This is my last cycling article which will be published in the Gazette & Herald as I am leaving to concentrate on my passion for writing books. I find there is just not time to do both. I hope you have enjoyed my monthly cycle rides as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Hidden away from the busy main street a beautiful, historic church stands in a prominent position on the edge of the Howardian Hills. The exact date the church was built is lost in time but a good guess would be around 1250AD, a popular time for the building of many of our churches. It sits nearby a once powerful castle, which would have had a strong influence in Yorkshire being a favourite of Richard III. The church is at Sheriff Hutton and is dedicated to St.Helen & the Holy Cross.

St.Helen (St.Helana) was the mother of Constantine the Great who was born in 274AD. After twenty years of marriage to her husband Constantius Claudius she was divorced to allow her husband to marry again into higher society.

She was admired and loved by her son Claudius who, after becoming ruler of the Roman Empire relaxed his views on Christianity and allowed Christians to practice their faith. Helen was a practising Christian and with the relaxation of persecution she spread the Christian word building churches in Rome, Palestine and Bethlehem amongst many others.

In the year 326AD Helen, an active octogenarian proceeded to Jerusalem to search for the Holy Cross of Christ. She searched without success for many months questioning Jews and Christians. But at last she was given a name of a person called Jude(or Judas) who knew where the cross was buried. He told her to dig beneath the pagan temple.

With the help of her son Constantine she demolished the pagan building and excavated the mound. Jude had told her the Holy Cross was in a ditch beneath the mound covered with stones. The excavation revealed three crosses and the four nails of Christ – but which was the Holy Cross?

Only the performing of a miracle would reveal the truth. They brought a sick and dying woman to the crosses, as she passed one of the crosses she rose from her bed and walk away, cured of her disease. A further test was carried with a recently buried corpse of a man, he was touched by the three crosses and the Holy Cross of Christ brought him back to life. Another historian recorded that neither of these tales were true as the inscription placed on the cross by the Romans was still attached!

On this great discovery Constantine ordered a Basilica to be built on the mound where the excavation took place with the atrium of the Basilica placed over the exact place where the Holy Cross was found. The Holy Cross itself was erected in glory in an oratory inside the Basilica.

In honour of his mother Constantine called her home town Helenopolis, she died around 330AD . After her body had lain in a vault in Constantinople it is thought that her remains were taken to the Abbey of Hautvillers where she would have been revered as a Saint.


Your Route


Leave Malton Market Place to ride along Market Street to the junction with Yorkersgate. Turn right here to cycle uphill past the Talbot Hotel then turn right along castle Howard Road sign to Coneysthorpe and Terrington. It is a long, gentle climb along Castle Howard Road but you will hardly notice the effort as commanding scenery almost immediately surrounds you.

Enjoy the tremendous view across to the Mausoleum on your left a little further along as you cycle along into the heart of the Howardian Hills. Descend into the pretty village of Coneysthorpe, past the old woodyard and on to the crossroads at Castle Howard Drive.

Turn left here signed to Castle Howard to ride along the straight, undulating road past the lake and the grand house in the distance to soon reach the Obelisk. Continue along straight ahead then shortly ride through the arch at the gatehouse then descend along The Stray to another archway. A long climb in front of you now keeping straight ahead at the Welburn crossroads to eventually reach the fine Earl of Carlisle’s Monument at the top of the hill.

Downhill now with lots of severe bends and indifferent surfaces for you to watch out for as you descend towards the A64. Just before you reach the A64 turn right signed to Foston and Thornton le Clay. Enjoy the grand views across to the Howardian Hills and you soon arrive at the tiny village of Foston.

Continue along through the village on this easy riding country road to the village of Thornton le Clay, bearing left through the village then right past the White Swan Inn and soon you are out into the countryside again. You soon arrive at a t-junction, go right here signed to Lilling and Sheriff Hutton onto a good, wide road which takes you to West Lilling.

Continue through the village following signs for Sheriff Hutton to a t-junction, turn right here signed to Terrington and Hovingham. Take time to explore Sheriff Hutton and its Castle ruin. Don’t forget to visit the church which is signed from the crossroads in the village centre. Turn right along Main Street, past the pub then onto Church End, keep on this road then bear right to find the church, which as the road implies, is at the end of the street!

Return to the village crossroads when you have finished admiring the church and turn right to the small roundabout. Keep straight on here signed to Hovingham and Terrington. Good views now across to the Howardian Hills as you descend into the valley with its long, straight road, but watch out for the double bends and narrow bridge at the farm.

Eventually you start to ascend, quite steeply at times to arrive at a t-junction. Go right here signed to Terrington and Malton. Pass Yorkshire Lavender on your right, or stop off for a ‘cuppa’ before cycling along to Terrington village.

Leave the village and in less than a mile turn left signed to Malton and Slingsby. Cycle along through grand countryside to eventually reach the Castle Howard Drive crossroads. Go left here along the undulating road taking care descending the final hill to the Slingsby crossroads. Turn right onto the B1257 now signed to Malton. Continue along this good road for about six miles to the traffic lights at Malton. Turn right here with care then soon left to return to the Market Place.

The Facts

Distance - 30miles/48km

Terrain - Undulating with a couple of steep hills

Best Map - OS Landranger 100

Start/grid Ref. - Malton, GR788717

Parking - Wentworth Street public car park

Refreshments - Castle Howard, Pub at Sheriff Hutton, Yorkshire Lavender near Terrington, Malton

Public Toilets - Malton near car park and market place

Guide Book - Cycling through History across Yorkshire by J.Brian Beadle is an e-book which I have just published in the Kindle bookstore. It contains 40 great cycle rides across the county