Yorkshire cycling website
Bike trail by Timble Gill Beck
Yorkshire Water has created a bike trail near Fewston reservoir. Starting from the car park in Swinsty Moor Plantation, it runs through the Beecroft Plantation, via a 'features area', and up to Timble woods. There's also a trail through the Swinsty Moor Plantation.
In Yorkshire Water's press release (10th September 2013), they said, 'A new and exciting mountain bike trail in North Yorkshire is now open to the public, offering riders of all abilities the opportunity to test and develop their riding skills. Yorkshire Water had spent approximately £20,000 to create the action-packed 1.2km route at its Beecroft Plantation, next to Fewston reservoir, near Harrogate.'
Most of the route can be done by anyone on any kind of mountain bike or hybrid. The 'features area' in the Beecroft Plantation (the 1.2km section referred to in the press release) requires a bit more mountain biking skill, as does the single track route through Timble woods. Both of these are optional.
The bike route is shown in brown on the OpenCycleMap that I've annotated:
There is also a Yorkshire Water map (but several people have said it's not easy to read).
Main car park at Swinsty Moor Plantation
Parking is at the car park on the edge of the Swinsty Moor Plantation, on the south side of Fewston Embankment (entrance marked P on the map). The car park has toilets, and in the summer, there's sometimes an ice cream van. There is a height barrier, so for vehicles with bikes on the roof, Yorkshire Water suggest their equestrian/cycle users' car park (entrance marked P2). Really, it's just one car park, divided by a fence, and with two entrances. The equestrian/cycle entrance is a few metres up North Lane towards Timble.
Equestrian/cycle users' car park entrance
The start of the bike route
A footpath that goes round Fewston reservoir starts nearly opposite the entrance to the main car park. Footpaths have yellow waymarkers. Ignore the footpath.
Instead, for the bike route, turn left out of the car park (but not sharp left up North Lane). The road goes down into a dip. At the bottom of the dip, on the right hand side, is the start of the bike trail. There's no signpost, and as you can see from the photo, the entrance is discreet, not obvious. The bike trail has light blue waymarkers.
There's an information board and map near the start of the trail.
Initially, the bike path runs to the left of a dry stone wall, and quite close to the footpath around Fewston reservoir.
Fewston reservoir seen from bike trail
Entrance to the features area
If you want to ride the 'features area', you have to turn left at the first junction (up a track along the edge of the Beecroft Plantation), and straight on (rather than right) at the second junction. Just before the track reaches the road, the entrance to the features area is on your right. Again, it's discreet rather than indicated with lights, music, and fireworks.
If you don't want to do the features area, the route through the woods (with two slightly different variants) is shown on the map. You'll pass the bottom of the features area, where it rejoins the main route.
Bottom of the features area
The crossing of Rues Lane
Just before you reach Rues Lane, there's a little right/left dogleg, off the track where it goes past a house which is being restored (July 2018), and into the woods. Cross Rues Lane, and on the other side of the road there's a gate and an information board. Go through the gate and follow the track, and you pass some beech trees on the right.
Beech trees after crossing Rues Lane
Then the trail runs alongside Gill Beck for a time. It's a lovely little stream, and this is perhaps the most picturesque part of the ride.
Riding by Gill Beck
Here, there are sections of the path with tree roots to negotiate, and sharp ups and downs. Leaving Gill Beck, you go past the bottom of the single track section. The main route is the right fork, and it's a track through Timble woods. It takes you round two sides of a square, uphill to Timble Ings.
Peacock butterfly, Timble Ings
At Timble Ings, there are wildlife ponds which were created in 2006. An information board explains that the number of ponds in Britain has reduced dramatically over recent decades, and there has been a corresponding decline in species that rely on pond habitat. The ponds at Timble Ings are positively alive with frogs, toads, water boatmen, damselflies, dragonflies, and a whole lot more.
Damselfly, Timble Ings
There's an abundance of butterflies in the woods and meadows you pass through on this ride, but particularly around Timble Ings. In summer 2018, there are peacock butterflies in profusion. Credit where credit is due, whoever is managing this area at Yorkshire Water appears to be producing a landscape that's rich in wildlife.
From Timble Ings, it's nearly all downill. You emerge into the open, with the woods on your left.
Track on the edge of Timble woods
You can turn left down the single track section, back into the woods. It's quite technical, as there are tree roots and rocks to negotiate.
Otherwise, continue straight on, on the main track, back to Rues Lane. Then, you can either turn left down Rues Lane, and ride back the way you came through the Beecroft Plantation (green arrows on the map); or go straight across Rues Lane, then after a short distance, fork right on a minor road to Timble (orange arrows on the map). The orange arrows are just to differentiate this route from the Rues Lane route, not to indicate that it's any more difficult.
Timble is a delightful, quiet village. House martins nest under the eaves of Robinsons Library. The swish Timble Inn is an option for a drink or lunch.
From Timble, North Lane takes you back to the Swinsty Moor Plantation car park.
The Yorkshire Water press release said of this 'features area',
'The course, which features bumps and jumps of varying degrees of
difficulty - along with 'chicken runs' for those who want to avoid
obstacles - was designed using input from local mountain bikers to
ensure that there is something for everyone, regardless of their
level of ability, and is part of the wider 9km cycle network in the
Washburn Valley. What's more, it's completely free to use.'
There are rocks, rollers, and other features made from logs.
This video from MTB Cycle Yorkshire shows mountain bikers on the features area in the Beecroft Plantation:
What do you think of the bike trail. Is there any way it could be improved? Have I missed something in this guide to the bike route?
The best and most popular cycleway in Harrogate, the Nidderdale Greenway goes about 4 miles to Ripley, using the trackbed of a disused railway. It opened in May 2013.
This circular road cycling route starts in Harrogate, and heads up to Pateley Bridge then Lofthouse. It climbs the Côte de Lofthouse, which featured on the 2017 Tour de Yorkshire, then returns via Grewelthorpe, Kirkby Malzeard, Galphay, Studley Royal and Ripley to Harrogate. It's on quiet, country roads, features beautiful scenery, and there's the challenge of a steep ascent.
Read about this Côte de Lofthouse road cycling route.
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