Yorkshire cycling website
The Nidd Gorge and Nidderdale Greenway are under threat from a highly damaging and irresponsible proposal by North Yorkshire County Council to degrade the area by building a bypass road misleadingly called Harrogate relief road - a road which will not reduce congestion, but exacerbate it. Read about the irresponsible Harrogate relief road proposal and help stop this unwanted development.
The Nidderdale Greenway is a cycleway that runs from Harrogate to Ripley, a distance of about 4 miles. It has been extended along Hollybank Lane, and may eventually go as far as Pateley Bridge. It follows the route of a dismantled railway (the Leeds to Northallerton railway, which closed in 1969), so it's largely flat. It officially opened on 25th May 2013.
The route is shared by cyclists, walkers (including dog walkers), joggers, and horse riders. Signs ask cyclists to use their bells when necessary, to slow down when passing walkers, and to be particularly careful of dogs, which do not have road/bike sense. Walkers are asked not to block the path, and to keep their dogs under control. The route is well-used by cyclists and walkers, and it is possible to share without too much hardship. It would a great shame to exclude either group from this nice route. So whether you're walking or cycling, it's important to be considerate to other Greenway users, and polite and friendly.
The Greenway is definitely suitable for children and less confident cyclists. It's a good place to learn to ride a bike away from traffic.
People who use the Nidderdale Greenway may be interested to read Common Ground, by Rob Cowen - a fascinating book, based on the author's in-depth exploration of the 'edge land' bounded by the Greenway and the river Nidd.
The route from the bottom of Claro Road, Harrogate, to Ripley, is shown in green on the Google map above, and the Hollybank Lane extension is shown in blue.
In High Harrogate, at the end of Grove Park Avenue, you'll find a footbridge over the railway. Go over the footbridge, and turn right at the far end. (If you're starting from somewhere else in Harrogate, or from the Ripley end of the Nidderdale Greenway, see Getting to the Nidderdale Greenway.)
After a short distance, there's a fork in the path (now signposted). The left fork goes into Bilton, and is signposted 'Knox Mill Lane'. Take the right fork for the Nidderdale Greenway.
This first section tends to be the busiest, because it runs past Bilton. There are more walkers/dog walkers here than there are from the Nidd viaduct on, so if you're on a bike, you have to moderate your speed.
A short way along the cycleway, you come to a junction, where there's a right turn to Starbeck. This route to Starbeck is also along a dismantled railway, and it was re-surfaced in late 2015 or early 2016 so that it is all good quality, and suitable for all types of bike.
Soon after the Starbeck turn, the Greenway crosses a road, Bilton Lane. (Take care: although it's a quiet road, there is some traffic, so don't shoot across without looking). One of the schemes in Harrogate's Cycling Delivery Plan is to install a raised/ramped junction surface here, to better denote shared space.
If you turned right here, you'd go to Old Bilton, Bilton Village Farm, then onto the Beryl Burton cycleway to Knaresborough. To continue on the Nidderdale Greenway, cross Bilton Lane (there's an information board on the other side of the road), and go straight on.
After a short distance, there's a bench on the left. The people illustrated in the iron sculptures are Malcolm Margolis, a Harrogate cyclist and co-founder of Wheel Easy, and Keith Wilkinson, a founder member of Bilton Conservation Group. The third character is a child from Harrogate, representing future generations of local people. There's a Sustrans leaflet explaining the portrait bench. Malcolm Margolis gave a speech at the opening of the Nidderdale Greenway and unveiling of the bench, in May 2013.
Red kites can sometimes be seen here.
It's about another kilometre from the junction with Bilton Lane to the Nidd Viaduct. The path is at its widest here, and there are spectacular views over the sides.
In his book Common Ground, Rob Cowen recounts the building of the Nidd Viaduct by the Leeds & Thirsk Railway Company in 1846-7. When he first visits (before the Nidderdale Greenway existed), he says of it: 'Unneeded, unnoticed, I found it shut-off, shackled and destitute, left to the plumes of dead Oxford ragwort and buddleia that bristled from its cracks...to me the viaduct's scale and size seemed extraordinary, so too the sense of rectitude, the way the arches reflected nobly, silently in the river.'
I agree with Rob Cowen - it's a jolly nice bridge, and I'm chuffed to bits that it's now being used and enjoyed once again.
There's now a scenic stretch, past Viaduct Wood (on the left), with nice views across wheat fields to Nidd Moor Farm (on the right). There are a couple of buildings on the left, at Holme Bottom, and views of Killinghall beyond.
The route passes through Sig's Wood, just before a fork in the path. (The right fork isn't open or walkable/cycleable, but it's the trackbed of the old railway line to Ripon. How fantastic would it be to have a walking and cycling route to Ripon?)
