Road cycling in Yorkshire is renowned for its ferocious gradients, often inclement weather and wild scenery. It has been hitting the headlines of the cycling press in recent years – and has a growing reputation as one of the best areas of the country to ride a road bike.

Yorkshire’s cycling revolution has a lot to do with the iconic events that it hosts. It was catapulted into the spotlight when it hosted the Grand Départ for the Tour de France in 2014 and the UCI World Road Race Championships 2019. The annual Etape du Dales and Tour of Yorkshire are two of the most eagerly anticipated events on the UK cycling calendar.

Want to cycle the Dales?

In this guide, you’ll find everything you need to plan an unforgettable Yorkshire cycling holiday: detailed information on the best road rides plus where to stay, when to visit and where to rent a bike in the Yorkshire Dales.

Read on and plan your next cycling adventure.

This article includes details of Stolen Goat kit. As you know, we’re big fans. We may also include details of other products and/or services that we have used ourselves or which we would consider.  If you click on a link and buy something or make a booking, we may earn a commission. Please read our disclosure policy for further information.

Cycling Yorkshire: which region to visit?

Yorkshire is a large county that’s blessed with loads of fantastic cycling regions, from the Dales, Nidderdale and North York Moors in North Yorkshire to the Yorkshire Wolds in the east, the Strines in South Yorkshire and Calderdale in West Yorkshire.

Most of the region’s most famous climbs are found in North Yorkshire, and are particularly within the Yorkshire Dales. This area focuses on the Yorkshire Dales in North Yorkshire.

What’s so special about cycling the Yorkshire Dales?

In a county of beautiful scenery, the Yorkshire Dales still manages to stand out. It’s a National Park and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – and the reason for these designations is the wild countryside that looks unlike any other part of the UK.

This is an area of craggy limestone cliffs and untouched moorland that vividly contrasts with the lush green valley bottoms with their dry stone walls, picturesque stone villages and barns.

If you like your roads quiet, you’re also in for a treat. Main roads around the edges of the Dales mean that the serious traffic bypasses the roads of the Dales – traffic you’ll encounter is mostly locals going about their day to day business between the scattered hamlets and villages or, in the more popular hotspots like Malham, tourist traffic.

Descent of Buttertubs Pass to ThwaiteDescending the famous Buttertubs Pass
Cyclist climbing Garsdale Head, Yorkshire DalesNear Dent on the way up Garsdale Head
Cyclist on Fleet Moss climbWild and open Fleet Moss

Should you cycle the Yorkshire Dales?

If you like smooth roads, gradual gradients and reliable sunshine, don’t book a cycling holiday in the Yorkshire Dales. You’re unlikely to find any of those things here.

Winter is long in the Dales, and even in the summer months, changeable weather systems mean you’re as likely to get a week of wind and rain as a week of sunshine. The winding country passes rear up like angry beasts – up and over was the motto of road builders in this part of the world; no subtle, snaking switchbacks here. In a similar fashion, the surfaces of these ancient roads take a beating during the cold, snowy months of January through to March and resurfacing is not something that’s done regularly.

A Yorkshire cycling trip is perfect for the sort of rider that goes along with the weather, who loves to square up to a bit of adversity and loves a lung-busting gradient.

Still reading?!

Because if this is sounding like your kind of riding, you’ll love cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. It’s got a dark, raw, brooding beauty. When the rain is streaking down and the wind is blowing a gale, that’s when you see the real Yorkshire Dales.

Yet there is a softer side too. If you’re into your birdlife, you’ll be keen to spot the increasing number of buzzards and red kites in the area – and in spring and summer curlews and lapwings make their bests on the high pastures and moors. Owls are common and highland cattle, roe deer and red squirrels call this home. Ride through the green valleys of Wharfdale or Littondale on a spring morning, when the sun is bright and the hay meadows are ripe with a rainbow of wild flowers and we challenge you not to fall in love with this iconic corner of the world.

The Dales are also brim full of some of the UK’s most renowned climbs: Buttertubs Pass, Kidstones PassFleet Moss, Grinton Moor, Park Rash and Tan Hill to name a few.  Our Yorkshire cycle routes take in these and many more stunning climbs. Ride these and you’ll really have something to chat about when exchanging war stories on your next club ride.

We liked it so much, we included it in our list of the best places to cycle in the UK.

