FOR the last two editions, I’d been under the editor’s instructions to cycle parts of the Tour de Yorkshire route.

This month I’ve been allowed back to a route of my own choosing, so I decided to do two things. First; there’ll be no hills. Second; I’ll include a pub stop. I hope you approve.

So it was early in April, and blessed with some unseasonably fine weather, that I made a start from Easingwold.

Of course I enjoyed a Big Breakfast at Clarks on the corner of Little Lane (one way and no entrance from Long Street, but it’s just a short walk) and the Market Place. Better than usual actually as they had a free coffee offer, meaning I got the Full English, including coffee, for only £5.15.

From Clarks, retrace along Little Lane back to Long Street, and turn right (north) to the mini-roundabout on the outskirts of town. Watch out for the little blue and red National Cycle Network (NCN) signs and take a left, onto Raskelf Road.

Before leaving town, I couldn’t resist a little bit of history, so I turned left again into Knott Lane. Actually, the sign you’ll see first and more easily, says Station Court. Is that a clue?

A short way down Knott Lane, and among modern housing, the imposing Victorian building on the right is worth a look. Now a private house, the name on the plaque says The Old Station House. In reality, this was originally the Station Hotel. The branch line to Easingwold was built in 1891, and the Station Hotel followed in 1892. As you face the front door of the old hotel, the station building would have been just to the right, with the line running more or less parallel to Knott Lane.

Retrace and turn left, back onto Raskelf Road. Leaving town you’ll follow the NCN Route numbered 657, signposted as Helperby and Boroughbridge. The biggest hill of the day now occurs as we cross the A19, Easingwold bypass, and continue into the village of Raskelf.

In the centre of the village I noticed a sign saying New Cafe and Shop. Always worth checking these things out, so I followed the sign right, into Thirsk Road.

I was approaching the edge of the village and thinking I’d missed it. Fortunately, I persevered. The big green teapot was a bit of a give away. I’d found the Purple Partridge. Open 10 til 6, but closed Tuesdays. Apparently they’ll open earlier if a group wishes to pre-book breakfast. Tel 01347 823030. I’d only done about three miles at this point so settled for a Flat White coffee at £2.10 which I enjoyed in the warm sunshine at the outside seating, with views over the Howardian Hills. No rush today!

Retrace to the crossroads in the centre of Raskelf and turn right, in the direction of Boroughbridge. Before Boroughbridge, we arrive at the twin villages of Brafferton and Helperby. The latter is the name which makes it onto most road signs though.

My intended route was to turn right, outside the Oak Tree Inn, but that would mean not seeing what is a really interesting village. So even though I’ve been many times before, the several year gap since my last trip encouraged me to continue forwards.

Follow the road round a left curve, and there are several sights to see. The old Golden Lion pub on the left, now sadly closed and to let. The interesting sign is still there though.

Opposite the pub on the right of the road is an Artesian Well dated 1897. Beyond the Well and still to the right are Almshouses, with their clock tower, before finally reaching The Old Hall, last building on the right at the end of the village.

I retraced back along the village high street, curving now right, and back to the Oak Tree Inn, where left, in the direction of Boroughbridge. About three quarters of a mile further on I came across a Road Closed sign.

The road was closed by substantial fencing and beyond that, I could see that the bridge over the River Swale at Thornton Manor was shrouded in scaffolding. There are not too many crossings of the River Swale to be had around here.

As I sit writing this, I am aware that the bridge is open again. So all being well, you can cross the bridge and turn immediately left, to follow the road to Boroughbridge. However, if work has re-commenced, or indeed if it’s a fine dry day and you fancy a little adventure, you can follow what became my “Plan B”.

Returning to the twin village, and at what is the “elbow” in the road between the Brafferton end and the Helperby end, watch out for a small residential lane called Bridge Street.

It’s also signed as leading to St Peter’s Church. I’d remembered a route I’d followed maybe 20 years ago. St Peter, in addition to his fishy interests, is also apparently the patron saint of Bridge Builders. Bridge Street; the clue is in the name.

At first, Bridge Street appears to be a dead end; but not for bikes. Follow the path to the right hand side of a wooden fence. This is a bridleway, open to cyclists, and leads across a field and to a good metal footbridge over the river. On the far side, the path runs between hedges. It then splits. Take the left fork, out from the hedges and now following the right hand side of a field. You then meet a larger track. To the left this is marked as private, so keep right here. Ahead you’ll see a farm (Burton Grange), so keep following the track towards it. Arriving at Burton Grange, you rejoin tarmac again.