After Sig's Wood, there's a stretch with open fields on either side, then comes Coronation Wood, then Limekiln Wood. There are bluebells and wild garlic in these woods.
At Limekiln Wood, the path descends slightly, and runs very close to the river Nidd.
It then goes up, and meets the road.
Where the cycle path ends, turn right up to the A61. There's a pedestrian/cyclist crossing, which often takes a ridiculous amount of time to change. At crossings, North Yorkshire County Council prioritise vehicles, and if you're on a bike or on foot, you wait ages. This is a very bad policy, which does not encourage people who are doing the right thing and using sustainable transport. It should be changed immediately.
On the other side of the crossing is a path that takes you past a monument built (just!) in time for the Tour de France 2014 by a dry stone waller.
The path continues a short distance across a field to Ripley.
You cycle through the car park to the centre of the village.
There's cycle parking outside the Boar's Head pub (Sheffield stands on the cobbles) and outside the tea rooms.
This video of the Nidderdale Greenway shows the route in about 4 minutes:
These are some photos of the Nidderdale Greenway and Ripley, from my Flickr page (toggle right and left to see the pictures).
Ripley is dominated by its castle, which has been there since the 1400s, the home of the Ingilby family for 700 years. The present owner is Sir Thomas Ingilby. The grounds, lakes, and the village are all on the Ripley Castle estate.
Ripley Castle is open for guided tours, and/or you can visit the gardens and deerpark. See Visitor Information for opening times and prices. Ripley Castle can also be booked for weddings and corporate events.
The gardens have ornamental lakes (the Ripley lakes).
The village is part of the Ripley Castle estate. It was torn down and re-built between 1827 and 1854, in the style of villages in Alsace that Sir William Amcotts-Ingilby had seen while travelling. Read more about Ripley.
There are various ways of joining the Nidderdale Greenway, depending where you're starting from. Since early 2015, they are much better signposted.
From Harrogate station, go via East Parade (a cycle route in dire need of improvement) to Asda. This route is shown in yellow on the map above. The Dragon cycleway begins at Asda car park, and takes you to Grove Park Avenue and the start of the Nidderdale Greenway there. The route is shown in olive green on the map.
Asda car park entrance
The Dragon cycleway:
The cycleway follows the railway, then ends where it meets Grove Park Avenue.
Dragon cycleway ends at Grove Park Avenue
You'll see Harrogate Self Storage here.
Turn left down Grove Park Avenue, then take the footbridge over the railway, and follow the main Nidderdale Greenway directions above.
There is a good route to the Nidderdale Greenway from the Stray via Slingsby Walk and Claro Road. It is shown in orange on the map.
Slingsby Walk is a good shared cycle and walking path across the Stray. Cross the busy A661 Wetherby Rd (which can take a long time - there should be a crossing, but there isn't) and the A59 Knaresborough Rd, cycle along Granby Rd, then use a shared path as far as Claro Rd. Since early 2015, there are good blue cycling signs to help. Go down Claro Rd, which is fairly quiet, until the bend in the road, where Claro Way branches off to the left. After a very short distance on Claro Way, an alley off to the left (now signposted) takes you to the footbridge over the railway and the start of the Nidderdale Greenway.
Signs on Claro Way down the alley to the Nidderdale Greenway
From Starbeck, take The Avenue and the cycleway and footpath from the end of it, which is along the trackbed of a dismantled railway. It joins the Nidderdale Greenway just before Bilton Lane. The route is shown in purple on the map.
Cycle path from Starbeck to Nidderdale Greenway
From Knaresborough, the Beryl Burton cycleway goes from the river Nidd at High Bridge to Bilton Lane. Bilton Lane crosses the Nidderdale Greenway near Old Bilton. This route is shown on the map in red.
At the Ripley end, the Greenway starts through the main car park. Follow the tarmacked path through the middle of the car park, and go through the gate and over the cattle grid at the far end, then continue on the path through the field, to the A61 crossing.
Path through Ripley car park to the Nidderdale Greenway
In spring 2014, an extension of the Greenway through Hollybank wood opened. It is shown in blue on the map.
Start of the Nidderdale Greenway extension
Turn left off Main Street, Ripley, passing between the castle and the church, then carry straight on, past a gate and onto the public bridleway. A short distance further on, there are nice views of the castle and lake.
After the main Nidderdale Greenway, which is railway-flat, it might come as a shock to have climb a hill on the extension through Hollybank wood. At the end of the walking and cycle path, there's a gate, and you can continue along Hollybank Lane, which is now a very quiet country road.
Hollybank Lane brings you out at Clint.
From here, you can turn left down to Hampsthwaite (where there's a pub, and tearooms); turn right, following the signs towards Fountains Abbey (but on rather busier roads now); or return the way you came to Ripley.
