Yorkshire cycling website


Côte de Lofthouse road cycling route

View from the top of the Côte de Lofthouse

View from the top of the Côte de Lofthouse, by Hedgehog Cycling

This circular road cycling route starts in Harrogate, and heads via Ripley and Brimham Rocks to Pateley Bridge. From there, it continues north alongside Gouthwaite reservoir to Lofthouse, and climbs the Côte de Lofthouse. Then the loop goes on via Leighton reservoir, Fearby, Swinton, Grewelthorpe, and Kirkby Malzeard, before returning by Galphay, Studley Royal deer park, and Ripley, to Harrogate.

The distance is about 60 miles.

This ride is on quiet roads. The main climb from Lofthouse is steep; at the top, there are great views towards the North York Moors.

Côte de Lofthouse road cycling route: map

The Ordnance Survey Explorer map which covers most of the ride is 298 Nidderdale (and it includes a digital download of the map to your smartphone):

The map which covers the southernmost section is 297, and the northern tip of the ride is on 302.

This is a Google map of the route from, and back to, the cricket ground in Harrogate:

Côte de Lofthouse: route description and photos

Nidd viaduct near Bilton

The Nidd viaduct, on the route of the Nidderdale Greenway, by Hedgehog Cycling

I started the route at Harrogate cricket ground, and took the Nidderdale Greenway to Ripley. As the Greenway is a shared use path, it has to be ridden with respect for people on foot, and giving plenty of time and space to dog walkers. An alternative is the busy main Ripon road, the A61.

From Ripley, take the extension of the Nidderdale Greenway, Hollybank Lane. Turn right at the top on Clint Bank Lane, and right again on Clint Bank. This brings you to the B6165 at the New Inn. Turn left, then at the far end of Burnt Yates, fork left on Brimham Rocks Road.

Brimham Rocks Road

Brimham Rocks Road, by Hedgehog Cycling

If you're at Brimham early in the morning, you might see roe deer.

Roe deer near Brimham Rocks

Roe deer near Brimham Rocks, by Hedgehog Cycling

At the junction with Hartwith Bank, go straight on. There's a steep descent to Smelthouses. There were a lot of goldfinches in the hedges when I rode the route, and farm animals in the fields either side, including some rather fine hens.

Hen near Smelthouses

Hens near Smelthouses, by Hedgehog Cycling

The route joins the B6165 at Wilsill. This isn't a very cycle-friendly road, so my route turns left off it as soon as possible, in Glasshouses. (Ignore a blue cycling sign which points straight on). This is a photo of the junction where you turn left:

Left turn in Glasshouses

Left turn in Glasshouses, by Hedgehog Cycling

In Glasshouses, you cross the Nidd, then veer right along a quiet country road which takes you past Bewerley Outdoor Centre. After two right forks, you arrive opposite the Royal Oak in Pateley Bridge.

Royal Oak, Pateley Bridge

Royal Oak, Pateley Bridge, by Hedgehog Cycling

Turn right, then after a few metres left on Low Wath Road, which follows the Nidd upstream. Pass the Bridge Inn, which has a fine old waterwheel.

Bridge Inn, near Pateley Bridge

Bridge Inn, near Pateley Bridge, by Hedgehog Cycling

The road continues to Gouthwaite reservoir, and along the west side of the water.

Gouthwaite reservoir

Gouthwaite reservoir, by Hedgehog Cycling

The road is quite quiet, but not traffic-free. When I rode it early on a Sunday morning, there were lots of animals which had been killed by cars - rabbits, hedgehogs, and pheasants - which suggests that people drive it too fast.

Junction in Lofthouse

Junction in Lofthouse, by Hedgehog Cycling

At the Lofthouse turn, there's a WC, with a sink and tap which would provide a refill for your bottle. (Frustratingly, because of the way the small sink is positioned, there isn't quite space to get a bottle under the tap! You could cup your hands and get water into your bottle that way). Other facilities include a defibrilator, and a postbox in case you need to write and ask for help before the Côte de Lofthouse climb.

WC in Lofthouse

WC in Lofthouse, by Hedgehog Cycling

Turning right up the hill, you go through the village of Lofthouse to start with, and a yellow and blue bike indicates that this was part of the route of Stage 2 of the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire.

Tour de Yorkshire bike decoration, Lofthouse

Tour de Yorkshire bike, Lofthouse, by Hedgehog Cycling

Côte de Lofthouse

Now comes the main climb on this route, the Côte de Lofthouse. Like Hollywood, it has its own sign.

Côte de Lofthouse sign

Côte de Lofthouse sign, by Hedgehog Cycling

The ascent doesn't go on all that long, just a kilometre or two of steep, but it is a painful gradient. I wished I had another gear to change down to. If anyone asked me, I would advise them to take it as steady as possible without grinding to a complete halt, then accelerate near the top if they had anything left. 

