Detailed Route Description
The route starts in Great Ayton at the small car park near the Tourist Information Centre. From here you can enjoy about 400 yards of flat, but not for long! After a left at the mini roundabout you start the gentle drag up the first climb, Gribdale, a good climb to start with as it eases you in before rearing up to about 10% at the hairpin near the top. After this you have a lovely descent on freshly tarmacked single track, remember to shut the gates as you go.
Climb 2 takes you out of Gribdale, steep but not too long, then it’s a rapid twisty descent to Kildale. You now have a half a mile of flat straight road, not sure how this got in?
Climb 3 is one of the easiest on the route taking you up towards Percy Rigg crossroads before dropping down to the foot of climb 4, the Kildale to Commondale climb. This will be the first proper test and if you go well up here you might hope you’re on a great day, don’t get carried away though.
Now you have the fast gradual descent towards Commondale before it dips down through the village, sweeps left, and then you are faced with the wall that is Sand Hill. This is climb 5, it looks worse than it is, i think, again though caution advised, your tank will already be starting to slowly empty, you need to make sure it doesn’t run dry too soon? Once over the steep section you can now make your way up to the famous Shaun the Sheep Bus Stop.
The first big descent of the day now follows as you drop down into Castleton, once over the bridge you have the short sharp climb 6 to contend with as you make your way towards the High Street, easy this, maybe even sprint up it if you’ve been able to carry your speed from the downhill.
Two or three miles of relative calm now follow between Castleton and Danby before you take the left at the crossroads and start climb 7, the ascent up towards the Beacon, taking the right turn onto the minor road at the crest of the hill on the main road. This climb up to the Beacon in its entirety is not too hard but needs a bit of respect, it’s quite long and exposed, maybe wise to take this quite easy?
Once at the Beacon itself sweep right and head back west all the way to Danby taking in the short sharp climb 8 near the Moors Centre. When you reach the crossroads at Danby you will have completed a loop, now go left down into Ainthorpe. Once in the village you are left again and onto climb 9 the long chewy drag up as you head towards Danby Castle, a forgotten climb on the route.
Great Fryup now beckons and climb 10, Street, is the first serious challenge of the day. After a twisty up and down approach the road starts to climb as you go through the cluster of houses that make up the hamlet of Street, then up it goes, 15 and 20% slopes will start to draw the life out of you before you surface at Glaisdale Rigg.
If you like fast descents you will appreciate the next stretch of road and maybe even the rolling terrain before you get to Glaisdale and then the dreaded right turn that takes you up the minor road into the dale itself and the infamous Caper Hill. There’s not much to be said about climb 11 that hasn’t been said by others, if anything defines this ride and the North York Moors it’s this climb, for those who know it I’ll leave you to your own thoughts, for those who don’t know it, may your god go with you! All I can tell you is that is does end and you might draw some comfort from reminding yourself of this.
At the summit there is no downhill to enjoy as such, just a flat traverse across the moor before a short descent and then climb 12 Hamer Bank, not hard but you will probably have a headwind and it always lasts a bit longer than you remember it. After this the road starts to drop into the Heygate Bank descent, for which care is required, if you look across the valley you will see the optical illusion which suggests that someone has built a road up a near vertical slope.
Once in and out of Rosedale you start to make your way up this vertical slope, appropriately climb number 13, though it may not be lucky for anyone! Rosedale Chimney Bank will hit you when your legs are less than fresh, the steepness of the 33% section is always a shock but remind yourself that it’s not long. The descent that follows into Hutton le Hole is much appreciated and fast if you want it to be, now it’s a case of steeling yourself for the final challenges.
First comes the steepest bit of the Blakey Ridge climb as you exit the village, climb 14, easy does it here. If you are suffering the last thing you will want to do is drop down into Farndale, but needs must, and so must you if you are to complete the challenge? The road towards Church Houses dips and rolls and in there somewhere is climb 15 among the quick descents and false flats. Yes you must go all the way down to Church Houses, don’t cheat yourself and cut the corner, you’ve come this far!
Climb 16 Blakey Bank, your legs may now start to betray you as you grind agonisingly back up towards the main Blakey Ridge route, this climb was designed not to end and the designer did a decent job! If you get to this point in one piece you may start to congratulate yourself. The next stretch of road along to Ralph’s Cross (unless you have a headwind) and then the glorious descent down into Westerdale may even convince you that there’s life in the legs. But then comes climbs 17, 18 and 19 to remind you that there is still much work to do. If you’re having a bad day or the tank is nearly empty climb 18 out of Hob Hole may take you to the limit one final time. Climb 19 is just irritating but you can afford a smile here because once it’s done the final 5 or 6 miles is, dare I say it, quite easy, enjoyable even!
Great Ayton and the safety of Fletcher’s Farm cafe beckon, job done!