AFTER easier ride, I thought we should return to something a little hillier. Also, a start and finish in Malton, which hopefully will suit more readers.

For the first half of the ride we will take advantage of cycle route signage provided by Sustrans and follow part of route numbered 166, the Yorkshire Wolds cycleway.

The furthest point today will be the small hamlet of Thixendale, high on the Wolds, about 7½ miles (as the crow flies) south east from Malton. We’ll take the scenic route, so somewhat further going out and then direct back.

My dictionary of English place names tells me that Thixendale was registered in the Doomsday Book (1086) as Sixtendale, from the old Scandinavian and meaning the Valley of a man called Sigsteinn.

Turn right out of the car park onto St Nicholas Street, Norton, to the T-junction with Welham Road, where turn left, out of town. This is the same route out towards Stamford Bridge, as followed by stage two of the Tour de Yorkshire, back in May, and as described in my article which appeared that month.

This time, however, look for Watts quarry on the left after a mile and then take the next right, to the hamlet of Menethorpe (Sustrans Route No.166).

Flat at first and then descending on this pleasant single track road, you’ll pass a Road Narrows sign and into a double bend. Cross a stream, passing between white painted fences. Keep right through Menethorpe, and in 100 yards watch for a car parking space on the right, as the road turns 90 degrees left.

Here you can take a detour, on foot, along the path to the right (signed Centenary Walk) which will take you down to the pedestrian suspension bridge (1886) across the River Derwent to Huttons Ambo. The path is quite narrow, with vegetation encroaching in summer, but it’s not far to the river.

Return to Menethorpe Lane and continue in the same direction as previously, now heading due south for half a mile. Pass through shady trees and give way at a T-junction. Turn right (marked Yorkshire Wolds route 166) and the road climbs gently. Ignore the next cycleway sign for Kirkham, off to the right, and instead keep left, signed Westow half a mile. Here, the Blacksmith’s Arms does a nice sandwich. I had a chicken and bacon ciabatta, with chips and salad, plus a pint of York Brewery Guzzler, all for about £10.

Beyond the pub, look for the sign to the church and Burythorpe to the left. Follow this out of the village, heading east and it becomes quite narrow, so no traffic encountered. However, watch out for rough surfaces beneath some patches of overhanging trees.

Descend to cross Howl Beck, then straight over the next cross road and in one mile you get a good view of Burythorpe Church ahead. Give way at the T-junction here and turn right, to village of Leavening. Approaching the village, look half left to see a modern communications mast on the ridge above. We’ll be heading up there shortly.

Go left at the cross road in the centre of Leavening onto Main Street, and passing the Farmers Arms (open weekend lunches only), and a steep climb (Leavening Brow) follows to the top of the Wold. I had a short walk which allowed me to enjoy the views of Ryedale off to the left.

The road splits. Straight on looks more gentle, (and is in fact signposted to Thixendale) so perversely take the right turn, signed Pocklington 11 miles, to climb a little further. There’s a reason for this, and I’ll explain later. We are now on the old Roman Road from Malton to Brough, (an important Roman naval station) on the River Humber. Continue straight, keeping on the top of the Wold.

Being a clear day, I had good views across the Vale of York to the right, including the cooling towers at Selby in the distance. We are on Hanging Grimston Wold, and it’s even signposted off to the right. Nothing to do with execution of highwaymen, Hanging Grimston was a medieval village mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

About 2½ miles along the Wold from the Pocklington sign, take a left, signposted Thixendale two miles. Be careful not to miss this turn, which looks like it might only be a farm track, and the sign (on the right) is overgrown by bushes. Very soon, you pass right through the centre of Martindale Farm (well, I did say this looked like a farm track). Beyond the farm, the vista opens out to each side as you begin to descend the ridge into Thixendale. Keep right for the Cross Keys pub (if it’s a weekend). Pass the village hall then watch for dead end road on left. Worth a quick look at the outside, even if closed. An idyllic situation. Otherwise, last chance for refreshments is the village shop.

Return to the junction by the village hall where you entered Thixendale, but instead of re-climbing the ridge you arrived on, now keep right, along the valley floor. This is Water Dale, and gives a really attractive (and very gentle until the last few hundred yards) three-mile climb back up to the top of the Wold.

I brought you in the steep way, but am taking you out the gentle way. Makes sense now? Reaching the summit, you’ll find a large farmhouse on the left, then the road drops through some mature woods to quickly arrive at a cross road. Take the right turn, and a fast downhill, to the country estate of Birdsall.

Note the various estate buildings, as the road skirts to the right of the parkland and you get a good view of the front of Birdsall House to the left. Built by the Sotherby family after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1540, it has remained in the private ownership of the Willoughby family since the 18th century. Navigation back to Norton is now a simple matter of following the general course of the road, and not turning off anywhere. Beyond Birdsall is a gentle climb to a cross road, where give way, then straight over, signed Malton three miles. One final little blip of a climb, and then it’s downhill all the way.

Into Norton, following the general flow of the road, watch for a mid-brown brick terrace of Victorian cottages with red roofs to the right, and you’ll also see there a blue Yorkshire Wolds cycleway sign, indicating left. Turn here and you are back on St Nicholas Street, where you started out.

The map - Ordnance Survey Landranger. Number 100 Malton, Pickering

The Pub(s) - The Blacksmiths Arms, Westow, YO60 7NE. 01653 619606. Cross Keys, Thixendale, YO17 9TG (weekend lunchtimes only) 01377 288272

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

Distance - 23.4 miles

Car park - St Nicholas Street, Norton upon Derwent, YO17 9AQ. Just south of Malton railway crossing (free)