APPROXIMATELY five miles north of Helmsley is the isolated community of East Moors.

You pass through East Moors as you drive along the road to Bransdale. You won’t see many buildings there as the houses and farms are sparsely spread around the moors and valleys.

Early in the 19th century there was no church and the parishioners worshipped in an old building which later became a school.

In the year 1882, the church of St Mary Magdalene was built. It was only small but accommodated a Sunday school as part of the church. It originally had chairs for the congregation to sit on during the service but they were eventually replaced by pews in 1909.

It was a thriving community and had feast days and sports days to which people would travel for miles to take part in.

One of the most special occasions for a church must be when a bishop pays a visit to preach. Although isolated, East Moors Church was honoured when the Bishop of Central Africa visited the church in 1890, followed later by the Bishop of York and others who have blessed this community.

Five miles further north takes you to Bransdale and the community of Cockayne – built on a hill overlooking the expanse of Bransdale is the Church of St Nicholas.

It was built on the site of the old chapel in 1886. This church must have the most beautiful position in England, surrounded by peace and serenity as it casts its gaze along the dale and across to the hills beyond.

In the churchyard, you will find some old graves which date back to the 18th century. The church still has a lively community and in the past has had some lively characters.

A priest at Bransdale was told that he had spoken treason in the church, he became very angry and threatened the person not to tell anyone or he would break his arm.

Another chap at Bransdale was found guilty of mumbling his sermons and was banned from preaching.

Two churches in a similar community but so very different. Both small with fine buildings, especially the tower at East Moors.

You must visit them both as you cycle around Bransdale. There is even a seat outside St Nicholas’s to have a rest and eat your sandwiches while soaking up the beauty of Bransdale.

Your route

Leave Helmsley on the Scarborough Road, then opposite the garage, turn left signed to Carlton and Bransdale.

Climbing now, you soon reach the village of Carlton. Continue along, still climbing steadily, and in about a mile, you reach the top of Cowhouse Bank.

Stop in the car park for a while to admire the view, then continue along the ever deteriorating road as you face a severe descent.

Cross the bridge at the bottom, then climb a little to East Moors and the tiny church on your right near the phone box.

This small but individual church has many points of interest and is open in the summer months.

Leave the church to continue straight ahead to climb onto the moor. It is a hard but exhilarating ride across the moor with a steep descent to watch out for, but eventually you reach a high vantage point giving good views across to Rudland Rigg with beautiful Bransdale at its foot.

Another steep descent now as you drop down into Bransdale with its lush green fields and quaint farms. Pass through a couple of gates, then keeping straight ahead, you soon reach the end of the valley as the road sweeps to the right over a cattle grid.

Shortly, you have a choice: go left up the steep, narrow hill to visit Bransdale Church which is highly recommended, especially if you enjoy browsing through old books.

Alternatively, carry on your ride following the road to the right signed to Kirkbymoorside.

As you ride the return route along the side of Bransdale, you see a completely different picture from your ascent from Helmsley. The road is very narrow, twisty, undulating and, at times, busy with farm traffic.

Pass through farms with quaint names, you will see Cow Sike, Toad Hole, Smout House and Spout House.

Watch out for a couple of steep ascents and a descent as the road becomes a little less narrow.

Soon you are level with the top of Rudland Rigg on your left. Note the old mine workings on the horizon.

After some hard cycling you pass the end of Rudland Rigg, then leave the moor road over a cattle grid to start a descent on a good cycling surface soon to climb a short hill.

At the top, keep right signed to Fadmoor and Kirkbymoorside. Pass through Fadmoor village, then turn immediately right signed to Sleightholme Dale and Welburn.

Follow this gently descending road for a couple of miles to the crossroads.

Turn right here, signed to Kirkdale and Helmsley, watch out for the steep hill past Kirkdale Caves down to a ford, then ascend past the entrance to Kirkdale Minster.

Cycle along to the A170, keep straight ahead at the junction with the A170, then ride through the villages of Nawton and Beadlam to continue on the A170 back to Helmsley, perhaps stopping off along the way at the Beadlam Grange Farm Shop and Tea Rooms on the left for some refreshment.

The facts

Distance – 25miles/40km
Terrain – Serious
Best Map – OS outdoor Leisure 26
Start/Grid Ref – Helmsley town car park, grid ref: 612338
Parking – Helmsley town car park
Refreshments – Helmsley and along the way at Beadlam Grange Farm Shop and Tea Rooms
Public toilets – Helmsley town and car park

View a map of the cycle ride>>