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Harrogate, Beckwithshaw, Bland Hill, Swinsty reservoir, Penny Pot Lane road cycling route

Swinsty reservoir

Swinsty reservoir, by Hedgehog Cycling

This is a 17-mile road cycling route starting in Harrogate, and heading into the countryside to the west. It goes via Beckwithshaw, takes Norwood Lane to Stainburn Moor, Broad Dubb Road to Bland Hill, then continues to Swinsty reservoir. The return route is on Penny Pot Lane.

It's a ride in lovely countryside, which has just enough gradient in it to make it interesting. The prevailing westerly wind is on your back on the way home. My main reservation concerns Penny Pot Lane, which is a narrow, straight, national speed limit road with a rough surface, where you can experience poor overtakes. As a result, the route is fine to ride on a Sunday morning, and better avoided on Friday afternoon.

Harrogate, Beckwithshaw, Bland Hill, Swinsty reservoir, Penny Pot Lane road cycling route: map

The Ordnance Survey map which covers the area is Lower Wharfedale & Washburn Valley (which includes a digital version of the map via the OS smartphone app):

This is a Google map of the route:

Harrogate, Beckwithshaw, Bland Hill, Swinsty reservoir, Penny Pot Lane road cycling route: route description and photos

Harrogate Cricket Club

Harrogate Cricket Club, by Hedgehog Cycling

I've taken Harrogate Cricket Club as the start of the route, on the basis that it's as good as anywhere else. Starting from there, you take St George's Road and Blenheim Way, then the path which runs between the old BT site and Rossett nature reserve. Where the path meets Rossett Drive, turn right, continue on Richmond Avenue, then turn left up Pannal Ash Road. At the roundabout, it's the third exit - straight on, on Whinney Lane. This takes you out into the countryside, and past the Squinting Cat pub.

At the T-junction at the end of Whinney Lane, turn right on Lady Lane, and continue via Quarry Road and Howhill Road. This brings you to the fairly busy B6162 Otley Road, and you turn left onto it, and do just a short stretch of it to Beckwithshaw. Turn left to go through Beckwithshaw, then after the village, there's a right turn up Norwood Lane, which is relatively quiet.

Cyclist on Norwood Lane

Cyclist on Norwood Lane, by Hedgehog Cycling

Norwood Lane is a drag uphill, with views of Knabs Ridge wind turbines to the right.

Knabs Ridge wind turbines from Norwood Lane

Knabs Ridge wind turbines from Norwood Lane, by Hedgehog Cycling

At the top of Norwood Lane, you pass the Stainburn Moor car park on the left, then the rocks of Little Alms Cliff.

Little Alms Cliff

Little Alms Cliff, by Hedgehog Cycling

Now you're on to Broad Dubb Road, which begins with a sweeping descent.

Broad Dubb Road

Broad Dubb Road, by Hedgehog Cycling

Broad Dubb Road leads to the hamlet of Bland Hill, and a T-junction with the B6451. Turn right, and very soon after, left down Smithson's Lane to Swinsty reservoir. The road crosses a bridge over an inlet of Swinsty reservoir.

Bridge across Swinsty reservoir inlet

Bridge across inlet of Swinsty reservoir, by Hedgehog Cycling

Leaving Swinsty reservoir, the road goes uphill through the woods, past Washburn Heritage Centre at Fewston church. Take the first right, then turn right again on Wydra Lane, which crosses Spinksburn Beck. A short uphill stretch takes you to a T-junction with the B6451. Turn left on the B6451 for a couple of hundred metres, then right on Penny Pot Lane.

Knabs Ridge wind turbines from Penny Pot Lane

Penny Pot Lane, by Hedgehog Cycling

As you pass the Knabs Ridge wind turbines on the left, you can see exactly which direction the wind is coming from, by their orientation. It's worth being alert on Penny Pot Lane, which is used by some drivers as an alternative to the A59; traffic has also been generated by the opening of the West Harrogate household waste recycling centre. Many vehicles get up a lot of speed, so be aware of them, and how they are overtaking you. (North Yorkshire County Council should reduce the speed limit on this road).

You pass the Uniacke Barracks on the right, and the Hildebrand Barracks on the left, then reach a roundabout where Penny Pot Lane meets Oaker Bank. Go straight across, past a housing development on the left, and steeply down to Oak Beck. It's then steeply uphill on Cornwall Road, which becomes Harlow Moor Road, and passes the Pinewoods.

I've completed the circuit by turning left down the busy B6162 Otley Road, then right on Park Avenue, alongside the Oval Gardens, and up a very short section of St George's Road to get back to Harrogate Cricket Ground.

If you start and finish at the Cricket Club in Harrogate, this ride is about 17.5 miles.

If you do the Harrogate, Beckwithshaw, Bland Hill, Swinsty reservoir, and Penny Pot Lane route, please let me know what you think of the route and this guide.

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Fewston, Beecroft, & Timble bike trail

Gill Beck, Timble

Yorkshire Water has created a bike trail near Fewston reservoir. It runs from Swinsty Moor Plantation car park, through Beecroft Moor Plantation, across Rue's Lane, and up to Timble Woods; round a loop in Timble Woods, down Rue's Lane, and back through Beecroft Moor Plantation to the car park. Read about the Fewston, Beecroft, Timble woods, & Swinsty bike trail.

Penny Pot Lane loop

Scargill reservoir

This is a slightly different (older) version of the Harrogate, Beckwithshaw, Bland Hill, Swinsty reservoir, Penny Pot Lane route, starting with Penny Pot Lane, and going anti-clockwise. I have more or less given up on it, because I don't like cycling uphill on Penny Pot Lane - you go slower uphill, so you get overtaken more often, and the speed differential with vehicles is greater than when going down Penny Pot.

Nevertheless, it could be nice to reverse the direction every now and then, especially at a quiet time.

Read about the Penny Pot Lane loop.

Knabs Ridge from Norwood Lane Little Alms CliffSwinsty reservoir

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