Forrest of Bowland
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
A truly fantastic day out on the bikes that takes in stunning sights, great roads and a number of great biking stop off points. It is 160+ miles of great roads that gives you a fantastic day out on the motorbikes!!
This is the route was the February "Secret RIDE" and boy it was good.
For this blog I have separated the RIDE into 3 parts:
Squires to Route 59
Route 59 to Long Preston
Long Preston to the A1
This route starts at the iconic north of England bikers venue - Squires Bikers Cafe. Here you can grab a brew and meet up with your riding buddies ahead of the days riding adventure. Chances are that 100's of other bikers will be doing the same and have their own itineraries for the day, this gives you chance to check out lots of different bikes to wet your appetite for a fantastic day out on the bikes.
Squires to Route 59
From Squires the map takes you up the A1 however there are a number of options if you don't want to hit the A1, 1 is through Aberford and the other is through Tadcaster - both bring you out at the same Wetherby junction that the Google map exits the A1.
From here you are on all great roads until you get back to the A1 in approximately 140 miles time at the end of this beauty of a RIDE!
As you head west, away from the A1 you pass through Collingham, a pleasant small village with stonebuilt properties lining the streets. This leads to a fast tree covered straight that crests and falls quickly following the contours of the land before you reach the traffic lights at Harewood. Straight in front of you is the gatehouse for Harewood house, this is a good opportunity for a great picture.
From Harewood you are into the Wharfe Valley following the River Wharfe along a winding road, through Poole and into the Market Town of Otley.
Depending what day you're riding it may be advisable to check if the market is on as this could affect a trip through the centre - there is another way around which means crossing the Wharfe at Poole and turning left after the bridge, this is a good way if you'd like to miss out the town.
From Otley you head North towards Blubberhouses which takes you up to a stunning moortop road, here you have the choice to test your tyres and light it up along this glorious road, or if you are having a steady day out you get to enjoy the fabulous views from this brilliant vantage point.
As you head up to the tops you get hidden drops, tight bends (1 in particular as you head out of the tree covered area) and then it is open all along the moor. If you venture along here in June, all the heather is in bloom and is a brilliant purple, you can look over to your right as you head north and get great views over Fewston Reservoir with the Huge "golfballs" of Menwith Hill sat proud on the hilltop above, to the left is your 1st glances towards the Yorkshire Dales National park - Where you will soon be skirting past on your days RIDE.
As you descend to Blubberhouses the bends increase in both volume and severity - take care in the winter months as this side of the hill doesn't get the sun and can often be left somewhat greasy.
At the bottom of the hill you reach the A59 which is a main trunk road from the east (Harrogate) and the west (Preston) and through the week can get quite busy - This includes police too so worth keeping an eye out for this next bit of the journey. Though it is classed as a main road it is actually a cracking road to ride, it climbs up through a dramatic V shaped valley a few miles to the west of Blubberhouses before coming to the tops and showing off the staggering views as you quickly navigate a number of bends downhill towards Skipton.
Before you reach Skipton you get to the Route 59 Cafe which is a great little bikers cafe and a cracking place to stop for a butty and a brew and this is the end of the 1st section of this RIDE.
Route 59 bikers cafe is an old petrol station that replaced it's fuel pumps for bike parking, now most weekends the place is full of bikes of all sizes and shapes and their riders chatting about where they are heading to or where they have come from to get to this great little spot on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.
Route 59 Cafe to Long Preston
From Route 59, a left turn takes you west - past Skipton and over the border into Lancashire. At Gisburn there is a fuel station if needed before heading up into the hills of the Forrest of Bowland.
Once you leave the A59 and head up into the Forrest of Bowland the roads become much narrower as you head over the River Ribble and on up the tight bends through Bolton-by-Bowland and on to the quaint village of Slaidburn. This is a great spot for an ice cream on a hot summers day at the tea room by the river.
