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Grassington - Bolton Abbey - Upper Wharfedale mountain bike route
mtbdales >> bike routes >> Upper Wharfedale >> Grassington - Bolton Abbey
16th century Barden Tower
16th century Barden Tower
Grassington - Bolton Abbey
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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 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.

The route continues to Burnsal Bridge and finally returning to Grassington on road, albeit a relatively traffic free journey passing through some striking scenery on quiet Yorkshire Dales B Roads. A classic day out!


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Difficulty: rate Grin Factor: rate
Time :4.25 hrs
Distance: 22.4 mi
Offroad: 14.4 mi
Onroad: 8 mi
Climbing distance: 8.6 mi
Descent distance: 10.7 mi
Flat distance: 3.1 mi
Total climbing: 4760.5 ft
Terrain: Tarmac, Bridleways, Grassland.
OS Map:# OS Explorer - Active Map Yorkshire Dales: S & W areasOrdnance Survey OS Explorer - Active Map Yorkshire Dales: S & W areas



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Start point
- N 54 03.982 W 2 00.305 Grassington town centre

Harris Fowler Personal Injury Solicitors



The Route
Follow the road out of 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 on to 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 to a gate. 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 on to 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 Burnsal Bridge (7 miles), its tarmac all the way back.


added by: mark - Fri Aug 15


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.

Theres also a Café at Bolton Abbey (about half way round), The Red Lion at Burnsal Bridge serves pretty good locally reared food and good beer





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Your best either setting off from Bolton Abbey or Cracoe; doing the route over the moor and then back again.
from: yorkshiredemon | Sat May 22

good but a dissapointing ending, with lots of tarmac. the best section barden reservoir very fast,good views
from: Anon | Sat Jul 18

absolutely fantastic route this one, enjoyed it from start to finish, although we didn't start at grassington, we cheated and started at Linton (thought parking would be easier), directions for the route were easy to follow alongside an os map.Treck up to rylstone was hard!!! but well worth it as the descent down the moor was fast & fun.. would recommend this ride to everyone and will be doing it again.
from: Lorraine & Mark | Tue Jun 2

very tame aprt from the barden section
from: Anon | Thu Mar 5

i got lost at barden tower. nice route up to that point though
from: Anon | Wed Nov 12

i did the route over the weekend, great start! in fact the first half of the ride was very good, although a disappointing and long tarmac ride to the start point
from: john from pudsey | Mon Sep 22

plenty of pasta the night before for this one, a tough route not to be underestimated, but great fun with classic dales scenery all the way
from: mark | Sun Aug 17



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crossing b6265 onto Moor Lane
crossing b6265 onto Moor Lane'
Moor Lane
Moor Lane'
towards cracoe...
towards cracoe...'
Barden Fell towards Bolton Abbey...
Barden Fell towards Bolton Abbey...'
the manor house bolton abbey..
the manor house bolton abbey..'
Barden Tower
Barden Tower'
right.. return to grassington
right.. return to grassington'



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