, and cafés on Waterside.

Waterside: the Old Manor House

Waterside, Old Manor House, & railway viaduct, Knaresborough

Waterside, Old Manor House, and railway viaduct, Knaresborough, by Hedgehog Cycling

Going down Waterside, you pass the Old Manor House, which dates from 1208. It is said that when King John stayed at Knaresborough Castle, he used to go out hunting in Knaresborough Forest, leaving his retinue under a great oak tree by the river Nidd. When he came back, he would eat under the tree. Eventually, he had a hunting lodge built around the tree; the tree's trunk is still inside the house.

A mulberry tree planted around 1608 at the request of James I, who was trying to encourage the growth of a national silk industry, still thrives in the garden of the Old Manor House. It is a black mulberry, so it never supported silkworms, because they eat white mulberry.

Following the defeat of Royalist forces at Marston Moor (July 1644), Charles I signed a Treaty of Capitulation in the house, in the presence of Oliver Cromwell. Knaresborough Castle was besieged by Cromwell's Parliamentarians after Marston Moor. Cromwell stayed in the main bedroom of the Old Manor House during the siege. The castle garrison surrendered on 20th December 1644.

According to the Yorkshire Post, the house has had a small number of owners. It passed from the Crown to the church, and the Archbishop of York lived in it. It was given to the Roundell family, who owned it until the 1950s; it became a tea room, guest house, then restaurant; then it was bought and restored as a private residence in the 1990s.

The chequered black and white paintwork was done by a former owner who was a chess fan. Similar exterior paint has been applied to other Knaresborough buildings, including the entrance to Mother Shipton's cave.

Waterside: boat hire and cafés

Blenkhorn's boat hire, Knaresborough

Blenkhorn's boat hire, by Hedgehog Cycling

There are two rowing boat hire businesses on Waterside - Blenkhorn's Boats (red and green) before the Old Manor House and railway viaduct, and Marigold (blue and white boats) after the viaduct. Marigold is also a café, and there are two others on Waterside - the Black Mulberry, and the Riverside Café

Knaresborough from the castle

Waterside, Knaresborough, seen from the castle, by Hedgehog Cycling

Continuing along Waterside, you arrive at Low Bridge, Knaresborough, where there's a junction with the B6163 Bland's Hill.

Low Bridge, Knaresborough

Low Bridge, Knaresborough, by Hedgehog Cycling

Cross straight over the B6163 to continue by the river beyond Low Bridge, now on Abbey Road. Again, it's filtered, rather than a through road, which means it's great for walking or cycling. 

Abbey Road, Knaresborough, traffic filtering

Filtering system on Abbey Road, Knaresborough

There are some minor sights along Abbey Road, including the Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, the House in the Rock, and St Robert's cave.

Abbey Road: Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag

Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, Knaresborough

Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, by Hedgehog Cycling

The Chapel of Our Lady of the Crag, Knaresborough, is a little chapel built into the sandstone river cliff of the Nidd by John the Mason in 1408. It's open to the public on Sundays from 2 to 4pm.

Abbey Road: the House in the Rock

House in the Rock, Knaresborough

House in the Rock, Knaresborough, by Hedgehog Cycling

The House in the Rock (or Fort Montague) is higher up the river cliff than the chapel. It was built by Thomas Hill, a linen weaver, from 1770. Over 16 years, he dug out the rock of the cliff, from the foot at Abbey Road, to Crag Top, to create a split-level house. He used the stone extracted to build a front wall. The castellations were added later, and at that time, the dwelling was named Fort Montague at the request of the Duchess of Buccleugh, who had helped pay for it.

According to Knaresborough.co.uk, the house was open to visitors until 1994, and lived in by descendants of Thomas Hill until 1996. It may open again in the future.

Abbey Road: carved kingfisher

Kingfisher carved into tree stump, Abbey Road, Knaresborough

Kingfisher carved into a tree stump, Abbey Road, Knaresborough, by Hedgehog Cycling

Abbey Road: St Robert's cave

Further down Abbey Road, close to the junction with Wetherby Road, is St Robert's cave. Robert of Knaresborough (1160-1218) was a hermit who lived here. He was the son of Touk Flower, mayor of York, and he sought a life of solitude. Initially, he shared the cave by the Nidd with a knight who was hiding from King Richard I, but after the death of the king the knight left, and Robert had the cave to himself. Robert's favourite form of charity was to redeem men from prison.