You pass through Slaidburn and on through more of the same tight but great road, through Newton-in-Bowland and Dunsop Bridge where you take the turning for Lancaster as you pass the white metal fencing on your left.
From here things step up another level, the road following Langden Brook has drops directly to your left down to the water, this continues for a couple of miles until you level off at the Langden Brook car park and follow the road past large farms and into an increasingly dramatic valley that is the Trough of Bowland.
This stunning single track road follows this valley before climbing up, through a narrow pass in the hillside which takes you over the crest of the hill, through some beautiful woodland that hugs the stream as it meanders downhill before the road turns away and up to the moor tops.
After turning away from the woodland this part of the road changes from steady, single, narrow roads to open, quick moortop roads with beautiful views. It is in this area that you find the next great photo opportunity; Jubilee Tower which is a stone built tower that has great views over Heysham and beyond to the Irish Sea.
Once you have soaked in the views from this great vantage point you continue down from the tops and once again into the valleys. You head through Quernmore and along the quick road to Caton.
From Caton you head north along the A683 main road through Claughton before turning off onto the B6480 back to the windies.
There is an alternative here that takes you to Ingleton and back on the A65 if you are low on time. This way is fast and fun but keep an eye out for police if you are pushing on.
The B6480 takes you east along often tight roads that may not suit superbikes but they make for an extremely pleasant ride.
Once you hit the crossroads next to the Honda ATV centre and turn right you are about to take on one of the best single track roads that I've ever ridden. This road is brilliant all the way into Slaidburn, on the ascent it is awesome (you need to stop to take a look behind you at the view), it can be quick as you can see so far ahead, and see if there are other vehicles coming in the opposite direction for almost all of it.
You then reach the summit and begin your descent, traversing the valley and enjoying this great single width road that you should try out if you haven't done so before. So in reflection get on this road!!
After a brief stint through Slaidburn again youturn off and head to Long Preston along a quick & beautiful road that has you using a good amount of your tyres due to the amount of bends but it is also a road on which you can move along nicely all the way into Long Preston - and the end of section 2 of this RIDE.
Long Preston to the A1
At the T junction you reach the A65 which is a massively popular biking road in this region, it is popular for a reason, it is open, winding, beautiful and can be very fast if you want it to be - For this reason there can be a lot of police along this and they have high powered cars in the region, a Subaru and a Mitsubishi Evo are often on here as there have unfortunately been some terrible accidents involving bikes over the years.
The A65 brings you into Gargrave where this route takes you off and onto smaller roads once again to Grassington. Here you move into the Yorkshire Dales National Park along a lesser travelled route to Grassington. The road here alternates between single width and standard single carriageway and through some stunning scenery.
If you wanted to keep the pace up and keep to more main roads you could keep on the A65 to Skipton and turn left on to the B6265 which is a brilliant biking road and meets up with this route before Grassington.
Grassington is a great little Dales town with an abundance of tea rooms if you have generated a thirst (however you will soon be in Pateley Bridge and this may be another option for a stop).
Once through Grassington you are on quick "fun" roads through Hebden before heading back up to the tops where it opens out to teasingly long straight roads with great visibility. The road has a great little right/left/right section where it crosses the River Dibb that is also a relatively steep down hill and up hill as you enter the valley which is a great little bit of fun before heading up and up past Stump Cross Caverns. Beyond this you get brilliant views to the left of the outstretching Dales before making the steep descent into Pateley Bridge.
After your break if you stopped for a brew or ice cream you head up the narrow high street in Pateley bridge and up to the hills again. As you level off slightly you are turning left towards Ripon. This road is a belter and you can shift along nicely whilst taking in the amazing surroundings as you head over the quick, straight tops before coming into the steadier and much more winding, descent into the Market Town of Ripon.
Through Ripon you are following signs for the A1 which takes you past the racecourse and out a few miles to Boroughbridge where you can rejoin the A1 and head home following a great day out on the bike!!