This cycle route, which is Stage 8 of the Sustrans Slow Tour of Yorkshire, starts in the centre of York and heads north west to Beningbrough Hall, and C18th National Trust house. It's on paths and quiet roads, there are views Ouse, and the destination is interesting and has more than one option for coffee and cakes.
The distance is 15.5km or 9.5 miles from York to Beningbrough. Normally you would do it there and back, which is a total of 31km or 19 miles.
The map above shows the route from York to Beningbrough Hall in yellow. I've also mapped the ride on Plotaroute, where you can download files for a GPS device.
Sustrans have a leaflet with an overview of the York to Beningbrough route.
This video (with speeded-up footage in places) shows the ride in just over 2 minutes:
From York Railway Station (where you may start if you're bringing a bike on the train, or hiring a bike on arrival at Cycle Heaven), turn left on Station Road, which becomes Station Avenue. Continue to the Ouse via Tanner's Moat. Turn left and ride upstream with the river on your right, as far as Scarborough Bridge.
If you prefer, there's a direct link from the railway station onto Scarborough Bridge - the route shown in orange on the Google map.
Either way, cross the river on Scarborough Bridge, which has now been re-modelled to include cycle ramps.
If you start from the north side of the river at Lendal Bridge, you can follow Dame Judi Dench Walk along the river bank. The path is narrow until Lendal Bridge Landing, so if it's busy you may have to wheel your bike. The paving isn't smooth until Scarborough Bridge.
From Scarborough Bridge you're on a shared use path on the north side of the river, called Joseph Rowntree Walk. It's at its busiest near the city centre, and it gets quieter as you leave York behind.
You go under a road called Water End where it crosses the Ouse on Clifton Bridge. There's a sign to York's Youth Hostel, which is only a few mattress lengths away.
Next, there's a short wooded section, then you go over a little embankment and the path continues through a grassy area called Clifton Ings.
The path across Clifton Ings is barely a metre wide, so not even enough for two people going in opposite directions to pass easily.
Clifton Ings becomes Rawcliffe Ings. The bike track passes Rawcliffe Bar Country Park on the right, where there are a couple of pump tracks in Rawcliffe Bike Park. After passing Rawcliffe Bar, you go on a little detour around a road bridge pillar as the bike route ducks under the A1237 Ring Road.
On the far side of the Ring Road there are hedges that produce a crop of berries in late Autumn and Winter, and little patches of scrubby woodland which provide habitat for birds. On a December ride, I saw blackbirds, redwings, fieldfares, robins, long tailed tits and a tree creeper.
Next, the path veers away from the Ouse temporarily and you arrive at a junction which has a decorative York sign. The sign features (I think) York Minster, Walmgate Bar, Cliffords Tower, and the Yorkshire Museum. Let me know in the comments if you recognise more buildings.
At the sign, turn left on a little road (Rawcliffe Landing) that passes in front of a row of terraced houses. Continue on a path through woods by the river.
You then leave the Ouse, following a little beck; its less-than-charming name is Hurns Gutter.
There's a bench that incorporates old farm machinery around here, and some blue pipes that have been turned into an art installation, or a bug hotel, or maybe both.
A nice bridge takes you across Hurns Gutter.
The path ends where it meets Stripe Lane, near Skelton.
Turn left on this quiet road, and go under the railway.
You reach the small village of Overton. As an outsider passing through it appears to be an idyllic place to live, but wherever you live there are some issues - maybe the bins aren't collected often enough, or a resident peacock makes too much noise.
Immediately after Overton, there are views of open fields, then the road runs between high hedges. You'll encounter very little traffic. There's a bridge over the railway track, and you can see a sign that says 'Edinburgh 200 miles'. Unless that inspires you to head for Scotland, keep going to the next junction which is close to the A19.
Turn left at the junction, to steer away from the A19. There's now significantly more traffic, some of it travelling fast. You pass The Sidings, which offers accommodation in old railway carriageways, and has a restaurant and café (tea and coffee all day).
The road leads to the western edge of Shipton-by-Beningbrough. Here you turn left, over the railway again, on Shipton Low Road. There's still a fair bit of fast-moving traffic, until you turn left on Beningbrough Lane, when it's quiet once more.
When you reach the junction shown in the photo above, Beningbrough (the village) is to the left, but for Beningbrough (the Hall), go straight on to reach the entrance gate.
As you ride through the grounds, the Home Farm shop and café is on the left, with bike parking and - in Summer at least - a little kiosk called the Shepherd Hut, which sells tea, coffee, cake and ice cream to anyone who wants just a quick stop.
If you continue a little further, you come to a left turn up to the main Hall. The cycle parking is in the car park, right by the entrance to Beningbrough Hall. Cyclists used to be allowed to go in for half an hour for free and get a free cup of tea when buying a a biscuit or snack. That has now stopped, so there's an entrance fee unless you're a National Trust member.
Beningbrough Hall is one of eighteen bike rides in Bike Rides In and Around York.
There's a city tour of York by bike, family rides, road rides, and mountain bike rides.
The book is packed full of history, and there are lots of colour photos, including wildlife photography showing some of Yorkshire's spectacular animals and birds.
Available in paperback - find out more about Bike Rides In and Around York.
Clifton Ings is part of York's flood defences. This is flood washland, which means it can be used to hold several million cubic metres of water from the Ouse, to try to stop the City of York flooding.
There's a sluice gate in the embankment, which can be opened to let water onto Clifton Ings, closed to keep it there, then opened again to let water drain back into the river when the water subsides.
Beningbrough Hall is about 2 miles from Shipton-by-Beningbrough. It's a stately home, which was built by John Bourchier in 1716 in an Italian Baroque style, inspired by his European Grand Tour. It was occupied by the Royal Air Force during World War II, then the Royal Canadian Air Force.
Now it is owned by the National Trust. It displays paintings on loan from the National Portrait Gallery.
There are extensive grounds, with a ha-ha (sunken wall) to prevent livestock from entering the gardens. Those gardens are beautifully cared for and highly colourful. There's a café restaurant in them, called the Walled Garden.
Bike Rides in Harrogate and Nidderdale is now available in paperback - find out more.
1) The main improvement needed when I first wrote this guide was to make Scarborough Bridge accessible to bikes. Work took place to add ramps and widen the bridge, and it was completed in April 2019. This is a big improvement - well done York!
2) The path across Clifton Ings is too narrow, but maybe there are flood-related reasons why it is difficult to widen. In 2021, the Environment Agency are doing work at Clifton Ings which may involve a diversion to the route of the cycle path.