Get in touch: send your photos, videos, news & views by texting YOGAZ to 80360 or send an email»
Cycle ride: Runswick Bay, Staithes and Scaling Dam
THE North York Moors is not renowned for Lake District-type features but one hidden gem that mimics the Lakes in miniature is a narrow road which runs across a ridge with steep precipices on either side, as does Striding Edge on Helvellyn, the difference being about 900 metres in height.
You will ride across our ‘Striding Edge’ as you cycle from Dalehouse to Scaling Dam, but I don‘t recommend you try to ride the one on Helvellyn.
The Northumbrian Water reservoir of Scaling Dam high on the North York Moors between Whitby and Guisborough is no longer used for water extraction. It was built in 1958 covering an area of 105 acres.
Today it is a designated nature reserve and is managed by the Scaling Dam Wildlife Advisory Group. The reservoir is quite shallow, being just nine metres at its deepest point, making it perfect for diving ducks. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Protection Area and a Special Area of Conservation.
The reservoir didn’t have a very long life, as it was turned into a nature conservation and recreation area in 1972. As well as birdwatching, sailing and fishing are allowed on the water. There is a visitor centre serving hot and cold drinks at the western end of the reservoir.
Being close to the East Coast, it is a haven for migrant birds during the winter when fishing and sailing on the lake are not allowed.
Not only are common fowl attracted to the water but rarer breeds of grebe, goosander and common scoter can sometimes be seen.
With the commercial use of the lake ended aquatic and marginal flora have improved, complementing the surrounding marshland and heathland. In the grassy meadows surrounding the lake rare plants in the orchid family flourish, as do a growing amount of butterflies and moths. If you pay Scaling Dam a visit, don’t restrict your view to the immediate lake area but search the sky above where you may see harriers, buzzards and falcons competing for an easy meal. And if you are really lucky you might just spot a red kite above.
Leave the car park at Runswick Bay to go left along the road to Hinderwell. At the junction in Hinderwell village, turn right signed to Saltburn and Teesside to ride through the village to the church on the right. Hinderwell’s name is derived from St Hilda’s Well, which is where she stopped to drink on her way to Whitby Abbey. The well is in the churchyard.
If you intend to visit the well, turn right here onto the Port Mulgrave road, then enter the churchyard by the gate on the left. Return to the road again and head off towards Staithes, as you leave the village, turn left signed to Dalehouse, Borrowby and Roxby. Take care now the descent is very steep.
Pass the Fox and Hounds Inn or take some refreshments, then cross the bridge over Staithes Beck to turn immediately right along a narrow road called Ridge Lane, the reason for the name will be revealed later.
Quite a steep ascent now on this slippery, sometimes poorly surfaced muddy road. As you ascend watch out for steep rises and falls as you work your way to the top. Now you see why the road is called Ridge Lane, as this road is the cyclist’s version of Striding Edge on Helvellyn in the Lake District. If you have time to look around, you will see Easington Beck beneath you on your right and Roxby Beck way beneath you on your left.
At last you reach the A171, go left here signed to Whitby and Scarborough. Soon you pass the car park for the Scaling Dam Nature Reserve on your right where you could take a break and make use of the refreshment facilities provided, alternatively you could cycle along to the west end to the visitor centre.
Leave Scaling Dam to continue along towards Whitby. As you crest the hill, turn left onto the B1266 signed to Robin Hood’s Bay, Hinderwell and Sandsend. In three miles, just after the crest of a small hill, turn left at the sign for Ellerby. Grand views to the coast now as you cycle along to Ellerby village, at the junction keep straight ahead past The Ellerby Inn, a fine place for a meal.
At the main road go left, then right to return to the clifftop car park at Runswick Bay.
Distance – 13 miles (21km)
Terrain – Mainly narrow country roads, some very steep. Narrow with steep drops either side in parts
Best maps – OS Outdoor Leisure 27
Start/grid ref – Runswick Bay cliff top car park, grid ref 808161
Refreshments – Fox and Hounds at Dalehouse, Scaling Dam car park and Scaling Dam visitor centre at the west end of the reservoir
Public toilets – Runswick Bay car park, Staithes car park, Scaling Dam car park at the east end of the reservoir and Scaling Dam visitor centre at the west end