I’D prepared the text for last month’s ride (Easingwold to Malton, through the Howardian Hills) some months previously, not knowing when it may be published. So for those of you who rode the route last month, I hope you chose a fine day. If you’ve not yet tried it, it will be at its best April-time when the daffodils are out.

Moving forward however, my intention is to match mileage and altitudes with the seasons. So this month’s route is shorter and flatter. Hopefully, just right for February. In fact, I’m incorporating an option to take a short cut and knock a few miles off the distance, if the weather deteriorates mid-ride.

The object is to explore some of the course of the rivers Dove and Seven, both being tributaries of the Rye. However, just to arouse your interest, I must tell you that we are heading for a pre-historic island at the furthest point.

We start at Malton railway station. Malton was a busy market and manufacturing town, (partly due to the river Derwent being navigable to its junction with the Ouse, south of York) long before the York to Scarborough railway line was built in 1845. In fact, the clustering of businesses along the north side of the river occupied all available land and meant that the new railway, and hence the station, needed to be located south of the river, in neighbouring Norton.

The bridge from the station towards Malton town centre was originally a railway bridge, and what is now Railway Street, was actually a short spur or branch off the York to Scarborough line. This served a biscuit factory (now flats) in Railway Street. When this branch fell into decline, the roadway was subsequently laid on top of the rails. So the start of our journey along Railway Street, although not quite a reclaiming of an old railway line for cyclists in the style of Sustrans, it is very much following the old railway route.

Before leaving the station however, I must mention the Whistlestop Café, which you will find on the platform. Open from 7.45am to 2.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday inclusive. You might wish to take on an early cuppa, if you have travelled by car or train. The bacon and egg buns are highly recommended. Excellent value too. Be aware that First TransPennine has signs on the platform outside the café, prohibiting the parking of bikes there, and pointing you to a covered bike shelter visible a few yards away towards the Scarborough end of the platform.

Departing the station towards town, watch for road sign showing a fork off to the right (Wells Lane) direction Helmsley and Pickering. There’s also a brown “National Byway” sign in that direction. Pass in front of the cream-painted Baptist Church and emerging from Wells Lane, you will find the Yorkshire Tea Rooms facing you. Turn left onto Castlegate, and then right at the lights, onto Old Malton Road (the B1257) North East, direction Pickering. This is a busy crossroad, so take care.

After 1.5 miles, go straight ahead, now signed A169 Pickering. Again taking care here because it is an elevated junction above the A64 ring road. Immediately after crossing the A64, take the minor road on the left which takes you past the entrance to Eden Camp Museum, where the road narrows to single track and will remain like this for several miles to come. You are now travelling approximately due North.

Passing Eden Farm to the left, still single track with passing places and then crossing the River Rye on a recently constructed bridge, before arriving at the hamlet of Ryton. Keep left, and drawing level with a farm on the right, you will come across an old signpost indicating Great Habton to the left (two miles). Take this left, onto Ryton Rigg Road, and you are now travelling West, following the course of the River Rye (which is just across the fields to your left) and with excellent wide open-space views to the Howardian Hills in the distance.

Into the village of Great Habton and you’ll meet a T-junction – go right (direction Pickering), past the phone box and next left at the Grapes Inn. I’ve not tried it myself, but The Grapes gets good reports. Passing at lunchtime on a Saturday in mid- January however, it looked very quiet, so check opening times if you intend to visit.

Taking a right at the next junction will take you to Great Barugh, where take the road on the left, signed Normanby and Kirkbymoorside. Its just over two miles to Normanby and a well-deserved rest. Along this stretch however, you’ll notice the flood defence earthworks along the left hand side of the road. The river Seven is immediately beyond, and running parallel with the road. In a short while, the road bends left and then right across the narrow bridge at Normanby. Take care for approaching traffic, although as with all the roads since leaving Malton, you should find things to be pretty quiet.

The welcoming Sun Inn is now on the right. Open for lunch at weekends, otherwise evenings only. There had been a light dusting of snow prior to my Saturday visit mid-January. The big log fire made me linger for a second pint of John Smiths cask. My partner asked for a coffee to keep out the cold and this came very elegantly presented.

