LAST month, we had a spin around the western end of Esk Dale, on the North York Moors.

Today, I’ve ventured to the diagonally opposite part of the moors, with a ride starting in Pickering, and a round trip up to Egton Bridge, towards the eastern end of Esk Dale. Nearly all of the route is on single track roads, with little traffic. Much is at more than 100 metres altitude, reaching some 331 metres, so pick a fine day.

Start from Pickering railway station, where there’s an excellent buffet (cafe) on the platform. Originally built in 1836 as the southern terminus of the horse drawn Whitby and Pickering railway, the current station building dates from 1845 and is Grade II listed.

It has been in the ownership of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) since 1990. Take your bike onto the platform. There’s a handy wooden fence at the bottom of the footbridge over the track, to which you can lock your bike while using the station facilities.

Leave the station by the main entrance at the ticket office, and turn left (north) onto Undercliffe. Head out of town with the railway on your left. Take care at the level crossing gates at New Bridge, where the rails cross the road at an oblique angle. A short climb follows, gaining some 50 metres in height. The climb then eases, but continues gently upwards for another four miles or so.

Pass through Newton-on-Rawcliffe, noting the attractive Methodist Chapel (1878). A mile beyond Newton, keep right at a junction, signed Stape, one and a half miles. Descend a 16 per cent hill and climb steadily again through Stape. This is a linear settlement, and is reminiscent of settlements in the Scottish highlands and islands.

For us it was even more atmospheric. Quite literally. September temperatures had been at the highest for 105 years, but once we reached Stape at about 200 metres altitude, we were entering clouds and the temperature was plummeting. The last interesting thing we saw was an old Board School (1897), now an outdoor centre, before visibility fell right down to about 50 metres. Fortunately, navigation is quite simple.

It’s probably 20 years since I cycled this particular route. Back in those days, as my old map testifies, the Tarmac ran out at Stape, and from here it was a hard packed forestry track. Things have improved slightly, and the Tarmac now continues. Beyond Stape, ignore a minor road on the left, descend slightly to a finger post indicating Raindale and Cropton Forest Lodge off to the right, (and Pickering back in the direction you’ve arrived from) but here keep left instead (unsigned). After a mile the road descends to a dry ford, then climbs again over Wheeldale Moor, and crossing the route of the Lyke Wake Walk. Just over the ford to the right, is the route of an old Roman road, known locally as Wades Causway. I knew that Wheeldale Lodge (ex-YHA) was also off somewhere to the right, but the cloud-base meant any views would have to wait for another day.

Drop steeply now to an active ford at Wheeldale Gill. I halted and looked hopefully at the footbridge some 50 metres before the ford. My friend Steve was more bullish and demonstrated that the ford was do-able. So with wet wheels, we climbed steeply through a hairpin bend, then more gently for another mile to the top of Egton High Moor (264 metres altitude).

On studying the map later, I discovered we had crossed Murk Mire Moor. It did what it said on the tin. We weren’t riding too far apart, but couldn’t actually see each other. We did see mysterious standing stones though, and regrouped before a sign guiding us left at a fork in direction of Egton and Goathland (avoiding gated road). Descend with care (20 per cent) to a junction at the bottom.

The driveway to the Horseshoe Hotel is just beyond on the left. Note the signpost left to Rosedale (eight miles). We’ll need that later. Just now though, the hotel bar, at the left of the building, was warm and welcoming.

We enjoyed a quick pint of Farmers Blonde, by Bradfield Brewery, north west of Sheffield, followed by a more relaxed pint of Cornucopia, by Great Newsome, of Frodingham, near Hull. Sausage and mash for me, plus scampi and chips for Steve, completed lunch. Cornucopia means, I believe, Horn of Plenty.

Leave the bar and bear right, towards Rosedale. A warning sign for a 33 per cent climb isn’t immediately fulfilled, and we managed a couple of lesser ramps up before the real climb kicked in at the hamlet of Delves.

Feeling mellow after lunch, and the road being traffic free, we indulged in a walk. Watch for Delves Farm Cottage (and its interesting plaque) on the right. Remounting here, we continued to climb up Egton High Moor, and back into the clouds at Yarlsey Moss, 328 metres. Descend steeply then to cross Hartoft Beck at Hamer Bridge, climbing immediately (14 per cent) on to Hartoft Moor.

At the top, there is a sign on the right, showing Rosedale ahead. Go left here instead (unsigned) on to a single track road. Head south, maintaining height for about 2 miles and, with clouds breaking, views across Rosedale. Descend steeply (beware of rough surface at bottom) to an unsigned T junction. Go right, downhill some more, to another T-Junction. Go left, signed for Pickering, and pass the Blacksmiths Inn (open all day). Climb gently, then a fast descent, crossing a narrow bridge, and a final big climb up into Cropton.

At the triangular village green, bear left, signed for Sutherland and Newton. This curves left again (north) and through the main part of the village, which you don’t normally see when passing through on the primary route. Beyond Cropton, the road bears right, turning east.

The route stays level for about two miles, passing a turn on the right for Cawthorpe, and watch for a sign on the left to part of the old Roman road we passed earlier. Arrive at the second right, signed to Pickering. Turn off here and follow for about three miles back into Pickering, to give way at a junction with Middleton Road. Turn left here to go back to town centre and railway station.

Date of ride: Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The map: Ordnance Survey Landranger number 94 Whitby & Esk Dale (covers all but the first and last few hundred yards of the route, in Pickering centre)

Cafe: Station Buffet, Pickering Station, YO18 7AJ

The pub: The Horseshoe Hotel, Egton Bridge, YO21 1XE, Tel: 01947 895245

The bike: Dolan Preffisio 2016

Distance: 33 miles. Altitude gain 875 metres

Car parking: Pay and display on Eastgate, Pickering, YO18 7JD (£4.30 for six hours). Others are available. Limited on street parking available in Middleton Road, where the ride returns into Pickering. Satnav. YO18 8AL.