Tag Archives: Yorkshire Wolds Cycling

Sykes Churches Trail – A Cyclist’s Route

Visitors to the high wolds – the countryside around Sledmere on the Yorkshire Wolds – can’t fail to notice the links to the Sykes family. The impressive Sledmere House, the memorials and the Sykes estate properties with their distinctive red paintwork are very visible reminders of the family’s association with the area. However, almost entirely hidden behind a stand of trees is another remarkable feature: St Mary’s church. Built between 1893 and 1898 at a cost of at least £60,000 – equivalent to more than £5,000,000 in 2022 – it is the grandest place of worship on the Sykes Churches Trail.

From a display board in St Mary, Sledmere:

Between 1856 and 1913 Sir Tatton Sykes, 4th baronet (1772-1863) and Sir Tatton Sykes, 5th baronet (1826-1913) of Sledmere built, rebuilt or restored 18 rural churches in East Yorkshire, chiefly on the Wolds. It was the aim of Sir Tatton Sykes II, ‘perhaps the greatest English church builder of the 19th century’, to create centres of ‘Christian Art and Worship’ and he spent a fortune to produce some of the finest village churches in Britain. Three of the greatest Gothic Revival architects were employed: John L. Pearson, later architect of Truro Cathedral, George Edmund Street, best known for the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, and Temple L. Moore, whose career began in the East Riding.

The glory of the impressive architecture of the Sykes churches is equalled by the splendour of their Victorian and Edwardian furnishings by leading craftsmen and artists of the age. On sunny days the churches are flooded with colour from stained glass by the firms of Clayton & Bell, Burlison & Grylls, Kempe & Co., and H.V. Milner. The roofs are painted, the floors covered with decorative tiles, and the ornate wooden or wrought iron and brass screens divide nave from chancel.

The Sykes Churches Trail appears to have come about in 2013 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the death of Tatton Sykes II. It is separated in to a southern circuit and a smaller northern circuit, with Sledmere appearing on both. Over the summer of 2022 I completed several shorter rides in order to devise a single manageable, but challenging, Sykes Churches Trail suitable for road and touring cyclists. It covers a little over 100 miles.

Not all of the Sykes churches are included in the resultant route. I originally visited North Frodingham and Wansford but discounted them as, well, this is a web site celebrating cycling on the Yorkshire Wolds and these two villages are on the Holderness plain. (Similarly, the church of St Margaret, Hilston sits on the North Sea coast and was in any case destroyed by a bomb and rebuilt in the 1950s.) St Peter, Langtoft and St Andrew, East Heslerton failed to make the cut because of their proximity to unsuitable main roads. None of these roads is free from risk but, ultimately, safety won out over completeness.

This, entirely unofficial, cyclist-friendly Sykes Churches Trail incorporates both northern and southern circuits and fourteen of the Sykes churches. A photograph and description of each church is given below. The cyclist’s cardinal sin of going back over the same roads is kept to a minimum, and is limited to the final spur at Bishop Wilton. A desire to avoid uphill sections on the busier roads, and to miss out less scenic views, led to some slightly extended loops and route-making decisions. (For instance, as a risk averse cyclist I never ride uphill from Fimber to Sledmere, or from Sledmere to the Cowlam crossroads, and I avoid the featureless drag from Wetwang to Huggate.) Ultimately, the choice of route – and the decision to drop some Sykes churches from the list – was determined by a mixture of safety concerns, a need for quiet roads and a wish to take in the varied and pleasant scenery of the Yorkshire Wolds.

A suggested cyclist’s route for the Yorkshire Wolds Sykes Church Trail as a Garmin Connect course. (Note that East Heslerton and Langtoft are omitted because of their proximity to unsuitable roads.)

You can also view the Sykes Churches Trail – A Cyclist’s Route as a Strava segment and as a Garmin Connect activity.
Continue reading Sykes Churches Trail – A Cyclist’s Route

The Big J Sportive 2022

‘Big J’ is Joel Wainman, a highly regarded former member of Hull Thursday Road Club who has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Joel has two young sons, and a friend of his has set up a Just Giving page to help during this terminal illness. Sunday 21st August 2022, is the date of the Big J Sportive, organised by Hull Thursday Road Club.

I’ve ridden two Hull Thursday Road Club sportives and I hope to ride this one next month. So I revisited the now defunct web pages I blogged back in 2013 and 2016 to remind myself of both events. I reproduce them below in case they might be vaguely useful to anyone thinking of entering any of the 2022 distances. I understand that the routes for the Big J will follow those of the Big G, but they don’t appear to be detailed as yet on the events pages. So I’ve included my Garmin Connect and Strava activities should anyone wish to view either the 100km or 150km routes. (Note that my ride from 2013 was from the old event headquarters in Molescroft; subsequent rides set out from Bishop Burton.)

