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Fewston, Beecroft, Timble woods, & Swinsty bike trail

Timble Gill Beck

Bike trail by Timble Gill Beck

Yorkshire Water has created a bike trail near Fewston reservoir. Starting from the car park in Swinsty Moor Plantation, it runs through the Beecroft Plantation, via a 'features area', and up to Timble woods. There's also a trail through the Swinsty Moor Plantation.

In Yorkshire Water's press release (10th September 2013), they said, 'A new and exciting mountain bike trail in North Yorkshire is now open to the public, offering riders of all abilities the opportunity to test and develop their riding skills. Yorkshire Water had spent approximately £20,000 to create the action-packed 1.2km route at its Beecroft Plantation, next to Fewston reservoir, near Harrogate.'

Most of the route can be done by anyone on any kind of mountain bike or hybrid. The 'features area' in the Beecroft Plantation (the 1.2km section referred to in the press release) requires a bit more mountain biking skill, as does the single track route through Timble woods. Both of these are optional.

Fewston, Beecroft, Timble woods, & Swinsty bike trail: map

The bike route is shown in brown on the OpenCycleMap that I've annotated:

Map of Fewston Beecroft Timble bike route

There is also a Yorkshire Water map (but several people have said it's not easy to read).

Fewston, Beecroft, Timble woods, & Swinsty bike trail: route notes

Parking

Car park at Swinsty Moor Plantation

Main car park at Swinsty Moor Plantation

Parking is at the car park on the edge of the Swinsty Moor Plantation, on the south side of Fewston Embankment (entrance marked P on the map). The car park has toilets, and in the summer, there's sometimes an ice cream van. There is a height barrier, so for vehicles with bikes on the roof, Yorkshire Water suggest their equestrian/cycle users' car park (entrance marked P2). Really, it's just one car park, divided by a fence, and with two entrances. The equestrian/cycle entrance is a few metres up North Lane towards Timble.

 Swinsty Moor plantation cyclists' car park

Equestrian/cycle users' car park entrance

The start of the bike route

Start of bike trail near Fewston reservoir

The start of the bike route

A footpath that goes round Fewston reservoir starts nearly opposite the entrance to the main car park. Footpaths have yellow waymarkers. Ignore the footpath.

Instead, for the bike route, turn left out of the car park (but not sharp left up North Lane). The road goes down into a dip. At the bottom of the dip, on the right hand side, is the start of the bike trail. There's no signpost, and as you can see from the photo, the entrance is discreet, not obvious. The bike trail has light blue waymarkers.

There's an information board and map near the start of the trail.

Beecroft Plantation bike trail information board

Information board

Initially, the bike path runs to the left of a dry stone wall, and quite close to the footpath around Fewston reservoir.

View of Fewston reservoir from bike trail

Fewston reservoir seen from bike trail

Features area

Entrance to 'features' area, Beecroft Plantation

Entrance to the features area

If you want to ride the 'features area', you have to turn left at the first junction (up a track along the edge of the Beecroft Plantation), and straight on (rather than right) at the second junction. Just before the track reaches the road, the entrance to the features area is on your right. Again, it's discreet rather than indicated with lights, music, and fireworks.

If you don't want to do the features area, the route through the woods (with two slightly different variants) is shown on the map. You'll pass the bottom of the features area, where it rejoins the main route. 

Beecroft bike trail, features zone exit

Bottom of the features area

Across Rues Lane

Rues Lane crossing

The crossing of Rues Lane

Just before you reach Rues Lane, there's a little right/left dogleg, off the track where it goes past a house which is being restored (July 2018), and into the woods. Cross Rues Lane, and on the other side of the road there's a gate and an information board. Go through the gate and follow the track, and you pass some beech trees on the right.

Beech trees in Timble woods

Beech trees after crossing Rues Lane

Gill Beck & Timble woods

Then the trail runs alongside Gill Beck for a time. It's a lovely little stream, and this is perhaps the most picturesque part of the ride.

Mountain bikers near Gill Beck

Riding by Gill Beck

Here, there are sections of the path with tree roots to negotiate, and sharp ups and downs. Leaving Gill Beck, you go past the bottom of the single track section. The main route is the right fork, and it's a track through Timble woods. It takes you round two sides of a square, uphill to Timble Ings.

Peacock butterfly

Peacock butterfly, Timble Ings

At Timble Ings, there are wildlife ponds which were created in 2006. An information board explains that the number of ponds in Britain has reduced dramatically over recent decades, and there has been a corresponding decline in species that rely on pond habitat. The ponds at Timble Ings are positively alive with frogs, toads, water boatmen, damselflies, dragonflies, and a whole lot more.

Damselfly

Damselfly, Timble Ings

There's an abundance of butterflies in the woods and meadows you pass through on this ride, but particularly around Timble Ings. In summer 2018, there are peacock butterflies in profusion. Credit where credit is due, whoever is managing this area at Yorkshire Water appears to be producing a landscape that's rich in wildlife.

From Timble Ings, it's nearly all downill. You emerge into the open, with the woods on your left.

Track on the edge of Timble woods

Track on the edge of Timble woods

The single track section or the easy way home

You can turn left down the single track section, back into the woods. It's quite technical, as there are tree roots and rocks to negotiate. 

Otherwise, continue straight on, on the main track, back to Rues Lane. Then, you can either turn left down Rues Lane, and ride back the way you came through the Beecroft Plantation (green arrows on the map); or go straight across Rues Lane, then after a short distance, fork right on a minor road to Timble (orange arrows on the map). The orange arrows are just to differentiate this route from the Rues Lane route, not to indicate that it's any more difficult.

Timble is a delightful, quiet village. House martins nest under the eaves of Robinsons Library. The swish Timble Inn is an option for a drink or lunch.

Timble Inn

From Timble, North Lane takes you back to the Swinsty Moor Plantation car park.

Fewston, Beecroft, Timble woods, & Swinsty bike trail: features area

Beecroft mountain bike features

The Yorkshire Water press release said of this 'features area', 'The course, which features bumps and jumps of varying degrees of difficulty - along with 'chicken runs' for those who want to avoid obstacles - was designed using input from local mountain bikers to ensure that there is something for everyone, regardless of their level of ability, and is part of the wider 9km cycle network in the Washburn Valley. What's more, it's completely free to use.'

Beecroft bike trail, rock features  Beecroft bike trail roller

There are rocks, rollers, and other features made from logs.

Beecroft mountain bike trail  Beecroft bike trail, log feature

Features area: video

This video from MTB Cycle Yorkshire shows mountain bikers on the features area in the Beecroft Plantation:

Fewston, Beecroft, Timble woods, & Swinsty bike trail: comments and suggestions

What do you think of the bike trail. Is there any way it could be improved? Have I missed something in this guide to the bike route?

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Start of Beecroft cycle route Timble Gill BeckBeecroft bike trail features

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