Yorkshire cycle routes

The Yorkshire Dales is a 2,178 km² (841 sq miles) protected space. One of the best things about riding here is that there are a myriad of roads you could choose to ride: the Dales are criss-crossed by a dense network of narrow twisting roads. For an area that gets little traffic, this initially comes as a surprise. But consider that the Dales have been continuously occupied by humans for the last 10,000 years and that the roads we see today are often Roman or upgraded cart tracks and drovers roads, and it becomes more understandable. The happy result is a cyclist’s paradise of roads that will make you very happy. Here’s our pick of the best.

Cycling climbs of Yorkshire

Not all climbs are created equal. Whether due to racing pedigree or sheer natural beauty, some climbs are more famous than others. These are the climbs we’d suggest you don’t miss:

Note: we don’t (yet) have stand-alone write ups on Park Rash, Tan Hill or Kidstones Pass (but watch this space). In the meantime, you can find our thoughts on those in the following guides:

Yorkshire sportives and cycling events

Some of the most famous Yokrshire cycling events are:

Tour de Yorkshire: this is an annual UCI road race with 2.HC status. The men’s race takes place over four days in early May each year. The women’s race is held over two days, and for the first time in 2019 was held on a Friday and Saturday to allow more people to view it. The Tour of Yorkshire route (and associated route of the Tour de Yorkshire sportive) changes each year. If you want to ride it, check out the route for the current year and create a GPX route to follow – we’d suggest trying

C2C route (Coast to Coast): The classic route takes riders 136 miles from Workington/Whitehaven to Tynemouth/Sunderland – through Cumrbia to Tyneside (so not Yorkshire). Cycling UK estimate that 12-15,000 cyclists do it every year. However, if you’re keen to do a coast to coast route but want to stay mainly in Yorkshire, you should look at the W2W Walney to Wear and Whitby that takes you 152/179 miles (depending which route you take) via Tan Hill in the Dales.

Etape du Dales: the Etape du Dales route showcases some of the very best roads Yorkshire has to offer. It’s seriously hard and not to be underestimated. The Etape du Dales is one of the UK’s very best sportives and, if you fancy testing yourself on some of Yorkshire’s hardest roads, this is a good way to do it. It’s organised by the Dave Rayner Fund and the proceeds go to supporting young professional cyclists that dream of making it to pro.

Accommodation: places to stay in Yorkshire Dales (for cyclists)

Remember to double-check accommodation bike storage arrangements (and any other services you need) before booking as policies often change.

Staying in one of the villages in the centre of the Dales makes sense if you want to cover off a few routes over a Yorkshire Dales cycling weekend.

Which village to pick? Well, Grassington or Settle are good choices if you want somewhere easily accessible from the south. To the east, Leyburn is a vibrant market town, with four pubs, restaurants, take aways, cafes and grocery shops. Hawes provides a base in the heart of the Dales, while Kirkby Stephen opens up the northern and western areas.

Or you could go for a camper van holiday!

Our choice: Simonstone Hall

We stayed at the beautiful Simonstone Hall Hotel, situated in Simonstone just outside of Hawes. This manor house hotel was built in the 18th century and retains many of the original features. The external façade is very impressive, the views over the Dales are magnificent and it is well located.

View from Simosntone Hall, HawesView from Simonstone Hall
Simonstone Hall, YorkshireSimonstone Hall
Buttertubs Pass from Simonstone Hall, Yorkshire dalesView to Buttertubs Pass from Simonstone Hall

What we love

The staff were excellent and couldn’t have been more helpful.

The location is beautiful, with far-reaching views across green pastures towards the fells of Upper Wensleydale. While it feels remote, it’s also only a five minute drive to the bustling town of Hawes.

The food and service were excellent. There’s a restaurant serving lunch and evening meals; it’s got a reputation for offering some of the best food in the area, with dishes that give a contemporary tweak to local produce.

Breakfast was self-service cereals and juices, followed by a table service menu for ordering your cooked breakfast.  Options included a full English Breakast as well as staples like Eggs Benedict, Eggs Royale and good old porridge.

Thoughtful touches like White Company toiletries add to the experience.

The nearby Hardraw Falls is a very popular tourist attraction as it is the home of the largest single drop waterfall within the country. It is accessed for a fee of £2.50 per person payable at the Green Dragon Inn situated in the hamlet of Hardraw.

