Cycling Climbs: Green Lane, Helperthorpe

I first glimpsed this climb when riding one of the Hockney-themed Big Skies Bike Rides: Sledmere County from Sledmere. At the bottom of the slope pictured below a left turn (along the actual Green Lane) takes the rider looking for a sub20-mile loop towards Havering and back to Sledmere. But there was something about the way the road disappeared in to the overhanging trees, shrouded by foliage like some lost horizon, that made me want to come back and seek out this modest, yet rewarding climb.

Green Lane, Helperthorpe
Approaching the Green Lane climb from Helperthorpe

And so I put together a few routes that first went right at the T junction that is ultimately arrived at on the way to Sherburn via the twisting descent of Sherburn Grits. From Sherburn I invariably head north to Snainton over the Vale of Pickering before returning to the Wolds via Yedingham and West Heslerton. However, I thought I’d try a left turn at that T junction and I wasn’t disappointed. Though it would make the ride much shorter, the descent of Whin Moor (given the name “Watch Out For The Cars?” by some Strava wag) is an absolute joy, with beautiful pastoral scenery that flashes by on the way back to West Lutton. (To be fair, you really should watch out for the cars on this twisting freefall.)

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Cycling Climbs: White Gate (West Heslerton Wold)

If, as I do with my ride buddies from time to time, you find yourself cycling over the North York Moors towards the Yorkshire Wolds, it is likely that you will have a hill to climb after passing through the Vale of Pickering. Usually we will ride up Leavening Brow, but most recently we have carried ourselves up West Heslerton Wold, also known as White Gate. This is not the stiffest hill in the area – and it isn’t on a par with the North York Moors roads out of Egton Bridge, or Murton Bank out of Hawnby – but with a fair few miles in the legs it is a testing climb.

I also like to climb this hill on longer rides from my home on the flatlands of East Yorkshire. A ride out to the foothills of the North York Moors is a rewarding return for a long day in the saddle, and White Gate is a deserved treat after those flat miles between the Moors and the Wolds. Pedal smartly away from the staggered crossing of the A64 and start to sort out your gears ready for slipping on to a larger rear sprocket. (I should point out that there appears to be a roadside cycle track along the A64 between Sherburn and West Heslerton, but I prefer the loop to Snainton rather than having my nerves shredded by the rumble of (fairly close) passing lorries and countless motorcars.)

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Cycling Climbs: Grimston Brow (Luddith Road)

My first recollection of this deceptively strength sapping climb was actually as a descent. I had ridden with a club to Malton and one of the newer members had wanted to complete his first 100-mile ride. So with a slight detour from the planned route we were able to incorporate the Thixendale Big Skies Bike Ride in to the day’s trip and tick both boxes. I typically approach this climb having passed through Settrington, heading south for a short stretch of the B1248 and popping over the little bridge with its unusually specific 25mph speed limit. Soon after there is a left hand bend and a junction on that corner. The signposted turnoff points to Birdsall, but we want the unsigned road along which a cottage and a utilities building can be glimpsed.

Beyond the buildings the road soon opens up a rather lovely view and a very satisfying sense of remoteness. Whenever I write about this hill I am at pains to point out that cows – and, we’re told, a bull – roam the open-gated fields between the cattle grids at the top and bottom of this climb. (The recent judicious use of a partly worn non-scratch scourer on the underside of my brake calipers is a reminder that the road is far from out of bounds for these roaming bovines.)

I’ve actually never turned around having seen loose cattle, but returning to that junction and following the signs to Birdsall – with the prospect of climbing Birdsall Brow – is a pleasant enough alternative, so it’s not the end of the world. One time on a solo descent, having passed the point of no return, I inadvertently triggered something of a stampede reminiscent of a scene from Jurassic Park, and was relieved to reach the sanctuary provided by rolling over the lower cattle grid. But I digress.

On a rainy ride from Sledmere with friends, in the days before the road was resurfaced

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Thixendale Hills: A Taster Ride

Thixendale is a picturesque, remote North Yorkshire village just over the border with the East Riding of Yorkshire. Almost all sportives I’ve ridden (and all challenge rides I’ve organised) pass through the village, many along Warter Dale which ramps up out of Thixendale heading north west. However, all six of its notable hills are well worth taking. Some, such as the road to Fridaythorpe, are arguably more suited to descending, albeit with particular caution. That climb is rather narrow and goes upwards for what feels like several hundred metres; I don’t like going slowly up busy or narrow roads. All ways in and out of the village offer wonderful views and recently I thought I’d put together a short route taking in each of them. Unsurprisingly, others have come up with their own take on the same theme (more on that later), but on the day I did this ride I had a specific need make the route less than fifty miles.

In 2022 a free car park opened just outside the eastern edge of nearby Huggate, that would make an ideal start point. This isn’t a long ride, but you would be forgiven for taking refreshments in the newly refurbished Wolds Inn afterwards. So here is a suggested route. What’s yours…?

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