Way of the Roses
The Way of the Roses is a beautiful coast to coast ride that rewards a bit of effort on hills with the most spectacular countryside – including the Yorkshire Dales and the Yorkshire Wolds. Cycling west to east is best to avoid headwinds. The route is mostly on quiet country lanes and is well signposted with the white and red roses of York and Lancaster guiding you all the way.
In short, we absolutely loved it and would happily do it again.
We rode the Way of the Roses over five days – including a half day’s train travel on day one and some extra cycling on day five to get to Hull (via Hornsea further down the coast). It was mid-August and the weather was kind; and by cycling west to east we got the hills out of the way in the first two and a half days.
We were carrying our own stuff in panniers but we met a group that had arranged for their bags to be carried to B&Bs on the way. The service included taking them and their bikes back to Morecambe at the end of the ride. There’s more information about this on the Way of the Roses website. It also has a map, mileages and elevation, accommodation, information on cafes, bike shops and places of interest and a photo gallery.
You can buy a Way of the Roses map on the Sustrans website.
Morecambe to Wray
16 miles / 26 km
We got a bit lost in Morecombe and managed to miss some important bits – the official start and the statue of Eric Morecombe. I blame the stormy weather and our desire to be on our way after a long train journey. This stage (on NCN 69) starts on flat cycle paths taking you through Lancaster. Bridge House Farm Tearooms in Wray is a lovely place to stop.
Wray to Settle
19 miles / 30 km
There’s no escaping the hills. You’ll have seen them from afar and now you’ve got some climbing to do, especially after Clapham (now on NCN 68 & 688) . But the views are spectacular. We stayed at the Valleymead Guest House (highly recommended) in Giggleswick (separated from Settle by the river Ribble). We were greeted by Shirley with tea and homemade cakes. Yorkshire hospitality at its finest.
Settle to Airton
6 miles / 10 km
You know you’re crossing the Pennines when you see a sign for a one in five ascent. So we started with a long walk up a hill and suffered the indignity of being passed by speedies in lycra. It was all worth it for the three-mile descent to Airton. The fantastic Town End Farm Shop and Tea Room (turn left in the village) provided excellent coffee and cake and made us sandwiches for the road.
Airton to Pateley Bridge
21 miles / 34 km
More hills but the Dales are so wonderful it’s worth it. We had a picnic by the river Wharfe then we climbed Greenhow Hill – the highest point on the Way of the Roses. It’s worth stopping at the Toft Gate Barn Café at the top of the hill before Pateley Bridge. Watch out – this is a very steep descent on a busy road. In Pateley Bridge, we stayed at Talbot House B&B and ate at Olley’s Pizzeria.
Pateley Bridge to Ripon
16 miles / 26 km
Another cracking stage with great views but the price you pay is more climbing out of Pateley Bridge until you reach Brimham Rocks. Follow the signs for the National Trust car park on the left to see these amazing stacks of rocks. From here (still on NCN 688), there are lovely downs and in no time at all you’re at Fountains Abbey, also National Trust, and well worth the entry fee.
Ripon to York
31 miles / 50 km
If, like us, you’ve spent much of the day at Brimham Rocks and Fountains Abbey, you’ll have some miles to get in before you get to York. The good news is that the route is almost completely flat on quiet country lanes and passing through pretty villages so you can make good progress. You’ll come into York via NCN 65 along the river – we stayed at the Ibis (not great to be honest).
York to Pocklington
18 miles / 29 km
Finding our way out of the city on NCN route 66 was a bit tricky but we were soon back into pretty Yorkshire countryside. This stretch included some pesky rough track alongside fields. Cycling in a deep rut is not easy and at one stage I got tipped off — luckily I had a soft grassy landing. Pocklington is a lively little town with lots of cafes including the Fresh Food Deli and Coffee Bar.
Pocklington to Harpham
28 miles / 45 km
This stage took us into the beautiful Yorkshire Wolds, through the area’s characteristic dry chalk valleys and over the hills around Huggate on NCN 164. From there we were on NCN 1, with more flat landscapes and a surprising number of railway lines to cross. We got a warm welcome at the St Quentin Arms in Harpham after a long day’s cycling.
Harpham to Bridlington
15 miles / 24 km
The last stage was something of an anti-climax – not least because the route seemed to take us around the houses in Bridlington for ages before it eventually led us to the sea. But we did it!