THE first half of January was cold and damp, with snow on higher ground, so my first two rides out this year saw me sticking close to home.

However, despite the temperature being just above freezing, I was encouraged by winter sunshine to try my luck on the third Saturday, with a ride starting and finishing in Easingwold.

In addition to visiting Byland Abbey, we’ll also see the influences of two important local families, the Fauconbergs, the local aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries (Earl Fauconberg rebuilt Coxwold church in 1777) and their relations, the Wombwells (the Lords of the Manor in the 19th century).

Today’s ride is short, as befits the limited hours of daylight, but it is gently undulating so you’ll get some exercise. There are also some single track roads to get you away from the traffic and giving an opportunity for quite enjoyment of the scenery.

Leaving the car on the main road through Easingwold, my first stop was at Clarks bakery and cafe, at the South Western corner of the Market Place (Little Lane) for a warming bacon roll and coffee. Then heading for the diagonally opposite corner of the market place, passing The George Hotel on the right, and leave the market place going North on Spring Street.

Climb gently and where the road curves right you’ll see the short and unusual street name sign on the bank ahead, simply saying Uppleby. Follow the finger post indicating the direction of Malton and note the 18th and 19th century houses to either side as you continue to climb out of town.

Watch for a junction to the left, (Oulston Road), signed to Oulston and Coxwold. Follow this to leave the town behind, gaining height all the time. Oulston Road curves gently right, levels out, then turns sharp left (avoiding small lane signed to Crayke).

As you climb gently to the next corner, look into the field on the right towards Swallow Nest Farm. On a larger scale OS Explorer map (1:25,000 scale) this field is named as Beggar’s Bed. This was one of several parcels of land in the vicinity of Coxwold village (where we are heading in due course) owned by the Fauconberg family, where the rent generated went to the poor of the parish.

Left at the next cross road and climb up to the village of Oulston. Look for the white and black family crest set in the front wall of a cottage to the right. The intertwined initials GOW are topped by a unicorn. George Orby Wombwell was a survivor of the Charge of the Light Brigade. He reached the Russian guns where his horse was shot from under him and he was captured; but later escaped. Watch out for more of these crests as today’s ride progresses. Each one carries a different date, presumably marking the date of construction of the various properties.

Continuing in the direction of Coxwold, we soon pass the gateway (on right) to Newburgh Priory, once George’s home.

Descend now into Coxwold and right at cross roads, direction Byland Abbey. The remains of the Cistercian Abbey are owned by English Heritage and open to visitors. Take a left here, onto a single track road to Oldstead. Reaching the Black Swan Inn on a junction, take the left, signed back to Coxwold. The road gets even narrower, and the surface deteriorates, so proceed with care.

The route undulates and I encountered a lot of ice along here, so walked several sections. After just under two miles and having passed through a farmyard, I emerged once again onto a smooth surface, to turn left at a T-junction and back into Coxwold, past St Michael’s Church. Good old George Wombwell is buried here. So are several of the Fauconberg family, and the church is well worth a look. Note also the unusual octagonal tower.

The Cyclists’ Touring Club (CTC) organises an annual church service at St Michaels. Originally conceived to commemorate fallen cyclists after the First World War, the 90th event will take place on Sunday, May 8, 2016, with refreshments in the village hall from 11am and the service at St Michaels starting at 1.30pm. About 300 cyclists from all over the north usually attend and everyone is welcome.

Look out for another GOW crest as you pass down Coxwold high street. On the left you’ll find the Fauconberg Arms. I resisted temptation today, as the temperature was falling, and somehow I just didn’t fancy a cold beer. Maybe you’ll visit on a warmer day?

Continue down to the cross road where we turned for Byland Abbey, earlier in the ride, but this time take a right, signed Husthwaite and Easingwold. Just beyond the village look for the old signal box on the left. Now in the garden of a private house, you can also see the remains of what would have been the platform of Coxwold station. The line originally ran from Pilmoor Junction on the main East Coast line, past Coxwold and into Ryedale, to Malton. It was actually closed to passenger traffic in 1953, so we can’t blame Dr Beeching too much for this one. He simply finished the job in 1964, by closing the line to what freight traffic had remained.

Continue for another mile and a half to climb into Husthwaite. Here, turn right onto High Street, signed for Helperby and Boroughbridge. (The road to Easingwold is actually signed as straight on, but we’ll detour through Husthwaite for a quick look at the village). Watch for the church on the right, and here you’ll find a small village green on the left. A fingerpost on the village green indicates Easingwold four miles. Look for the half timbered Black Bull Cottage (1570). Follow the sign for Easingwold.

In just over two miles, the road bends first right and then left, with minor roads off at each of these corners; which ignore. You’ll now enter the North Western corner of Easingwold, meeting the main road, at an angled T-junction. Turn left and pass the school, being aware of sleeping policemen and other ramps designed to slow vehicular traffic. Straight over a mini roundabout (with care, it can be busy here). You are now back on Long Street. I finished off the day by turning left into the Market Place to have a warming pot of tea before Clarks cafe closed.

Date of ride

Saturday, January 16

The map

Ordnance Survey Landranger. Number 100 Malton & Pickering

The pub

The Fauconberg Arms, Coxwold, YO61 4AD

Tel. 01347 868214,, open noon to 3pm.

The bike

2003 Cannondale Bad Boy. Running on 1.5” slicks.


18 miles.

Car parking

Roadside parking on Long Street, Easingwold (free)