Squires to Tan Hill & Back
Updated: Apr 10, 2019
This route was very kindly sent in to the RIDE by John Machell from the East Riding of Yorkshire.
John usually rides with the Fatboy Owners UK.
The iconic Squires bikers cafe is the start and end point for this ride (as most are within this region). This is due to the rich heritage that spans generations of local bikers who all enjoy the friendly atmosphere on a warm sunny day at "the cafe".
Depending how quickly you want to get to the really good part of this ride there are a number of alternatives from Squires to Ripon, the fastest and most direct being to jump straight on the A1 and exit the motorway at Boroughbridge. This would be the best solution if you had time constraints on your day's riding.
An alternative to this would be to head through Sherburn-in-Elmet, Tadcaster, Boston Spa, Wetherby & Knaresborough before getting to Ripon. This will increase your overall journey time by about half an hour but is really worth it if you have the time! These roads are flat and windy and just what you need before you start heading into the more hilly region of the Yorkshire Dales beyond Ripon.
Ripon is really the start of the great riding in this ride that will take you over 100 miles of just fantastic roads with awe inspiring views, through some of the best countryside the UK has to offer.
As you head north from Ripon, following the eastern most boundary of the Yorkshire Dales National Park & winding your way through small villages, you come to the 1st of many potential stopping points along this journey, The beautiful market town of Masham. Here there are many places to grab a drink, an ice cream or some fish & chips and soak up the steadier pace of this great little town.
If you have enough time and are a beer lover, the Black Sheep Brewery is one of the main attractions in Masham and if you click the link you will be directed to the "brewery tours" part of the Black Sheep Brewery website - Well worth a visit if you can!!
Heading onward from Masham
The roads keep getting better, as does the scenery. Still just on the edge of the Dales you are getting more of an insight of what this area is all about - Dry stone walls line the roads keeping the livestock off the roads. If you hit this area in spring there are lambs bounding around playfully as you find your way along the narrow road between Masham and Leyburn.
It is in this part of the ride that you come across the charming River Ure bridge near Middleham, riding beneath the fortified arches and onward towards the Leyburn.
Leyburn is a good place to get some fuel for the next stint of the ride which is significantly more remote as you head up to the Moor tops to Tan Hill.
Leyburn to Tan Hill Inn
From Leyburn market square it is a right at the mini roundabout followed closely by a left at the junction before the Kings Head pub, this road is signposted for Grinton & Reeth.
From here as you exit Leyburn the roads become smaller, often single track with pulling in places as you climb from 200 meters above sea level to over 500 meters at the Tan Hill Inn, Britain's highest pub way up in the heights of Swaledale.
It is recommended to select your days riding up in this area due to the good old British weather and how good it is at ruining a great day, that said if you catch it on a clear sunny day you won't get much better!!
Tan Hill to Hawes
Where before dry stone walls kept sheep away from the roads, this area of moorland is home to thousands of free roaming sheep and as such it pays to expect them on the road which remains often single vehicle width between the Tan Hill and Hawes.
You are literally up hill and down dale as you pass through the stunning small countryside villages of West Stonesdale, Keld and Thwaite before turning off of the B6270 and heading for Hawes.
John, who sent this route into the RIDE states that the Buttertubs Pass in this area is one of his favourite parts of this ride and who are we to argue when he is backed up by none other than BBC, and now Amazon TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson who states that this is "Englands only truly spectacular road!!"
Here the roads have opened back out to a normal size and you can enjoy the flowing bends with a touch more pace before making the descent into Hawes where you may once again be ready for a snack or drink in this great biker friendly town.
In Hawes there are a good number of pubs serving food, a great fish & chip shop as well as others (I personally tend to stick with a chip butty while in Hawes). There is also a very clean public toilet facility in Hawes.
Hawes to the Sun Inn
Here you head south through he heart of the Yorkshire Dales National Park through more immense scenery and on some small typical Dales roads.
If you are wanting to push on there is a better option for this stage of the journey that heads from Hawes to Settle (this will be covered in another Dales ride blog soon) however if you have the time and in some cases the patience, as there are very few overtaking opportunities on these narrow roads you will be rewarded with some of the best views in this area.
From Hawes town centre you turn left directly after the primary school, signposted Kettlewell.
From here it is back to single width roads that wind their way through farms, valleys and picturesque hamlets as you continue along the narrow winding road to the north east of the imposing Pen-Y-Ghent fell, one of the Yorkshire 3 peaks. Here you are following the River Wharfe, crossing the river over a narrow bridge at Deepdale and on increasingly more flowing roads towards Kettlewell and further past the sheer rockface of Kilnsey Crag to Grassington.
Once through Grassington you are on quick "fun" roads that take you around bends with little sight ahead at first, up and over the crest of a hill then down into 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 on the right and into the 40mph zone at Greenhow where you turn right at the signpost for Blubberhouses.
Here it is more of the same, quick flowing bends followed by great straights over the moor top with the famous Ilkley moor coming into sight beyond the valleys ahead on the ever changing horizon before plunging steeply beneath a treetop canopy towards the A59. A left towards Harrogate closely followed by a right turn for "Fewston / Norwood" takes you a short 1.5 mile journey of sweeping bends to the popular bikers spot, the Sun Inn where you are more than ready to jump off the bike, grab a snack and relax in the peaceful surroundings. If it is a sunny day you are almost guaranteed to be one of many doing just this as part of a great day out on the bike at this location.
The Sun Inn back to Squires
Don't be fooled by thinking that the great riding is done here, the road between the Sun Inn and Poole is one of the most fun roads in this area. It has everything you could want on 2 wheels, from the outset you have a good open uphill section with clear views of the road ahead to the crest of the hill where it becomes heavily tree lined as you head down the hill through Stainburn Forrest, around a steady left hand bend followed by a long almost 180 degree right hander with good sight of the bend exit that continues to the Lindley Reservoir crossing bridge in the valley below.
Once clear of the bridge there are a number of off camber bends up the hill and along the side of the valley before you hit the T junction and turn left towards Poole. This next mile or so can easily catch you out if you are getting a little carried away with the final left hand bend followed closely by the narrow hump back bridge and even closer followed by another T junction to keep you on your toes. A right at the following 2 T junctions brings you into Poole where you cross the River Wharfe for the 2nd time on this ride albeit the river is much wider now and hang a left at the mini roundabout heading for Harewood.
You are in and out of 30 & 40 mph speed limits until you are clear of Arthington then it is business as usual along the flat valley bottom to the A61 T junction, uphill from here around the sweeping right hander into Harewood village and a left at the traffic lights takes you down the 4 mile straight into Collingham where you are just about back on the A1 and a few junctions away from getting your end of ride brew back at Squires.
You have earned it!!