Passing Burton Grange, watch out for the brick built house opposite, on the right. This is an old railway building. We are crossing the route of the old line to Boroughbridge, and Ripon. Left at the T-junction, then look out for a lane signed to Humberton.

Go left down here for only a few yards and you’ll come to another railway building, (Lilac Cottage) this time with the platform still in situ. Retrace to the Humberton sign and left to rejoin the road, continuing in the direction of Boroughbridge. Pass through the attractive hamlet of Milby and left at the next T which brings you to a roundabout on the northern outskirts of Boroughbridge. Pause here to view the canal below to the left and the road then crosses the River Ure, which has found its way down here from Wensleydale.

Left at the Crown Hotel, straight for 200 yards, and there are public toilets in the car park which is indicated now straight ahead of you. Follow the road as it curves right, and through the main shopping area. There are two cafes worth a mention, both to your right. First, the local Gilchrists Bakery also does snacks. Second, a little further on, is Tasty Snacks.

The road curves to the left, around St James Square, and head out of town with Tasty Snacks behind you. Where the road then curves right, take the Aldborough Road, on the left. There are some blue & red NCN signs at this junction, indicating our next direction of travel, left, following part of the Way of the Roses route In Aldborough, you’ll find the Battle Cross on the small green to the right. A blue plaque tells the story. Keep left, passing in front of the house with the half timbered first floor, and out of the village, where the road narrows to single track.

The next few miles are pleasantly quiet. Through the villages of Lower then Upper Dunsforth, and into Great Ouseburn, where keep left, up the high street. Towards the far end of the village, keep a look-out on the left for the blue plaque telling the story of an air crash in 1942.

Out of the village and take the first left onto Boat Lane. We now arrive at the privately owned toll bridge, Aldwark Bridge, across the River Ure. Bikes are free, but the toll collector appreciates a cheery wave of thanks.

Take care over the bridge as the planks are somewhat loose. It’s also narrow, so keep out from the edge, to dissuade cars seeking to pass.

On the far side, take the first right. This takes us past RAF Linton on Ouse. Flying Lancasters and Halifax during the war, this is now a pilot training school, using Tucano aircraft. These take off and climb immediately over the road, so can be quite exciting. Through Linton, and just beyond the far end of the village look for signs on the right indicating Linton Lock and Marina. Even if you’ve taken an earlier lunch, this is still worth a short detour. I’d not eaten, as Linton Lock was my destination.

Follow the stony track, which provides access to a caravan site. Over the hump back flood defence, and fork right, where you’ll see the lock ahead.

Close by the lock is Lock House, which is a cafe and pub. Open the normal sort of pub hours, but closed Monday in winter. I enjoyed a cheese and onion sandwich, accompanied by a pint of Worthington, all for £5.85.

The owners of Lock House welcome cyclists but aren’t keen on bikes cluttering up the garden area.

Suitably refreshed, retrace to the road, where turn right, continuing in the same direction as before, to the next village, Newton on Ouse. Keep left at the village green, (signed to York) then quickly taking a junction on the left, signed Tollerton 2¾ In just over a mile, give way at a T junction and take the left. If you are going in the right direction, you’ll shortly see a white painted windmill conversion, ahead to the left. Keep straight on to (and through) Tollerton.

There’s a small finger post pointing in the direction of Alne, but this is easily missed. Just don’t turn off in Tollerton and you’ll be fine.

In another mile you reach a crossroads where a NCN route crosses, left to right. Turn right and into Alne.

Follow the double bends through Alne. Just beyond, there’s a road off to the right, Forest Lane, signposted to York. Ignore that, but instead continue ahead as before, past some cottages on the right, and shortly you reach Alne Station. Closed in 1964 when the east coast main line was modernised, there’s not much to see.

Easy navigation now and simply follow the road, through a large double bend in another mile or so, and ignoring smaller lanes off to the side. This brings you back into Easingwold, turning right onto Raskelf Road where you’d left town earlier.

Bike safely packed into the back of the car, there was one thing left to do. A pot of tea at Fine Foods of Yorkshire, about half way up Long Street, which was much needed following my ride in the warm spring sunshine.

Maps: Ordnance Survey Landranger. Numbers 100 Malton & Pickering, and 99 Northallerton

Pub: Lock House, Linton Lock, Linton on Ouse, YORK YO30 2AZ Tel. 01347 848844

Bike: 1976 Jack Taylor, Tour of Britain model. Hand built in Stockton on Tees

The end: Fine Foods of Yorkshire (Deli & Cafe) 107 Long Street, Easingwold Tel. 01347 823606 Distance 33 miles (including abortive 1 ½ mile detour to Thornton Manor Bridge & back)