100km Big G Cyclosportive 2013

Big G 2013 polo shirt 100km

Yesterday, I finally managed to take part in the Big G Cyclosportive after illness, holidays, a wedding and other distractions prevented me from giving it a go in previous years. This was only my second sportive after completing the Heart of the Wolds back in April. Once again I was unprepared and carrying a bit too much weight, but I enjoyed a dash around the Yorkshire Wolds with some faster, younger cyclists.

I quickly latched on to a group of riders from the Beverley Knights and Hull Thursday clubs. As with my previous sportive, the help of others in sharing the work would prove invaluable; I was rather optimistically hoping for ‘Gold’ in this event. Thankfully, the weather provided a break from the recent heat wave; a few minutes after I had applied sun cream we found ourselves getting rained on as we left Molescroft.

Continue reading The Big J Sportive 2022

Cycling Climbs: Bailey Lane, Warter

Bailey Lane out of Warter has gradually become something of a recent favourite of mine. It is included in one of the shorter loops, ‘A Yorkshire Wolds Red Kite Bike Ride‘, and is best approached along Cold Wold from Huggate or Back Lane from Nunburnholme. At the bottom of Totterdown Hill (the proper name for the locally famous ‘Nunburnholme Hill’) it used to feel as though I was wimping out when I took the gravelly turn east towards Warter instead of grinding my way up to the top. No more. ‘Nunburnholme’ has lost its sparkle for me. Too narrow, too busy, no nice views. The opposite, in fact, of Bailey Lane.

There are arguably stiffer climbs out of Warter – Cobdale Lane (pictured in the distance in the photgraph above) and Cold Moor may well be more challenging – but they lack the views while Bailey Lane still offers significant resistance. To be clear, this is no killer climb – it doesn’t get a ranking in Roger England’s Hill Climbs of the Yorkshire Wolds – but is sufficiently testing that the folds of Bailey Dale down and to the left perhaps provide a welcome psychological distraction that lessens the impact on the tired rider’s legs. You are also more likely to see Red Kite gliding overhead. Which is nice.

Continue reading Cycling Climbs: Bailey Lane, Warter

Field House Campsite, Tibthorpe

This page is for Field House Campsite, Tibthorpe. See also the main accommodation page.


Field House near Tibthorpe is an ‘off-grid’ campsite east of Huggate on the Way of the Roses cycle route and three miles from the course of the Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route. It opened in July 2021 as a ‘pop-up’ site (and after a successful trial has been developed further with the addition of purpose built ‘eco’ toilets for 2022 and ‘coffee barn’ in 2023).

Here’s what Dixe Wills, travel writer for the Guardian, wrote about the countryside in which Field House Campsite is set, between Huggate and Tibthorpe, after completing the Way of the Roses for the first time:

And furthermore, I was ready for the question every cyclist gets asked about a long-distance ride: What’s your favourite bit? My answer? The four miles on the way to the village of Tibthorpe, about 20 miles from the east coast: huge skies, an empty road beneath my wheels and the sylvan countryside below melting away in the summer haze. I’m ashamed to say I threw my arms out wide and, coming over all Leonardo DiCaprio, shouted out, “I’m the king of the wold”. Which just goes to show that country air may not be so good for you after all.

Field House Farm Campsite Yorkshire Wolds Cyclist Friendly

As well as being a potential overnight stop for those riding the Way of the Roses the campsite is in a prime location for cyclists looking for a base in the Yorkshire Wolds from which to complete a range of day rides. Many Yorkshire Wolds accommodation providers rightly state that visitors can enjoy excellent cycling nearby, but for those from outside the area it is not always obvious where to start. This post is the first in the category ‘Ride Base Loops‘ that aims to give visiting cyclists at least five different loop options starting and ending at the same fixed base.

Continue reading Field House Campsite, Tibthorpe

Hill Climbs on the Yorkshire Wolds

With the increased popularity of cyclo-sportives there have been numerous articles in the national magazines covering some of the country’s toughest climbs. Also we now have a book describing the UK’s ’100 Greatest Climbs’. Not surprisingly none of our local climbs feature in any of these publications. Our local roads do not have the severe gradients or the length to match those on the Moors or Dales and tend to be overlooked, but there are times when returning home from a ride Trundlegate feels like my personal ‘Killer Climb’.

Burdale 2
Burdale: a short, sharp climb but is it long enough to be amongst the toughest climbs on the Wolds?

In addition to the various articles there are a number of web sites devoted to cataloguing climbs, and one site, climbbybike.com does list one of our local climbs, Staxton Brow. This site is different in that it gives each climb a ‘Difficulty Score’ in an attempt to provide a comparison between different climbs. Staxton scores 44 compared with Blakey Bank on the Moors at 70, and the Lake District’s Hardknott Pass (West) which tops the English climbs with a score of 106. These scores show why climbs on the Wolds do not figure in national surveys. Nevertheless some of the climbs can offer tough challenges to a tired rider.