Roll top bath at Simonstone Hall YorkshireRoll top baths galore at Simonstone
Exterior of Simonstone HallExterior of Simonstone Hall
Dining room at Simonstone HallA perfect venue for cycling groups looking for somewhere special to stay

Things to know

There are no bike storage facilities. The hotel offered to find somewhere to keep our bikes but we opted to keep them in the car.

The hotel has gained a reputation in the past as the location chosen by Kate Winslet for her honeymoon and via the fact that this was the location that the Top Gear presenter, Jeremy Clarkson ended his BBC career by getting involved in a very well publicised fracas with his producer (there is a brass plaque in the hotel bar marking the spot where the altercation took place).

Since then, a new team has taken over and Simonstone is gaining a reputation for all the right reasons. It also had a major makeover in 2021.

Both children and dogs are welcome. The hotel is a very popular base for ramblers and dog walkers.

More information

Simonstone Hall Hotel, Hawes, North Yorkshire

Telephone: 01969 667 255


More information

Other accommodation choices

The Yorkshire Dales are full of accommodation that would suit cyclists. From YHAs to pubs with rooms to country house hotels. The great thing about cycling in this part of the world is that most places are used to guests here to pursue outdoor activities, so most should be accommodating to your cycling needs. Just make sure you check before booking.

Travelling with kids

One particular problem we came across, however, was what to do when trying to combine a cycling holiday to the Dales with a holiday with our young children. Young children are often not overly keen/able to take part in the sort of outdoor activities the Dales are famous for. Our solution was Centre Parcs. The upside of this is the vast array of on site activities. The downside is that it’s in Penrith…

Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Whinfell Forest, Penrith CA10 2DW // 01768 893 009 // Website

The closest Center Parcs to the Yorkshire Dales is in Whinfell Forest, near Penrith. It’s about 30 minutes drive to Kirby Stephen, on the northern edge of the Dales and 1 hour’s drive to Hawes.

  • If you want to ride in the Dales and have young kids in tow, Center Parcs offers fantastic entertainment for them. In rural areas like the Dales, it can be difficult to find accommodation that offers enough kid friendly activities at or near the hotel to keep kids entertained. Center Parcs fixes that by offering hundreds of on-site activities, including the famous sub-tropical swimming pool complex. 
  • Center Parcs’ self-catering houses are excellent for multi-generational holidays; why not bring the grandparents to look after the children while you escape on your bike! 
  • The beauty of Center Parcs is that in between changeover days, there are no cars on site. This makes woodland rides with the family a very safe and pleasant experience.
  • You can hire bikes for the family on site, but it’s more cost-effective to bring your own. Don’t forget locks too, as you’ll want to leave your bikes at various points around the site.
Centre Parcs, Whinfell forest, accommodation for cyclists Yorkshire Dales3 bedroom lodge at Center Parcs, Whinfell Forest
Kitchen in a Centre Parcs Lodge, Whinfell ForestKitchen in a new style lodge
Swimming pool complex at Centre Parcs, Whinfell ForestSub-tropical swimming paradise at Center Parcs

Road cycle hire Yorkshire Dales

Prices, services and bike brands often change. Please let us know if anything is incorrect.

Road bike rental and services Cost

Dales Bike Centre

Parks Barn



DL11 6AW

Trek Emonda road bikes.

They’re able to deliver by prior arrangement, at an additional cost.

Flat pedals are fitted as standard. They also have Shimano road pedals for an additional £3. They can fit your own pedals.



One day: £35

Half day: £27

Stage 1 Cycles

Station Yard

You won’t see road bikes advertised for hire on their website, but if you book ahead, Stage 1 Cycles will happily rent you a road bike. They offer Genesis Equilibrium road bikes with Shimano 105.


There’s also a full workshop and they are main dealers for some big names.

£35 per day and £25 for second and consecutive days. Includes tubes, pump, tool and helmet.


Vern Overton Cycling

Low Lane




Trek Emonda and Specialized Tarmac road bikes with carbon fibre frames and compact gearing.

Fitted with 2 bottle cages, pump and spare tubes/tyre levers.

