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Cycle ride at Settle in the Yorkshire Dales
SETTLE in the Yorkshire Dales lies low in the valley on the east bank of the River Ribble and there is a naked man lurking in the town.
It is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills and has for its background Castleberg, a mass of limestone rock towering above the town more than 300 feet high.
This huge of rock stands out boldly against the rising fells behind it. Castleberg probably had a castle on top at one time or at least some form of fortification.
In the 18th century, the main employment in Settle was cotton spinning and mills were built or converted from corn mills to meet the demand for the valuable thread. Cottages were built in the town, as well as weaving sheds and other infrastructure concerned with the industry which had access to water power from the Ribble.
The market place in Settle is quaint, spoiled only by the constant flow of traffic through the town. Several buildings are of note especially around the market which has been a regular feature in Settle since it was granted by King Henry III in 1249.
The Shambles or small market was built later as an open market in 1600. Not far from the Shambles is The Folly, a large ornate house of some character with large stone mullions.
It was built in the 17th century as a gentleman’s residence. Many years ago it was empty and reaching a state of dereliction. It was later used as a fish restaurant but has now been renovated and listed as Grade I.
But what has all this history to do with a naked man? Is he naked as ‘in the altogether’? There are many meanings of the word naked – unadorned, undisguised, stark and others.
I believe this man was probably unprepared, naked of arms and protection, which is why he was more than likely in medieval times to have been robbed and murdered in the inn while he slept, being naked of all his defences.
You will find his image carved in stone on a wall in Settle. See what you think of him.
If you want to cheat and find out where he lives before you have done the ride, read the text at the end of the route instructions.
Leave Settle market place on the main road heading north, before you leave the town, turn right signed to Langcliffe, Stainforth and Horton on the B6479.
Pass through Lancliffe and a short ride takes you to Stainforth. Turn right immediately you reach Stainforth signed to Halton Gill.
Pass over the bridge, then when the road goes left, you must bear right, almost straight ahead, signed to Halton Gill and Arncliffe.
Start a long, stiff climb as you leave Stainforth and eventually you reach the top with grand views to the dales fells.
Start to descend, then in a couple of hundred yards, turn right at the Malham sign. Quite a steep descent now before a very steep and long ascent. These roads are all narrow and rough at times.
At the junction go left, then in about a mile, go right signed to High Strenhouse.
Shortly, you reach a crossroad, keep straight ahead here with a sign for the Yorkshire Dales Cycleway. Pass an old mining chimney on the right and glimpses of Malham Tarn away to your left.
In about a mile-and-a-half, follow the road around a sharp right bend at the sign for Malham.
The narrow road climbs for a while, then starts a severe descent with tight bends and eventually you reach a junction. Go right here signed village centre.
As you enter Malham, pass the Lister Arms, then cross a fine bridge. If you would like to go to the Old Hall Tea Rooms for refreshments, turn right here, the tea rooms are 100 yards along the road, if not, then go left signed to Settle and Skipton.
The wide road soon narrows and deteriorates with stone walls close to the road on both sides and some rather severe corners.
Soon you descend into Kirkby Malham. Continue along through the village and in about one mile, you reach Airton, but look out for a small sign as you enter the village directing you to Settle.
Turn right here and enjoy a fine ride with good views across to some grand fells in the distance.
The road rises, falls, twists and turns as you climb to a junction, keep straight ahead here and continue climbing to the top where the views are superb to the fells in the distance and the unusual shapes of the nearby hills.
Soon you start a long, twisty, slippery descent into Settle. Watch out for the cobblestones in Settle and continue cycling to the market place.
If you haven’t found the naked man yet his effigy is also in the market place on the wall of the Naked Man Café, once an inn. He is waiting for you to join him for a cup of tea.
Distance – 21miles/34km
Terrain – Rough and narrow roads with steep ascents and descents
Best map – OS Outdoor Leisure 10
Start/grid ref – Settle Market Square, grid ref: 816638
Refreshments – Settle cafes and pubs: Old Hall Tea Rooms or Lister Arms at Malham
Public toilets – Settle as directed and Malham public car park