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The Swaledale Round Route    By Ben Freeman

This is one of the most scenic XC routes in the UK on good Bridleways with a bit of pushing and one small carrying section. The route is rideable all year round including Winter (snow) and after heavy rain ' as most of the bridleways are quite stony and well maintained. However, the route goes up high and is quite exposed so in strong wind there is no shelter and expect to get battered quite severely! Strong wind can be especially bad on Fremington Edge ' so miss this section out if the weather is bad.

Total distance 33 miles: OS Explorer OL30 'Yorkshire Dales ' Northern & Central Areas'.

Vital statistics
33 miles & 4290 feet of climbing taking anywhere between 4 hours (summer) to 6 hours (winter / bad weather). It's very fast in sections e.g. our max speed on road the road section was 42 mph and we managed a modest 34 mph off road. Direction ' either but we prefer clockwise (as the descents are faster and the uphills easier). Escape routes ' plenty of options to drop down to the valley if things aren't going to plan. In dense cloud / fog a compass & map are essential. Take care not to get lost on the barren moor near Melbecks Moor and also Great Pinseat ' the path can be hard to follow in the mist!

Start: Muker Village P&D car park ' GR: 911978 Show

Muker ' Ivelet ' Gunnerside Gill
Ride East along the road for 2.2km and take the first LH turn at 933976 Show, follow road down, over humpback bridge and to right. Climb through Ivelet up to Gunnerside Lodge and go straight on and down over cattle grid & bridge to climb uphill. Take Bridleway on left at 941983 Show signposted 'Private Road'. Climb on bridleway to gate at 934005 Show, go through gate, over bridge and take RH branch as the bridleway climbs back up (junction is by a wooden signpost on the left of the main bridleway, with the route going to the right of this signpost). NB The first 20m is boggy all year round but the bridleway past this is fine. Descend into Gunnerside Gill at 937017 Show

Gunnerside Gill ' Great Pinseat ' Fore Gill Gate
Cross stream via ford and bridge to East side and carry bike up zig zag path to Bridleway at 938018 Show. Head South on Bridleway (becomes very technical single track) to cross roads at 940012 Show. NB The OS map is wrong here! Take the uphill bridleway branch (heading SES) which is not marked on the map! After 400m the bridleway steepens and you have to push for 200m, head due East and you'll relocate the path at 944011 Show. Follow this NE to join the main road at 946014 Show. Head East and after a gentle climb, there follows a very fast smooth descent to 964013 Show (Level House Bridge). (This is escape route option 1 ' take the RH path through the gate down to Surrender Bridge and back to the valley floor via Feetham.)

To continue the ride, turn due North and head up Flincher Gill crossing two fords to gate at 960022 Show. Go through gate, and head NE, climbing to Great Pinseat at 970025 Show. It's easy to overshoot the Bridleway amongst the rock dunes, so look out for a RH trend just after a large cairn. Bomb downhill at max speed to join the road at 992006 Show. (Escape route option, take the road downhill to Surrender Bridge and continue to the valley floor via Feetham). To continue the route turn left onto road and after 200m cross ford and climb for 10m to pick up bridleway & gate on RHS just after the ford at 993009 Show.

Fore Gill Gate ' Fremington Edge 
Follow bridleway to pick up main road at 009016 Show, turn Right and follow road SE into Reeth at 038993 Show. Head down hill on the RHS of village green and follow main road to LH junction at 044990 Show. Climb up the road to reach Fremington Edge at 044007 Show (10 points for cycling the whole ascent, 5 for making it as far as the 2nd gate and 2 for giving up at the first gate, no points if you didn't make the first gate). Go through the 3rd gate (the one at the top) and follow Bridleway due North to Hurst at 046023 Show.

Turn left at the first house and head SW on Bridleway until the Bridleway appears to be blocked by a fence at 032021 Show. This is very deceptive but the bridleway turns sharp left, follows the wall for 50 yards and around an invisible corner is a gate! Do not cross / trample on the wire fence (where everybody else has) as this is someone's field!

Fremington Edge to Muker
See Video (20Mb)
Go through the gate and follow the path across boggy ground to the Edge of Fremington Edge at 022025 Show. Pick up the path running NS in a ditch and follow this South down the face of Fremington Edge to gate at 019024 Show. Go through gate, and down grassy path to junction at 018022 Show. Turn Right onto bridleway, through ford and gate and follow rocky Bridleway to Langthwaite at 005024 Show. Turn Left at pub and left again onto main road. Follow road up and then back down into Reeth at 038993 Show. Turn Right at junction and head 9 miles East along B6270 back to Muker.

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