One day: £40

Subsequent days: £15

Dave Ferguson Cycles

3 Albion Yard


BD23 1ED

They also offer delivery and collection of bikes. One day: £35

When to go: weather in Yorkshire Dales

The problem with trying to pick the best time to go cycling in the Dales is that, even more so than other destinations, the weather often doesn’t stick to the climate records and statistics. So even if you pick what appears to be the best time on paper, more likely than not, you won’t get that weather.

As with most UK destinations, the most cyclist-friendly time to visit would be May to September. Then average temperature highs are 20°C+ and rainfall is lower than at other times of year. That said, we visited at the end of May and had a week of rain…and this year there have been flash floods in July. It’s also worth bearing in mind that statistically, this region gets rain on nearly half the days of the year.

From October to April, you’re increasingly likely to hit adverse conditions and frost and snow is a frequent visitor between December and March. The Dales are best avoided on two wheels during these months.

Visit the Dales with an open mindset, prepared for bad weather and grateful if you see sunshine – that way you won’t be disappointed!

January These are the coldest months of the year. There’s a high chance of frost and snow in January through to March, particularly on the Dales themselves. If you do decide to brave it, you’ll want to bring your deep winter kit and be sensible about whether to venture out on the frozen roads. By April temperatures start to warm up, but it can still be chilly – and wet!

  • Average highs: 7-12°C
  • Rainfall: 52-85mm
May These are probably the best months of the year to visit as a cyclist. Summer highs are generally in the twenties, and the chance of rain is lower than other times of year.

  • Average highs: 16-22°C
  • Rainfall: 46-68mm
October The trees turn golden in October and this can be a beautiful time of year to visit, but as you go through the month, the days start to get shorter and it’s one of the wettest time of year in the Dales.

  • Average highs: 7-15°C
  • Rainfall: 72-82mm

Credit: weather statistics from 



We’ve enjoyed both Simon Warren’s Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire book and Cicerone’s Cycling in the Yorkshire Dales.

Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire: if you’re familiar with Warren’s books you’ll know the format – half a (small) page of text with some graphics and photos to form a double page spread. The descriptions are concise and give a sense of the climb and what to expect.

Cicerone’s book provides 24 good quality loops, complete with maps and turn by turn descriptions. The author is clearly very experienced and has been riding the Dales for many years. We found some of the opinions a bit old school, but overall it’s a useful book.

Cycle maps

If you’re looking for a printed Yorkshire Dales cycle route map, we’ve come across Harvey’s Yorkshire Dales cycle way map that shows this route on one map and includes a route profile.

Otherwise, your best bet is an Ordnance Survey map. The 1:50,000 OS98 Wensleydale and Upper Wharfdale covers most of the region.

Good to know

Read our Tips for cycling the Yorkshire Dales before you go.

Public transport is not ideal within the Yorkshire Dales. In reality, the options are walk, cycle or drive. So, we’d suggest having a car. This will also allow you to explore further afield, and ensures that even if you stay in one area you can always drive a short distance to start another loop ride elsewhere.

Pub in Yorkshire Dales with bikes on outsideYou’ll spot lots of support for cycling as you ride around the Dales
Yorkshire loves cycling - garage with tour de yorkshire and bicycle prints on itThis is cycling country!
Bikes outside the Dales Cycle Centre and Cafe, HawesStage 1 Cycles offers bike hire in the Dales

Enjoyed our guide?

We’d love to hear from you – comment below or drop us a line.

Want more? Don’t miss our guides to the best Yorkshire cycling routes and other articles on the Dales (see below).

Want to check out some other destinations?


Got a question for Clare?

Fill out this form and we will send it to Clare. We aim to get you an answer within 24 hours wherever possible!

We will use this info to send the enquiry to Clare and/or their team. Our privacy policy explains more and here’s a reminder of our disclosure policy and terms and conditions.

Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up in 2018 to help make it easy for cyclists to explore the world by bike. Today her mission is still inspiring cyclists to discover new places on two wheels – and doing what she can to make sure they have the best possible time while they’re there. Clare has visited 50+ destinations around the world, many of them by bike.

Last Reviewed: 03 April 2024

The contents of this website are provided for general information purposes only. It is not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on it. You should carry out your own due diligence and take professional advice. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our website is accurate, complete or up to date. If you use any information or content on this website, download from, or otherwise obtain content or services through our website, it is entirely at your own discretion and risk. Epic Road Rides Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the information and content on this website. Find out more here.