The lunch menu started at a very reasonable £3.75 for a burger, right up to steak at £10.95 If not intrigued by the prospect of a pre-historic island, or if the weather isn’t conducive to more miles, there is the option here to “bale out” after lunch, by retracing to the river bridge and taking a right to Salton, where you’ll re-join the main route.

Otherwise, turn right out of the pub and continue to follow the course of the river Seven, north, past the village of Marton, and commence a gentle climb. Take time to look off to the left, as there are good views of the third river valley of the day, being the Dove. You’ll also catch your first sight of our objective for today, the small village of Great Edstone, perched on top of its 72 metre (234ft) mound.

At the end of the Ice Age, melting glaciers on the North York Moors flooded what is now the Vale of Pickering, forming a large lake, with Edstone being an island near the northern shore.

Reaching the crest of the hill and at a point where there are chevrons indicating a turn to the left, do not go as far as the crest, but instead take a single track road to the left to Great Edstone. Having spent most of the day on the flat, this is a quick descent with a right-hand bend at the bottom, so take care. Very soon you are on the short climb up to the village. It is short, so don’t despair if you are not a regular cyclist. In fact, feel free to walk, as I’m going to suggest a short stop at the top anyway.

My dog-eared OS map shows an inn, but sadly the Grey Horse pub closed the year after, in 1991. However, the view is something which cannot be closed down (except perhaps by Yorkshire weather) and the best place to enjoy the view is from the churchyard. So entering the village, there are some new houses and then where the road swings left, stop here and you’ll see the entrance to the church, St Michael’s to your right.

The church is of Saxon origin, and above the door at the south-west corner of the building, you’ll find a Saxon sundial. Somewhat weathered as you might expect, the Latin inscription above the dial reads Orolgium Viatorum (The Wayfarers Clock). Even in January, the view out to the south-west, across the valley of the Dove and onwards to Ryedale, was magnificent. The height here is not great, but the sense of height is. I could easily imagine a lake stretching out before me.

Back to the ride and head straight out of the churchyard, forwards and then the road swings right out of the village and a steep descent, back down into the valley of the Dove. The next two miles or so are straight and gently falling in height, all the way down to the village of Salton. If, like me, you have an interest in these things, the church door at Salton has some notable Norman carvings. Entering the village of Salton, some chevrons will take you round to the right, passing a row of cottages and then swinging left again past the village green.

Attractive Red House Farm faces you, and the church is opposite on the right. The road swings right (approx due South) out of the village. A very pleasant couple of miles now follow towards the village of Brawby. Approaching Brawby, you’ll see a warning sign off to the right regarding Butterwick Bridge. Ignoring Butterwick to the right, continue instead forwards, towards Brawby, running approx due east at this point.

Brawby is an attractive commuter village. At a junction two-thirds of the way through the village, you’ll come across a road sign, phone box, but most importantly a bench, in case you fancy a little breather. Then follow the road as it curves left, signposted Great Barugh.

For the last couple of miles we’ve followed the Dove. We now change back again to the Seven, crossing the river, and turning right, into the village, which we passed through shortly before our stop at the Sun Inn. Through the village and you’ll see the sign for Malton (six-and-a-quarter miles). So take this right, (South) and then it is straight ahead, crossing the Rye for the last time and bringing today’s trio of rivers full circle, all the way to Amotherby.

Finally, meeting the B1257 at Amotherby, it is left for the last couple of miles into town. Since passing Eden Camp early on in this ride, much of the route will have been traffic free, and conducive to riding two abreast. While the B1257 is not the busiest of roads, it is still busy enough for me to recommend single file for this last section.

Fact file

• The Sun Inn, Normanby, Sinnington YO62 6RH
01751 431051

• OS Landranger 100, Malton & Pickering

• Parking in Malton, satnav YO17 7NR. Signed from Railway Street (on left when heading away from station), pay and display

• Full route: 27 miles

• Short route: using Normanby – Salton link: 22 miles approaching Salton from Normanby, you’ll pick up the longer route where reference is made to roadside chevrons (which in this case will come up on your left-hand side). Approaching Salton from Normanby, you’ll pick up the longer route where reference is made to roadside chevrons (which in this case will come up on your left-hand side). Continue straight ahead into Salton village.