The great British bike-off: York & Ryedale find the perfect recipe for girls on bikes
It might be a British love affair, but men are still four times more likely than women to cycle*, so the City of York and its rural neighbour Ryedale have cooked up a plan to get ladies on wheels, with the region’s extraordinary number of top-class tea-rooms becoming the perfect pit-stop.
Bob Howden, President of British Cycling explains: “In Britain, we have the world’s greatest female cyclists, and so we want to make sure that as many women as possible get the chance to enjoy our new ‘national’ sport, aiming to get a million more women involved in cycling by 2020. York & Ryedale are perfect places to get out cycling, with an outstanding variety of routes to try in beautiful landscapes, plenty of support services, but most importantly a friendly environment. This is the kind of place where girls really can have fun, on two wheels!”
“Women demand much more from their cycling,” adds Michelle Brown, Tourism Marketing Manager of Make It York. “It’s not about pounding the pedals or roughing it on holiday for bragging rights. According to research*, there are three magic ingredients to an enjoyable cycling experience for ladies – it needs to be fun and friendly, and it needs to feel safe. In York & Ryedale, girls can get everything they might desire on two wheels – whether complete beginners or challenge-seekers. Most importantly, they’ll be treated like royalty.”
York & Ryedale are surrounded by some of the best cycling country in the UK so, to get girls out exploring in a fun and friendly way, the region has created a series of tea-room trails. Designed for gentle escapism, not leg-busting, they feature award-winning, top-class tea-rooms famed for cakes, bakes and connoisseur-grade coffee and tea that, not make great places to meet up with friends and family, but are also ‘safe havens’ along the route, where cyclists know they’re going to get a great welcome - and a spot of well-deserved luxury.
Yorkshire has already carved itself a niche as one of the UK’s most bike-friendly destinations for ladies, with its Tour de Yorkshire being the most lucrative women’s road race in the world, but these bike & baking routes have some added attractions:
Exceptional sightseeing and selfie moments en route: journeying through tranquil, magnificent landscapes, having close encounters with Britain’s precious wildlife, or enjoying some of Britain’s best attractions, from York Minster to Castle Howard – cyclists can even enjoy a nostalgic steam ride on the North York Moors Railway in Pickering with their bikes. In this ancient farming country, cyclists will also pass through fields supplying fresh ingredients to the tea-rooms!
A traffic get-away: the tea-room trails are connected by purpose-built, traffic-free cycle-paths, bridleways, or back-lanes so quiet there’s grass growing up the centre.
Extraordinary variety of cycling experience: from riverside meanders of spirit-level flatness, to top-of-the-world moorland adventures – there’s no wonder that the world’s cycling elite keep coming back to this little corner of Yorkshire.
No roughing it: cycling accommodation in York & Ryedale puts as much effort into hot tubs as bike washes. Cyclists stopping overnight in Helmsley, Malton or York can enjoy the full gourmet and spa experience, including Michelin-starred restaurants and one of Tatler’s favourite spa-hotels.
Support team: there’s no need to break a nail, with purpose-built bike centres offering maintenance and hire at Sutton Bank National Park Centre near Helmsley, or Dalby Forest near Pickering – both with excellent tea-rooms - alongside helpful and friendly bike stores in Malton, York and Pickering. Wherever the route leads, it’s never far from a town, village and pub for unscheduled emergency stops.
In such outstanding cycling country, there are also many opportunities to go a step further, with guides and tour companies offering extra special adventures, and women-specific courses to develop bike-handling skills.
Not ready for two wheels? Cyclists can hire a tricycle, or share the adventure on a tandem.
Whether nervous novices or experienced action-seekers, there are routes for everyone, and no-one has to cycle the complete tour – the beauty of these trails is that cyclists can just hop from tea-room to tea-room, or visit an attraction or landmark along the way, and then simply return at their own pace:
Beginners might prefer Sustrans National Route 65, a gentle, traffic-free trail journeying through York’s ancient city centre alongside famous landmarks like York Racecourse, York Minster, JORVIK Viking Centre, York Walls, or right up to the regency palace of Beningbrough Hall – with many opportunities to tempt the taste-buds in the city’s tea-rooms along the way.
