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Grassington – Bolton Abbey

A cracking route taking in a wide variety of terrain and scenery, including fantastic views of Simons Seat, a testing climb over Barden Fell, with stunning architecture at Bolton Abbey and a ride past the equally impressive Barden Tower.

This route consists of 3 different sections, the first reasonably tame, but with some fun off-roading on distinctive lowland dales terrain. A short stretch of tarmac follows onto Barden Fell bridleway for the main climb of the ride, and an equally fast downhill ride towards Bolton Abbey. this section down Barden Fell, we think is possibly one of the best downhill sections in the southern dales.

The route continues to Burnsall and finally returning to Grassington. Unless we are deep in the dales, were not big advocators of road cycling, but the return cycle from Bolton Abbey to Grassington, roughly 8 miles was very pleasant and quiet B roads passing through some striking scenery.

A classic ride out we recon.


Total distance 22.4Miles
Grin Factor

Total Distance: 22.4 Miles
Total Climbing: 4760.5 ft
Time: 4.25 hrs

Off-road: 14.4 mi
On-road: 8 mi

Climbing Distance: 8.6 mi
Descent Distance: 10.7 mi
Flat Distance: 3.1 mi

Terrain: Tarmac, Bridleways, Grassland.

The Route

Start Point:  N 54 03.982 W 2 00.305 Grassington town centre.

  • Follow the road out of lower Grassington and over the bridge. Turn left immediately after crossing the river and follow the road to Linton. (B6265 Lauradale Lane). Pass through and out of village, (passing the Fountain Inn on your left).
  • Take the obvious track right where the road bears left. This has a good limestone base and climbs to a gate, then goes on as a grassy surface and descends, steadily at first then quite steeply, to a main road. Take care here, as there is no gate, sign and is quite easy to spill out onto the road.
  • Cross the road to Moor Lane, a loose limestone climb. Following the next gate the route covers moorland on a well surfaced track to a ford crossing. Carry straight on over the moorland to a descent across fields to a gate in bottom left field corner at the top of mucky lane.
  • A tricky but rideable mud and grassy track section follows that descends between walls to a gate. Pass through onto a good hard track leading to a road that junctions with the B6265. Turn left on the B6265 towards Cracoe.
  • Turn right into small lane just before the village across bridge onto the bridleway signed to Rylstone. This limestone track leads to two gates. Take the left-hand gate and follow field wall to farmyard next to church. Through the next gate and take the bridleway on the left signed to Barden Moor. Follow this easy limestone track through gates to an obvious lane. Go left (signed to Barden Moor) and follow this track 200m to a gate on left signed to Barden Moor Fell.
  • Go left through this gate and start to climb up Rylstone Fell. It is steady at first but then very steep up towards the top. Continue to climb steeply after the gate to the top where it levels out on to a sandy moorland track.
  • Cross the moorland on an entertaining rutted sandy single track, boggy in places –  A short section of purpose built path gives way to more bridleway before climbing on to a good limestone track to the summit of Embsay Moor. Bear right on the obvious track (wooden post) and start to descend slowly at first, then steeply. Continue to descend on a fast, good track with intermittent short climbs for 3km to a road crossing.
  • Turn left onto tarmac, cross the cattle grid and take the right hand bridleway signed to Bolton Abbey. Climb steadily on a good grassy track to a gate then on a steeper section to the mini-summit. The track then drops quite steeply before levelling out on a grassy surface to a gate.
  • Pass through the gate (Bridleway sign) and across the obvious track near manhole covers. Continue across the field to a gate and then on towards woods, still on a good grassy surface. Take the obvious track through the woods and descend on a steep winding route to a gate. Cross the field to a gate on left (unsigned) and then follow the right-hand field boundary to another gate and stone track. Go left and descend to road, you are facing Bolton Abbey Manor.
  • Turn left onto the road, then right at the monument to descend into the grounds to the Cavendish Pavilion tea rooms, for a much needed pit stop.
  • Cross the Wharfe on the wooden bridge in front of the Pavilion and follow the smooth-surfaced track to a T-junction with a minor lane . Turn left and follow the lane climbing steeply at first – check out the oak tree outside Laund House! Then descend to a junction with the road up from Barden Tower. Turn right and follow the lane to another T junction.
    Follow this road to the end and bear left down the hill, cross the bridge and up to the ‘T’ junction, turning right back to Grassington via Burnsall Bridge (8 miles), its tarmac all the way back.

Route Photos

Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Leaving Grassington, head towards Linton.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Turn right onto the bridleway Tarns Lane.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Watch the descent, it crosses a main road.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
crossing b6265 onto Moor Lane
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Track goes left towards Cracoe.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Turn left.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Left onto Barden Fell.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
The Climb up Barden Fell.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Your rewarded by superb views behind.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
The long descent.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Head onto singletrack after crossing Barden Road straight after the cattle grid.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Through gate.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Over open moorland, on the 4th gate follow the path left.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
A short woodland downhill into Bolton Abbey.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Turn left at Bolton Abbey Manor.
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Barden Tower
Grassington - Bolton Abbey Bike Route
Headback to grassington by tarmac passing The Strid and Burnsall Bridge.

Food & Stuff

With a start point in a popular dales tourist spot, for once there’s no shortage of food and shops on this route, we got a pretty good breakfast at a café in Grassington, but they shafted us on the bill. Grassington is the first port of call for many dales tourists and the prices can sometimes reflect this.

There’s also a Café, The Cavendish Pavilion at Bolton Abbey (about half way round), The Red Lion at Burnsall Bridge serves good beer in a pleasant beer garden.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. Superb… I did a variation of this route (kinda lost, kind of exploring) I fully agree with the description of the descent into Bolton Abbey. Jaw dropping my beautiful, fast and fun. I’m still smiling. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.

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