Return to High Bridge by going back along Abbey Road and Waterside.

Beryl Burton cycleway, extending your ride: cycle path by the A59

Cycle path by A59 from Knaresborough

If you want to make a bit of a circuit, you can come back up the cycle path by the A59 from Knaresborough, as far as Harrogate golf club, then turn right on Bilton Hall Drive to return to the Beryl Burton cycleway. The route is shown on this map:

Map of A59, Bilton Hall Lane, & Beryl Burton cycleway

Cycle path by the A59 from Knaresborough: comments and suggestions

The cycle path by the A59 from Knaresborough is welcome, but could be improved in various ways. 

It doesn't start from High Bridge, Knaresborough, but from a little way further up. This means cyclists have to brave a section of this busy road - which in turn means it is doubtful whether it will attract people who find it too dangerous to cycle on the main road. 

Knaresborough Road cycle path gives way to the entrance to a farm field

Cycle path by Knaresborough Road gives way to the entrance to a farm field, by Hedgehog Cycling

Cyclists on the cycle path are asked to give way to traffic turning across it into private driveways - of the golf club, and a farm field. In case we didn't know already, this suggests that cyclists are regarded as the lowest priority on the roads. See my comments in the Hedge-blog

The cycle path works ok to make a bit of a circuit for anyone riding the Beryl Burton route for pleasure. However, presumably it is intended for utility cyclists, as a way of getting between Knaresborough and Starbeck and Harrogate. It works less well from this point of view, because it is not linked up. It doesn't quite start in Knaresborough, and it dumps you back onto the main road at Harrogate Golf Club. It is an isolated cycle facility, which is the big problem with too many cycle routes in the Harrogate area and in the UK. 

It does not start in Knaresborough, and it does not get you to Starbeck or Harrogate. More people will cycle if they know that they can get from their start point to their destination in safety and comfort. Isolated bits of cycle infrastructure do not achieve that. 

Bilton Hall Drive

Bilton Hall Drive, by Hedgehog Cycling

Where the cycle path ends at the golf club, there is a lack of appropriate signage. There should be a sign indicating that the Beryl Burton cycleway and the Nidderdale Greenway can be accessed by Bilton Hall Drive. As it is, there is a sign for a bridleway and cycleway pointing up the A59 towards Starbeck, but I do not understand what it relates to, as there doesn't appear to be any such bridleway there. 

Bridleway sign pointing away from Bilton Hall Drive

Sign pointing towards mystery bridleway, near the entrance to Bilton Hall Lane, by Hedgehog Cycling

Similarly, a bit further up the A59 towards Starbeck, there are cycle signs for Knaresborough and Starbeck, on a lamp post slightly set back from the junction of Forest Lane and the A59. I don't know of any cycle paths to which they could relate, and if they're suggesting that people just ride on the main A59, what's the point of them?

Forest Lane   Cycle signs on Forest Lane

Beryl Burton cycleway: who was Beryl Burton?

Beryl Burton

Beryl Burton, by Brian Townsley, Flickr, Licence CC BY 2.0

Beryl Burton (1937-1996) was one of Britain's best cyclists. She was born in Leeds, and lived in Morley for most of her life. She raced for Morley CC then Knaresborough CC. 

Beryl Burton won more than ninety domestic championships, and seven world titles - five individual pursuit world titles between 1959 and 1966, and the women's world road race title in 1960 and 1967. In 1967, she also set a 12-hour time trial record of 277.25 miles, which was better than the men's record until 1969. 

There's mention of her achievements in this Guardian article about the Tour de France coming to Harrogate, and a more in-depth article about her from Cycling Weekly.

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Nidderdale Greenway

Nidderdale Greenway

The Nidderdale Greenway is a cycleway that runs from Harrogate to Ripley, a distance of about 4 miles. It follows the route of a dismantled railway, so it's largely flat. 

Read about the Nidderdale Greenway.

Knaresborough

Train on the railway viaduct at Knaresborough

Knaresborough is a historic market town on the river Nidd, with a population of around 15,000. The ruins of Knaresborough Castle stand high above the river. The market place is at the heart of the town, and a market has been held every Wednesday since the year 1310. Down by the Nidd, there's rowing boat hire, and England's oldest tourist attraction, Mother Shipton's cave. Read about Knaresborough.

Mother Shipton's cave, Knaresborough Railway viaduct at KnaresboroughBlenkhorn's boat hire, Knaresborough

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