In 2010 a series of eight Big Skies Bike Rides was launched with the aim of encouraging cyclists to discover the varied and interesting terrain of the Yorkshire Wolds. The first time I rode “South Dalton, Lockington & Lund from Market Weighton” I had already been to Pocklington with ride buddies and stopped at Market Weighton to see the wooden statue to local legend William ‘Giant’ Bradley. (In the olden days when I would breezily cycle from Beverley to York along the length of the A1079 the road went through the centre of Market Weighton. Since then the town has been bypassed by the main road: Giant Bradley Way.)
On subsequent undertakings of this route I have parked in Goodmanham and ridden from there. Crossing the busy B1248 – twice – and having to spring open the Dalton Park gate at the Pipe and Glass means that the route is not exactly suited to being a time trial course, but when time is short – or fitness levels low – I have used the gently undulating road to test my fitness – or confirm the lack of it. But the main purpose of this and the other Big Skies Bike Rides is to explore the wonderful Yorkshire Wolds by bike – and for the Market Weighton ride there is something of a pub theme going on…
From the car park in Goodmanham – the recommended alternative start point – I roll down the hill before taking the left turn at the outskirts of the village and cycling up and over the little bridge to the crossroads at the top. Market Weighton is to your right, but a left turn here puts you on the route proper and along the Kiplingcotes Valley.
Watch out for the pinch point as you pass underneath the impressive structure that once carried the now disused railway line through Lord Hotham’s land – the Hudson Way. A little further on is a crossroads – don’t turn left here yet. (There used to be a cafe to the right, that I can vaguely recollect, called ‘Granny’s Attic’. It is now a private dwelling and furniture store. Much of the old station building remains.)
Carry on along the valley floor and at the next crossroads take the sharp left uphill along the course of the Kiplingcotes Derby, reportedly the longest-running horse race still in existence. All the momentum gathered along the valley will have been lost on the tight bend – almost always sprinkled with gravel. A jab at the pedals gets you over the first few yards and you’ll soon be levelling to the starting point of this 500-year-old horse race.
Taking the next two right turns sends you downhill towards Dalton Park and over the cattle grid through the private estate road and the gate that opens at East Yorkshire’s premier gastro pub.
One day I’ll take up the offer – staked on to little posts around the village – and go inside St Mary’s church, its splendid steeple the inspiration for the Yorkshire Wolds logo.
Mere Lane takes you across the B1248 – there are good sight lines, but do take care – and on to Lockington, where you are invited to try fording the narrow waterway – and invitation I have always politely declined.
After Lockington a gentle uphill section brings the thirsty rider to the second of three pubs encountered – not including those in Market Weighton itself – in less than twenty miles. It’s a while since I’ve eaten there, but the Wellington Arms in Lund is particularly well regarded.
Follow the signs through Lund and take care again at your second crossing of the B1248, on to more gentle uphill capers past Lund House farm and up to the left-hand bend that signals a brief descent to the crossroads at the bottom of the hill. Try to stay on the big ring towards the next junction – I never can – and bear right back towards the starting point of your journey.
Once comfortably past the little dink at that last junction I’m back on the big ring and trying to get away with the chain deflection that comes with a 23T rear sprocket. Unless I surrender to a headwind I find that I’m engaged with a slightly unhealthy competition with myself to get to the top of the long and deceptive drag in as quick a time as possible. The summit or thereabouts is a crossing point for the Kiplingcotes Derby, but for us it’s a warm up for the long downhill stretch over Goodmanham Wold. Keep an eye out for the birds of prey often seen circling over the woods to your left and enjoy the views – but hover over your brakes – on the fast descent in to the village.
If, like me, you start in Goodmanham the ride could be over in not much more than an hour, but it’s not a race and you’ve got another potential pit stop in the Goodmanham Arms. If you don’t fancy refreshments in the pub – it has its own microbrewery, apparently – and haven’t tried it yet I recommend the Fiddle Drill – just within the village near the top of the hill and on your right – for a range of delicious food in a very pleasant and spacious barn conversion.