This guest post is written by Emma Young, Yorkshire mum and founder of the Child Friendly Bike Rides in Yorkshire Facebook group and regular contributor to Cycle Sprog, a family cycling website. Emma has shared with us her top picks for Yorkshire family bike rides from easy flat rides to slightly more challenging terrain for older bikers. Thank you so much Emma, what a fantastic resource for Yorkshire families!
As a mum who used to love cycling before having kids, I wanted to find some safe places I could go cycling with my children, the eldest who had now progressed from a balance bike to a pedal bike and a baby in a trailer. All the websites I had found would suggest family rides, but they always missed out the vital information about whether there were toilets or cafes enroute which are essential when you have little ones with you. Also whether there were any restrictions that would prevent you getting through with a bike trailer or whether the sections on ‘quiet roads’ were truly on quiet roads and how long you were on the road.
I started the Child Friendly Bike Rides in Yorkshire Facebook group in order to share the routes I had found with the information that parent’s would require as well as get recommendations from other parents. Below are our 10 favourite routes that we have found, starting off with the shortest flattest routes for the new riders to the longer more challenging routes that we have done with our eldest who is now nearly 6 years old.
Angler’s Country Park, Wakefield
If your kids love the book Room on the Broom, then they will love this trail, a flat 2 mile route around a reservoir with the motivation of finding the next character from the book.
If you are feeling more adventurous and want some more challenging terrain, you could try looking for the Pixie Village in Haw Park Wood next to Angler’s Country Park. This is accessible from the car park at Anglers Country Park down a ‘quiet road’ which is truly quiet. There is no set route just find your own route, there are various maps in the woods to help you find your way. We would recommend this for those with gears on their bikes as there are some climbs to do. For more information check out my full review on Cycle Sprog.
Wetherby Railway Path
This is another lovely, safe, flat 2.7 mile off road route for new riders from the village of Spofforth where there is a castle and lovely playground to the Town of Wetherby where there are plenty of cafés, however, the town is busy and you will have to walk your bikes into the town. For more information check out my full review of the Wetherby Railway Path on Cycle Sprog.
Harrogate to Ripley
This is a nice 4 mile ride from the outskirts of Harrogate to the lovely village of Ripley where there is a fantastic café with cycle parking outside as well as Ripley Castle if you want to make a day of it. However, you do have to negotiate a short section on road which is quiet at the end to get to the castle and café. We have ridden this with our four year old but if you are not feeling confident enough you could always ride this short section. There are also a couple of short climbs so would be more suited for those with gears. For more information check out my full review of the Harrogate to Ripley Cycleway on Cycle Sprog.
Anglers Country Park to Nostell Priory
This is a slightly longer route, around 9 miles, starting at Anglers Country Park which takes you to and through the grounds of Nostell Priory where they have developed a series of family cycle routes. We recommend going around the reservoir clockwise in order to spot the sign post for cycleway which deviates off the reservoir, we missed it when we went anticlockwise!. There is a couple of short sections along the A638 but there is a footway the children can cycle on.
The Solar System Route, York
If you are wanting to increase your mileage, this is a great flat 6.4 mile long scale model of the Solar System! We would recommend starting at the Pluto End at village of Riccal of the A19 south of York and head to the Sun on the outskirts of York. The different models of the planets on the route provide good motivation to make progress along the route. I think even the adults gained a real appreciation of the solar system after completing this ride.
For more information check out my full review of The Solar System Route on Cycle Sprog.
Spen Valley Greenway
A slightly more challenging ride is the Spen Valley Greenway a 7 mile disused railway line which has little single track sections off to the side of the main route where you can practice some off road skills There is also a series of sculptures to keep the kids interest. For more information check out my full review of the Spen Valley Greenway Cycle Route on Cycle Sprog.
Sutton Bank, North Yorkshire
There are a variety of routes at Sutton Bank as well as a skills loop. We did a lovely single track route which wound its way through the trees. It was not overly long but we would have happily have done several laps of this.
Dalby Forest, North Yorkshire
Dalby Forest provides a variety of different graded routes to suit children of all abilities, from the 2mile Ellerburn Family route to a 6 mile blue route. There is a bike park which is a geat place to practice your skills. New since our last visit is Rollocomotion a progressive pump track which we will have to try. We also cycled the Gruffalo trail where we discovered a series of progressive cycling skills loops off to one side where your little ones can try out their mountain biking skills.
Sherwood Pines Forest Park
I know this is not in Yorkshire but is not too far if you are in South Yorkshire and Sherwood Pines Forest Park is well worth a day trip from West Yorkshire. If you have a budding mountain biker this is a fantastic introductory experience as it is nearly all interesting single track with no long fire road climbs.
There is a skills loop at the beginning where you can try out your skills before starting off on the 8 mile red route. There are a couple of short tricky sections but there are little bypasses so you can easily go round them if you are not feeling brave enough yet. Part the way round there is a little diversion to a jump park where there is a series of graded jump routes, the first few of which are fun to play on. Even I had a go on them not to be out done by my 5 year old! There is also a green and a blue graded route for those not wanting to try the red.
Leeds Urban Bike Park
The Leeds Urban Bike Park which opened in late 2017 is already a magnet for cyclists of all ages. Located next to Middleton Park in South Leeds it provides something for all abilities. With cross country mountain bike trails suitable for all levels of cyclist; jump zone, a BMX track and a mini pump track; café, toilets and bike repair centre. The mountain bike trails, which are partially completed and due to open spring 2018, will be 6km long when finished.
The trails are set into three zones – green for beginners, blue for intermediate mountain bikers and red for more proficient riders with good off-road skills and fitness. The mini pump track is ideal for the little ones on balance bikes or just learning to pedal as well as more experienced. Every time we have been everyone has been very considerate of the kids, even when they want to go on the BMX track or try the red mountain bike route. If you don’t have a bike you can always hire one from the centre.
If this has inspired you to go on a family ride and you don’t have a bike you could always borrow a bike for free from one of the 49 bike libraries across Yorkshire.
Thank you so much for all the inspiration Emma. Do join her Facebook group for more ideas for Yorkshire family days out on bikes!Join us on Facebook