Continue reading Hill Climbs on the Yorkshire Wolds

A Yorkshire Wolds Red Kite Bike Ride

I was a member of the Young Ornithologists’ Club before I joined the Cyclists’ Touring Club as a schoolboy and for me the experience of appreciating Yorkshire Wolds wildlife has been a vital part of cycling in and around the area. Back then I collected the full Orbis publication ‘The Encyclopedia Of Birds’. Week by week the collection would build up in to a pile of magazines that went in a cardboard box to be stored in the loft for the next three decades. Yes, you can find all the up-to-date information you need – and more – on the Internet these days, but when I wanted to carry out some research about the UK distribution of Red Kite I was interested to read a contemporary account from the time when I was a child. A map confirmed that areas where Red Kite could be found all year round were limited to Wales.

Red Kite distribution 1980s

Compare that to the map on the Yorkshire Red Kites web site that also details the reintroduction programme of 1999 at Harewood Estate in West Yorkshire.

Over the past few years I have noticed these magnificent birds more frequently whilst cycling around particular parts of the Yorkshire Wolds. So I thought I’d put together a ride that takes in most of the places where I’ve spotted Red Kite. The route is a little under forty miles long.

Continue reading A Yorkshire Wolds Red Kite Bike Ride

Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire: A Road Cyclist’s Guide (Review)

A recurring theme in reviews for the original 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs went something like “Why wasn’t such-and-such hill included?” Fans of Scottish hill climbs in particular took offence at the ratio of their favourites to those in Wales (7:14) – and the inclusion of some lesser climbs in the South East especially. Back in 2010 my two penneth worth was about the road between Grinton and Askrigg…

Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire - A Road Cyclist's Guide Simon Warren review

Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire – A Road Cyclist’s Guide, by Simon Warren

Simon Warren describes a ride towards Askrigg (# 46 Oxnop Scar) that I haven’t done, but would like to. According to Warren this climb has a height gain of 243 metres. The Harkerside road from Grinton goes from about 186 metres to 541 at its peak. Even if you start counting at Low Witta (about 220 metres) the climb to the top, and the cattle grid shown below, is well over 300 metres of height gained, with more false summits than I can remember, and no fewer than seven Ordnance Survey chevrons pointing at the wearying cyclist. The chap in the B&B in Askrigg told me that drivers’ Sat Nav systems sometimes send them along this narrow road. I wouldn’t fancy driving it, but how long will we have to wait before 100 More Greatest Cycling Climbs I wonder…?

Well I got the follow-up title wrong (the sequel was to be ‘Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs‘) and the climb didn’t make the cut, but that oversight is remedied in ‘Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire: A Road Cyclist’s Guide‘, the latest publication in this popular series.

Continue reading Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire: A Road Cyclist’s Guide (Review)

Cycling Climbs: Cowlam from Driffield

My first recollection of this beautiful climb was on a ride to Whitby. After a gap of two decades I had sought out the local Cyclists’ Touring Club group whose route that day coincided with my own towards Malton, or thereabouts. After refreshments in Bell Mills outside Driffield I continued to keep up with the group despite having two full panniers of gear for a four-day mini-tour. I chatted away about how the oval chainrings of my Biopace chainset on my tourer definitely helped with low-gear efforts. Then it all started to go wrong. I think I may even have jumped off the front on the earlier, gentle slopes. Everyone went past me as I grunted up the deceptively strength-sapping climb. It just seemed to go on and on…

Continue reading Cycling Climbs: Cowlam from Driffield

Shorter Loops: Skinny Loop to Sledmere from Little Weighton

This 50-mile route is a skinny loop north out of Little Weighton up to Sledmere on the high Wolds. After the drag up to High Hunsley – the highest point on the southern Wolds – there follows a descent to North Newbald and the short sharp ramp of Stoneknowle Hill, and a crossing of the A1079 before another descent to Gardham. Aside from Stoneknowle Hill the noteworthy ascents on this route include Kiplingcotes Racecourse; North Dalton to Huggate; and Life Hill (between Wetwang and Sledmere), although ride buddy Rob described the terrain to Sledmere as being “fairly flat”. Crikey.

Continue reading Shorter Loops: Skinny Loop to Sledmere from Little Weighton

Cycling Climbs: Settrington Bank

A man of my advancing years really should know better than to even think about checking out his place on the Strava leaderboard for cycling climbs on the Yorkshire Wolds. And yet here I am with the first in a series of posts about these occasionally testing – but always scenic – ascents that start in the southern slopes of the Wolds with Brantingham Dale and extend to the climbs out of Filey on the North Sea coast.

Continue reading Cycling Climbs: Settrington Bank