This photo of the road up from Lofthouse (actually called Trapping Hill) doesn't make it look as steep as it felt when I was riding it:

Côte de Lofthouse

Côte de Lofthouse, by Hedgehog Cycling

The height above sea level at the top is 429m. There's a nice view towards the North York Moors (see main photo at the top of the page).

It's a fast descent (be careful on the steepest sections). This is looking back up at the descent from near the bottom:

Pott Moor, near Lofthouse

Pott Moor, near Lofthouse, by Hedgehog Cycling

You reach Leighton reservoir.

Leighton reservoir

Leighton reservoir, by Hedgehog Cycling

A bridge takes you over the a stream which flows into the reservoir, Grimes Gill.

Grimes Gill flows into Leighton reservoir

Grimes Gill flows into Leighton reservoir, by Hedgehog Cycling

The route continues on a pleasant road over the river Burn, and through the villages of Healey and Fearby. At the far end of Fearby, turn right, and cross the Burn again. You go around the edge of Swinton Park, past a side entrance and the main entrance. (Swinton Park looks great in many ways, and offers hotel rooms, glamping, a cookery school, and spa. They are also involved in pheasant and grouse shooting, and something called 'duck flighting' which seems to be shooting ducks. Not everyone agrees with shooting as a sport, particularly the killing of predators to facilitate it. I find the killing of wildlife in this way unnecessary and demoralising).

Swinton Park

Swinton Park, by Hedgehog Cycling

After passing the main entrance to Swinton Park, take the next left. (The turn isn't signed at all). A right turn at the following junction brings you to Grewelthorpe. There's a right turn in Grewelthorpe, to Kirkby Malzeard, but it's worth going a few metres past the turn to Grewelthorpe Village Hall's Hackfall Café. I found that there was a friendly welcome, nice coffee and homemade cakes, a couple of tables outside in the front garden, and reasonable prices. I recommend it. 

Hackfall Café, Grewelthorpe Village Hall

Hackfall Café, Grewelthorpe Village Hall, by Hedgehog Cycling

From Grewelthorpe, quiet roads take you to Kirkby Malzeard then Galphay. A few miles past Galphay, you reach the B6265. Turn right on this quite busy road, then left off it to Studley Roger. There's now a ride through the Studley Royal deer park.

Entrance to Studley Royal deer park

Entrance to Studley Royal deer park, by Hedgehog Cycling

At the top of the deer park, go through the gate and turn left, then straight on at the roundabout, and left at the next junction. A steep drop down the hill takes you past the West Gate of Fountains Abbey; then turn left up the hill on Fountains Lane, which turns into How Hill Road, then Watergate Road. There are sometimes brown hares in the fields here.

Hare near How Hill Road

Hare near How Hill Road, by Hedgehog Cycling

At the top of Watergate Road, turn left on Fountains Abbey Road, which brings you to the B6165. A short distance along the (quite busy) B6165, and you get to Ripley. Return to Harrogate the way you came, on the Nidderdale Greenway.

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Harrogate, Ripley, Brimham Rocks, Dallow Moor, & Studley Royal route

Boundary stone, Dallow Moor

This 43-mile route north of Harrogate is on quiet roads, and takes in some stunning countryside along the way. It heads past Brimham Rocks, up onto Dallow Moor, and through the village of Galphay (where the Galphay Inn makes an ideal stop). It then continues through Studley Royal Deer Park, before returning to Ripley and Harrogate. Read Hedgehog's guide to the Harrogate, Ripley, Brimham Rocks, Dallow Moor, Galphay, & Studley Royal road cycling route.

Studley Royal

Red deer, Studley Royal

Red deer, Studley Royal, by Hedgehog Cycling

Studley Royal Park includes the ruins of Fountains Abbey (founded by Cistercian monks in 1132; you pay an entrance fee to visit Fountains Abbey, but Studley Royal Deer Park is free).

Fountains Abbey & Fountains Hall

Fountains Abbey

Fountains Abbey, by Hedgehog Cycling

Fountains Abbey was founded in 1132 as a Cistercian monastery.

At the time of the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII (1539), the Abbey buildings and adjacent land were sold to Sir Richard Gresham. Later, Stephen Proctor bought them, and he built Fountains Hall between 1598 and 1604.

Fountains Hall

Fountains Hall, by Hedgehog Cycling

Studley estate

Stag in Studley deer park

Stag in Studley deer park

The Mallory family lived at Studley Royal from 1452. John Aislabie inherited the estate in 1693. He was involved in the South Sea Company, which failed disastrously, and after that, he devoted himself to the garden at Studley Royal. His son William united Studley Royal and Fountains by buying Fountains Abbey and Hall in 1742. (The Water Garden created by John and William Aislabie is in the paying part of the estate).

Studley Royal House burned down in 1946, but a large stable block (which dates from 1728-32) survived, and is now a private house.

The whole estate was bought by West Riding County Council in 1966, and by the National Trust in 1983.

Gouthwaite reservoir Cote de LofthouseBrown hare