It is planned to extend the cycleway to Pateley Bridge - which is where the dismantled railway went - eventually. This extension is mentioned in a list of schemes as part of Harrogate's proposed Cycling Delivery Plan. A branch of the railway also went to Ripon, and the trackbed is still there. Read about the possible extensions of the Nidderdale Greenway to Pateley Bridge and Ripon.
The Nidderdale Greenway runs through a lovely area of countryside, with woods, open fields, hedges and gorse bushes, and the Nidd Gorge. Plenty of wildlife lives here. I've seen stoats shooting out of the undergrowth onto the path. There are red kites near the Nidd Viaduct. Yellow hammers are among the birds that like the gorse bushes and hedges near Holme Bottom.
Yellow hammer near Holme Bottom
The combination of cover and open ground seems to make the Greenway perfect habitat for blackbirds. This one was eating wild cherries in July 2018.
Blackbird eating a cherry by the Nidderdale Greenway
Improvements have been made, particularly to signposting, in early 2015, thanks to the good work of Harrogate Cycle Action, Harrogate Borough Council's cycling champion Rebecca Burnett, and North Yorkshire County Council. This includes the signposting of access to the Greenway via Claro Road, and signposting the fork in the cycleway (Bilton left, Nidderdale Greenway right), shortly after the footbridge over the railway.
Extra cycle parking has been added in Ripley, with Sheffield stands on the cobbles in the centre of the village, in front of the Boar's Head. This is great.
Sheffield stands in front of the Boar's Head, Ripley
It would be helpful to widen the Greenway. This is most needed on the stretch between the railway bridge and Bilton Lane, and from Bilton Lane to the field a short way further up the Greenway towards the Nidd viaduct. These sections are well-used by people walking their dogs. They tend to be the busiest parts of the Greenway, and would benefit from some extra width.
It would be fantastic if the Greenway could be extended. How brilliant would it be to be able to cycle on a traffic-free (but tarmacked) surface from Harrogate to Pateley Bridge? Then you could go on and do a ride on quiet roads in the Yorkshire Dales, without having to worry about being intimidated by vehicles on the way to Pateley Bridge.
And if the old line to Ripon could be opened up as a greenway, to link to the Nidderdale Greenway, we'd have the beginning of a genuinely good quality sustainable transport network, which could be used by utility cyclists as well as for recreation.
Do you have any more comments or suggestions?
The Beryl Burton cycleway is a traffic-free footpath and cycleway between Bilton Village Farm and the river Nidd at High Bridge, Knaresborough. It's named after Beryl Burton, the racing cyclist from Leeds. Read more about the Beryl Burton cycleway.
The Nidderdale Greenway and the Nidd Gorge are under threat from a damaging proposal by North Yorkshire County Council to build a bypass (or so-called relief road).
NYCC's suggested solution to congestion in Harrogate in Knaresborough is to build another road, which will encourage yet more traffic onto the roads, and exacerbate the problem. In the meantime, they will have destroyed or degraded much-loved countryside.
10th July 2016
I was out for a Sunday morning ride, and when passing a dog-walker,
apparently in a civilised and amicable fashion, he growled 'gerra
bell' at me, even though I had a bell and I'd used it. What lessons
can be learned from this encounter (or are there no useful
conclusions which can be drawn)? Read about gerra
bell - an encounter on the Nidderdale Greenway.
10th September 2015
There is a large amount of mud and stones on a section of the Nidderdale Greenway, where a tractor has been driving along it, churning up muck from the side. It is on the Ripley side of the Nidd viaduct, near Holme Bottom, and has been there since (from memory) mid-July.
Initially, it was only on a stretch north of Holme Bottom. I was hoping it would soon be swept away. Not only has that not happened, but another stretch south of Holme Bottom has now been covered in mud and stones.
It makes the path difficult to ride with a road bike, there's a risk of punctures, and everyone is forced onto the narrow section of path furthest from the tractor tracks, with the least mud on it, making it awkward to pass other Greenway users.
11th June 2015
Various improvements to the Nidderdale Greenway are included in Harrogate's list of proposed schemes as part of its draft Cycling Delivery Plan. The path could be widened from 2 to 3m, due to the large number of users; as mentioned above, it could be extended as far as Patelely Bridge; and there's a plan to link the Greenway to Killinghall.
14th April 2014
The Harrogate Advertiser reports that there are problems with parking for the Nidderdale Greenway at Bilton Lane. The car park there only has six spaces, which leads to many vehicles (up to 30 cars) parking on the side of the lane. As the lane is narrow, this is dangerous, because it forces pedestrians into the road.
Bilton Conservation Group is calling for the car park to be extended by 15m. The Nidderdale Greenway Steering Group says that visitors should instead be encouraged to walk or cycle to the Greenway.
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