IT’S that time of the year when your loved one fancies a Christmas shopping trip, but you’d prefer a run out on your bike.

How are we to reconcile that, and keep everyone happy? Answer: suggest a trip to York, where your partner will of course need some time on their own for “secret shopping” so you kindly volunteer to keep out of the way for a couple of hours.

And so it was that we drove down to the Askham Bar Park&Ride, on the south western outskirts of York, with the bike safely stowed in the back of the car.

Leaving the car park by the main entrance, look out for the cycle path to the right, just beyond the gate.

Follow this to the right, away from the junction, and take a look over your shoulder at the first road sign, just to check you are going the correct way.

The sign (now behind you) should be for the A1036 into York, but you of course are heading out of town.

Follow the path, continuing along the right hand side of the road, and cross the main York-London railway line by a dedicated metal bridge.

Immediately over the bridge, just past a set of traffic lights, the main cycle path runs straight ahead, but instead take the pelican crossing, left, across the A1036. Then follow the path beyond.

Pass under the A64, and you are now running along the right hand side of a minor road into Copmanthorpe. Leave the path and join the carriageway at the village sign.

Stay on this road through the village (ignoring sign for village centre). Watch for finger post ahead to Colton, 2¾ miles. Now in Hallcroft Lane, give way at cross road on fringe of village, then straight ahead, on single track road signed Colton. Once the Roman road from York to Tadcaster, this is now a marked footpath, the Ebor Way.

Through a series of double bends and then pass through Colton village. Left at the T-junction beyond (unsigned). The road rises gradually, and you’ll catch sight of a disused windmill on the horizon.

Now cross two railway lines in quick succession. Firstly, the line to Church Fenton and Leeds. Secondly, the main line to London.

Immediately over the second rail bridge, take a junction to the right, signed Bolton Percy, 1¼ miles. A better view of the Appleton Roebuck Windmill (Grade II listed, early C19th) from here. Right again at the next T and re-cross the East Coast main line.

As you reach the top of the bridge, look 45 degrees left and you may spot the tower of Bolton Percy church in the trees. That’s our next stop.

The road bears left and you reach a junction and (an intriguing) fingerpost on the outskirts of Bolton Percy. Stop here to check the sign. Left is Bolton Percy, 1 mile. Interesting, as we are at Bolton Percy!

Even more surprising was the fact that the sign also indicates “Village Centre 4 miles”. Perhaps that will be corrected by the time you chose to follow the route?

Anyway, turn off left here and follow the lane until you reach the village school on the right, where turn right, onto Main Street.

Straight ahead at the next T-junction is the picturesque All Saints’ Church. Dating from 1424 and Grade I listed, it is open to visitors.

You may be able to see where the choir stalls were knocked about a bit by the Roundheads during the Civil War. A wooden carving of a knight guards the lychgate.

There’s a lot going on for such a small village. Look half left from the lychgate and the half timbered structure is a C15th gatehouse. So go round the outside of the churchyard to the left and follow the short gravel lane in front of a terrace of cottages, to get a closer look.

Here is the next surprise, as tucked away behind the cottages is the Crown Inn. Open Thursday to Sunday lunchtimes only; sadly I’m two days too early.

Retrace to the village school and right at T-junction. Soon after, the road bears right, but here take the cul-de-sac on the left. Don’t worry about the implied “Dead End”, we are on a bike remember; but it does get interesting.

I couldn’t see a street name sign, but maps show it as Oak Avenue. To check you are going the correct way, the last house on the left as you leave the village is called Field House.

As often the case with my preferred routes, we are now on a quiet single track road. Cross the main line railway again, and approach the dead end suggested by the earlier sign.

A private drive goes right, to Bolton Grange, but straight in front is a metal gate. There’s no formal sign I could see, to say that the route ahead is a bridleway (which it is) but take comfort from the fact that the left gate has one of those tall handles to allow horse riders to open it without dismounting.

The single-storey gatehouse here is called Oak Lodge. Go ahead through the gate, and enter a narrow avenue of trees. There were a lot of fallen leaves and debris on the day of my ride, but below was a narrow tarmac road of indeterminate age. Watch out for potholes.

The bridleway then bears to the left and the surface becomes rougher, but still ride-able. The building ahead, maybe 300 yards, is another gatehouse, marking the end of the track.

At the house, go 90 degrees left, through a pillared gateway, to rejoin tarmac. Continue straight ahead, to village of Appleton Roebuck. Here, go right at T-junction.

The route curves left through the village, passing a sign for Acaster Malbis, four miles. At the village green ahead, you’ll find the Shoulder of Mutton. Sam Smiths Old Brewery Bitter only £1.80 a pint. Good selection of sandwiches, and warming open fire too.

Out of the pub, turn left, in the direction of Acaster Malbis, as before. In about a mile and a half, the road bears right, and then take the second of two left junctions, signed Acaster Malbis two miles.

Through the village, a junction right indicates Bishopthorpe (and the Ship Inn). On reaching the Ship Inn, the Ouse had overflowed, such that the road disappeared below water. So it was retrace to the previous junction, right, then right at the next T-junction, and right again at a cross road, now signed Bishopthorpe, 1½ miles. Entering the village, left onto Bridge Road (cul-de-sac), then right at Copmanthorpe Lane.

At the dead end, it’s up onto pavement, to go right of a low brick wall, then immediate left, onto the blue signposted cycleway, Sustrans Route 65, indicating York four miles.

A scale model of the solar system is set out along this disused railway line, and you’ll soon pass the Earth and Moon, on the right. Reaching the Sun (yes, really) keep straight ahead, signed York West.

Under a bridge with some BMX jumps, the path then climbs in a curve to the left. Just before the hedge, look right and you’ll see the Park&Ride buildings.

Date of ride: Tuesday, November 10, 2015.

The map: Ordnance Survey Landranger 105, York & Selby.

The pub: Shoulder of Mutton, Chapel Green, Appleton Roebuck, York YO23 7DP. Tel: 01904 744227. 

The bike: 2003 Cannondale Bad Boy, running on 1.5in slicks.

Distance: 16 miles.

Car parking: Askham Bar Park & Ride, York YO24 1LW. Free. Off the A1036, south of York. Newly-built waiting room and toilet block.