Those seeking a little more adventure with friends or family might prefer ‘Castle Howard and Nunnington’, a trip through an historic parkland paradise with no less than eleven of Yorkshire’s best tea-rooms, including Welburn’s Leaf & Loaf artisan bakery, deli and pottery; Terrington’s Lavender Farm with famous panoramic views and lavender scones; treats from Nunnington Hall’s organic orchard; Hovingham’s celebrated old-fashioned home-baked recipes; and Castle Howard’s elegant eateries.
There are also several, shorter off-road versions of this route, which are ideal for getting away from the traffic. ‘Biking the Banks’, ‘Appleton-le-Street’ and ‘The Hovingham Hub’ climb gently through woodland and tranquil farmland with the reward of panoramic views of Castle Howard’s grand parkland, the Vale of York and the North York Moors National Park. ‘Biking the Banks’ and ‘Appleton-le-Street’ have the added attraction of following the magnificent ridgeway ‘avenue’ of the Centenary Way – all completely traffic free. There might be a few hills, but don’t let this put you off – there’s no shame in getting off to appreciate the view on the way (and even more excuses to replace that energy with a tea-room treat at the end!)
A number of routes circle around Malton, ‘Yorkshire’s Food Capital’ (and easily reached by train from York), with its artisan bakeries, delis, confectioners, ice-cream parlours and tea-rooms making it the perfect start and grand finale. They include journeys through the gentle, unspoilt countryside of the River Rye and River Derwent, famous for wildlife, but also – if you head for Leavening Brow - exhilarating views across Yorkshire, and a breath-taking downhill jaunt into Leavening village itself!
It’s not just tantalising tea-rooms to be found on these routes: there are also historic village pubs serving delicious homemade bakes and hearty lunches – many with roaring fires to greet you, or gardens with fantastic views. Best pub-tours include ‘Castle Howard and Nunnington’, ‘Over the River Rye’ and ‘Kirkham & Leavening’.
For many more ideas on cycling and holidays in York & Ryedale, from where to stay to cycle hire, visit www.visitryedale.co.uk, www.howardianhills.org.uk or www.visityork.org, or consult an expert at York’s Visitor Information Centre on Museum Street (near York Minster). For ideas while you’re already out and about in North Yorkshire, there’s free WiFi, maps and guides at Visitor Information Points in Helmsley and Malton.
*insight from British Cycling Federation, and reports produced by Women in Sport on cycling
Notes to Editors
For a complete background pack on Cycling in York & Ryedale – one of the UK’s best cycling holiday destinations – or for photographs, please contact:
Nicola Bexon, Pyper PR: 01904 500698 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Samantha Orange, Pyper PR: 01904 500698 or email@example.com
Visit Ryedale is supported by Ryedale District Council and over 700 tourism businesses and works in partnership with Visit York, Visit Hull & East Yorkshire, Welcome to Yorkshire and Visit England.
Visit Ryedale's aim is to market Ryedale and its market towns as a must-see destination to the leisure visitor, and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in Ryedale. Visit Ryedale is responsible for leisure marketing, visitor information and ensuring a quality visitor experience.
Make It York (York’s Destination Organisation) has an overarching remit to market the city and its surroundings – nationally and internationally - as a vibrant and attractive place to live, visit, study, work and do business. The remit covers leisure and business tourism, city centre management, festivals and events, business support and inward investment.
Visit York is a part of Make It York and is the leisure tourism brand. Under the brand Visit York, Make It York’s aim is to market York as a must-see world-class destination to the leisure visitor and ensure investment to develop the quality of tourism in York
Key York tourism facts: 6.8 million visitors annually, £608 million total visitor spend, supporting 20,300 jobs.