ON the north-east border of the great Forest of Galtres lay the tiny settlements of Marton in the Forest and Moxby, sometimes called Marton with Moxby.

Both were important religious centres in the 13th century. Today, the Forest of Galtres, a royal hunting forest, is gone and the land is now mainly agricultural.

Built on the bank of the River Foss to the north-west of Sheriff Hutton lie the remains of the earthworks of Marton Priory.

This Augustinian priory is just a couple of miles north-west of Marton in the Forest and is situated in the grounds of a modern farm called Marton Abbey.

The farmhouse bears evidence of a priory being nearby as it is built with some of the priory’s stone. If you look carefully, you should be able to see an angel, a shield and other stone from the priory’s walls.

Other priory remains have been found nearby at the site of the priory mill with the discovery of lead coffins and skeletons.

Not far from Marton in the Forest in a southerly direction lies Moxby, just a few houses, one of which is called Moxby Hall Farm.

Indeed, there was a hall around here as well as another Augustinian Priory, this time used as a nunnery and called Moxby Priory.

The priory had a water mill on the bank of the Foss of which earthworks can still be seen. There is other evidence of the existence of this nunnery as not far away is a well with water of divine healing.

There is not much to see today of either Marton or Moxby Priory. The only connection is with the local churches. The church of Marton in the Forest belonged to Marton Priory and the church at Whenby belonged to the nuns at Moxby.

As you cycle along this route you must visit the two churches mentioned above. Both have interesting architecture and are very individual in their presentation.

They are usually open and sometimes have refreshments which you can enjoy while you soak up hundreds of years of history in the solitude of these two grand little Ryedale churches.

Your route

Leave Sheriff Hutton in a northerly direction towards Terrington.

In one mile, turn left signed to Whenby and Brandsby. Enjoy the views across the flatlands to the Howardian Hills in the distance.

Although the road is quite wide, take care on the gritty surface as you negotiate the sharp bends.

Not far and you arrive at the tiny village of Whenby with its grand little church dominating the skyline. Spend time here if you like old buildings and solitude.

On leaving the village, bear left signed to Brandsby. More open views as you cycle along the undulating, gritty road still following signs for Brandsby.

Take care when the road narrows and soon you pass the unusual Brandsby church on the left as you near the village. A little further along, you arrive at a T-junction in Brandsby village. Go left here signed to Stillington and York.

Follow the main road as it twists, turns, rises and falls through open land again to pass through an area called Marton Park.

Marton Priory was on the left here near Marton Abbey Farm, adjacent to the bank of the River Foss.

Continue along for a mile or so to soon arrive at Stillington. Immediately on entry you must take the first road on your left.

Cycle along this quiet road watching out for the double bends and the two small bridges to arrive at another grand little church at the side of the road as you enter Marton in the Forest. Take a look inside.

About two miles south of here is the site of Moxby Priory. Cycle through the village, then a little further along pass Priory Farm.

When you reach Farlington turn right signed to Farlington and 12th century church. Pass the Blacksmiths Arms, then take care on this narrow, slippery road and you soon arrive at a crossroads.

Turn left here signed to Sheriff Hutton and Strensall, then at the T- junction left again signed to Sheriff Hutton to continue along to the village with its ruined castle on the hill.

The facts

Distance – 18miles/29km.

Terrain – Mainly flat and quiet roads.

Best map – OS Landranger 100.

Start/grid ref – Sheriff Hutton, grid ref: 653663.

Refreshments – Pubs at Sheriff Hutton and Farlington.

Guide book – Exploring Ryedale, Moor & Wold by Bicycle by J Brian Beadle published by Trailblazer at £2.50 contains similar routes. Available from Trailblazer Outdoors in Pickering, book shops, Pickering Railway Station and tourist information centres.

Gazette & Herald: Sheriff Hutton cycle ride map