THIS year’s Tour de Yorkshire professional cycle race starts on Friday, April 28, with a stage from Bridlington to Scarborough.

That might seem only a short distance, but the cyclists do it the hard way by proceeding first to Pocklington, in the south western corner of the Wolds, then north to Malton and on to Whitby, before finally turning south for the run down to Scarborough. 173 km in total. That’s more than 107 miles in English money.

So once again, I’m riding the route in part only. As this is a place to place ride, rather than an out and back course, you’ll need an obliging driver to drop you off at the start and collect you at the end. The best way to accomplish that is to invite your partner for a night away in a pub.

My wife and I stayed the preceding evening at The Star Inn, Nafferton, just east of Driffield, and only a couple of hundred yards off the A614 race route.

Nafferton is an historic village and conservation area. It lies on the route of the Yorkshire Wolds Cycleway, and also the main Sustrans route 1.

The Star Inn provides economic, clean accommodation. There’s a little twist however in that the chef, Spiros Kardamis, is Greek. So in addition to the usual pub grub, there’s a Greek menu. We enjoyed a Greek lamb kebab and chicken gyros.

The next morning was bright, but with a bitterly cold west wind. The race route heads west along the A614, to pass through the centre of Driffield and regain the A614 beyond.

So if you want the authentic experience, that’s the way to head. Or you can opt for my quiet alternative which rejoins the race route at the junction of A614 and B1246, beyond Driffield.

From the Star Inn, I headed south through the village and left at the duck pond (known locally as The Mere) onto Coppergate.

Blue Sustrans signs will help you here. Keep straight on over the railway. Where the main Sustrans route takes a left turn, keep straight on instead towards Wansford. Here, left at church and left again at mini roundabout (B1249). Note the lock gates on the Driffield Canal. Just past the lock turn right (signed Skerne) to cross the canal, and then a second bridge over the River Hull.

At Skerne, go left at T-junction, towards Hutton Cranswick. Ignore a right turn to Hutton, but keep straight ahead to arrive at Hutton Cranswick at T-junction, where right, into the village and over level crossing. Pass village green on your left and fork left at war memorial.

Meeting the A164, there’s a cyclepath to take you a short distance right (direction Driffield) before taking a left on to Burnbutts Lane. After 100 yards, turn left into a garden centre. Continue as far as you can through the car park to find TJ’s coffee shop.

I treated myself to coffees with an extra shot, so was prepared for the cold climb I knew was coming.

Leaving the garden centre, turn left back onto Burnbutts Lane, and follow this as it meanders through the fields. At a T-junction with a Sustrans sign, go right, to reach a further T-junction and Sustrans sign indicating Pocklington. Follow this to pass over a long disused rail bridge, and take the next left (unsigned) on what appears a farm road.

Pass Neswick farm on left and continue to Bainton. Right at church, and immediate left onto Dead Lane. I’m told this was so named as it was the route for condemned prisoners back to Neswick, location of the local gallows.

Go straight over the A614, and follow this lane to its junction with the B1246 where left (rejoining the race route) signed for North Dalton.

Climb gradually, and then descend to Warter. If you are keeping rigidly to the race route keep straight on for a steep climb before dropping down again towards Pocklington.

Or, follow my scenic and flatter route by taking a left in the centre of Warter, by the war memorial, signed to Nunburnholme. I saw no cars for the next three miles on this single track road.

In Nunburnholme, bear right, signed Pocklington, to re-join the B1246, and left, into town. The race route goes into the centre of Pocklington, to loop the market place for the benefit of spectators. Cut this part out by taking the first signed junction on the right, at Manor Court, signed for Bishop Wilton (five miles). At roundabout, bear right, still for Bishop Wilton.

Just beyond the built up area, I stopped off at The Mile, farm shop and cafe, for a deserved soup and tea.

Follow signs for Bishop Wilton. Here the race route goes straight through and then right, onto the A166 to climb the Cote de Garrowby Hill. This is a busy road, so not seeking the mountain points myself, I turned right just beyond Bishop Wilton, signed for Fridaythorpe.

This also climbs to the top of the wold, and is just as steep, but single track and much quieter. Pause to enjoy views back towards York. Meet the A166 and turn right for half a mile, before left, signed Malton 12 miles.

Head due north, on this old Roman Road, along the western flank of the wolds, with panoramic views off to the left. The professionals might not have time for those. After about five miles, take a junction right, signed Birdsall and Malton. Descend a fast road into Birdsall, with its attractive Birdsall House, home of the Willoughby family.

Navigation is all plain sailing now. Give way at a cross road just beyond Birdsall, where straight over and up a last short blip of a climb, before a long and fast descent down into Norton on Derwent.

I think I clocked 35mph which is quite fast enough for me on skinny wheels. Take care through the built up area.

At the old Railway Tavern (now Norton News) go left at a mini roundabout, onto Church Street. Right with care at T-junction, to cross the railway line and into Malton.

On race day, the professionals will continue straight through, in the direction of Helmsley (B1257) before turning off to Amotherby, Kirby Misperton and Pickering. However, for me it was 43 miles done and time to head for the team car.


Date of ride

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The map

Ordnance Survey Landranger numbers 100, Malton & Pickering, and 106, Market Weighton

The cafes

TJ’s Coffee Shop, Cranswick Garden Centre YO25 9JN

Smile Cafe, The Mile, Pocklington YO42 1TW

Tel 01759 305420

The pub

The Star Inn, Nafferton, East Yorks YO25 4JW

Tel 01377 255548

The bike

2016 Dolan Preffisio


43 miles

Car parking

(on completion of ride) Pay & Display at Water Lane, Malton YO17 7AB