AS with last month, I had to take my chances when I could, and chose to ride on one of the few fine days. This meant that I couldn’t take advantage of my pub of choice, the Gold Cup at Nether Silton, as it is closed on weekday lunchtimes. So I recommend you try this route on a Sunday.

Today’s ride is mainly flat, but with a couple of short sharp undulations along the section below the escarpment of the Hambleton Hills.

Starting in Thirsk market place, the first port of call is a cafe, York’s of Thirsk. This is a proper cyclists’ cafe. In that it is run by a cyclist, there is cycling memorabilia around the walls, and you can even get energy bars. Personally, I’d rather have beans on toast. So I did.

Out of the cafe, turn right and right again; to leave the market place on the B1448 north (signed A168 Northallerton). You’ll pass the James Herriot museum along here. Remember All Creatures Great & Small?

At the church, turn left onto Cemetery Road, out of town, and then right at T-junction onto Newsham Road. Ahead for two miles, then watch for the ornamental gateway on the right. This is Thornton Park (Stud). It’s a private road and indeed, the main gate will be padlocked, but use the pedestrian gate to the left hand side as this is a bridleway, and open to cyclists. Don’t stray from the Tarmac road. Cross a cattle grid and through parkland to a T-junction (no markings) where over to the left you’ll see the main Stud building, but keep right, and away from it. Cross two more cattle grids, and then ahead you’ll see the twin gatehouses at the far end of the estate. Turn left, briefly onto the A168, and then right after about 200 yards, signed for Knayton.

Across a bridge, then first left (unsigned), but follow a subsequent sign, still in direction of Knayton. Through farmland, and beyond you’ll come to an unsigned T-junction, where take the left, keeping away from the busy A19 which you’ll see off to the right.

Straight over the next crossroad, now signed Borrowby one mile. Take the next left fork into Borrowby village and a stiff (but short) climb up to the Wheatsheaf pub, where go right, signed Cowesby 2 ½ miles. Keep straight on, and through an underpass, beneath the A19.

Pass Woundales farm on the left, and then descend to a beck running close on the right hand side. Take care for the next 200 yards, as the beck is prone to flooding and I encountered sand and debris from recent rains.

At the next T-junction, go left (watching out for geese) and then immediately left again, signed Silton. The road rises gently, and then amuse yourself (or companions) by watching out for a sign to Aysgarth Falls car park.

For those who don’t already know, Aysgarth is some 30 miles away to the west. At the next junction, Cowesby is signed to the right, but we take the left fork which was unsigned at the time of my visit. In half a mile turn right at T-junction, signed Nether Silton, 1¼.

Descend gently and watch for a junction on the right, to complete our journey to Nether Silton, up another short climb. If you plan your ride for a Sunday, you can enjoy a refreshing pint at the Gold Cup, which is at exactly half distance.

Continue through the village, curving right (i.e. turning south now for the return leg) and a long descent, following signs for Kepwick and Cowesby. This is a narrow road. Watch out for (and give way to) horses.

There’s a short climb into Kepwick village, where pause at the T-junction to note the entrance to Kepwick Hall (1873), on the left. Further back, in Norman times, the land was held by the Fauconberg family, who we encountered on last months ride around Coxwold. Bear right at this T-junction and pass through the length of Kepwick village, then left at junction, in direction of Cowesby. Here, start to follow signs for Kirby Knowle.

Beyond Cowesby, you’ll find another imposing house, Cowesby Hall (1832).

At Kirby Knowle, follow for the sign for Upsall (1 mile), pass the church on your right and then keep straight ahead out of the village. Tackling a short climb, look across to the right for yet another imposing building. On the hillside is Kirby Knowle castle, which is said to have been visited by Mary Queen of Scots on several occasions.

Arriving at Upsall, you’ll notice the boundary wall of our final castle of the day on the left hand side. The original castle is believed to have been destroyed in the Civil War, and the site is presently occupied by what might better be described as a manor house. More interesting, however, is the fact that this little village (no shop, no pub, just a handful of houses) actually has a town hall (1928). Nearby, the old forge is marked Upsall Town 1859. Pause to have a look at these inscriptions. I’ve never been able to get to the bottom of the history here.

Continue in the same direction as before, now following the sign for South Kilvington (curving south) and downhill out of the village (or should I say Town?). In about three miles, go beneath the A19, to meet the A61 at a mini-roundabout. Go left, in direction of Thirsk. As you leave the village, watch out for a cycle path on the grass verge to the right of the road. Crossing over to this will give you a safe run back into Thirsk.


Date of ride: Thursday. February 11, 2016

The map: Ordnance Survey Landranger. Number 99 Northallerton & Ripon, plus No.100 Malton & Pickering

The pub: Gold Cup Inn, Nether Silton, Thirsk, YO7 2JZ. 01609 883416 or Open from 4pm Saturday, or from noon, Sunday.

The bike: 2003 Cannondale Bad Boy. Running on 1.5” slicks.

Distance: 22 miles.

Car parking: Roadside parking in Long Street, (A61) Thirsk (free) or long stay at Nursery Gardens, Thirsk, YO7 1FT(£2.40 all day)