RESIDENTS of York and the surrounding area will be familiar with the River Ouse which slices the city into two halves and occasionally causes problems by flooding. It’s a pretty big river, yes?

The casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that its source will be some considerable distance away, perhaps up in the Pennines. Actually, it’s closer than you’d think and today we’ll find out where that is.

We notionally start in Boroughbridge, but first take a detour north on the B6265, in the direction of Ripon.

So over the historic canal and river bridge (parts of which date back to 1562), then first exit off the roundabout to follow the B6265 through the village of Langthorpe.

Just beyond, on the right, is Listers farm shop and cafe. Look for the big red tractor. There’s a bike rack behind the building and an excellent coffee and a bacon sandwich to set you up for the ride ahead. They do have a small car park, but ask that this is kept for customers actually on the premises. Use the free car park in Boroughbridge centre.

Retrace to Boroughbridge and back across the river. Then keep straight on, passing the Post Office on your right, and along Horsefair.

This was originally the old A1 road through the centre of town. Continue for about half a mile until you pass Boroughbridge High School on your left.

At the next roundabout bear right, second exit, signed Minskip. Just before the far end of the village, take the junction right, to Staveley.

Continue through Staveley, passing first the pub, and then church on your right. Beyond the village, keep left at a junction, now following a sign for Farnham.

Climb gently for about a mile to reach a cross road. Here turn left, now following sign for Ferrensby and Arkendale. At Ferrensby, cross straight over the A6055 with care, continuing in direction of Arkendale.

If you are keen to get to lunch, progress straight through the village. However, I can recommend a little loop around a nice lane with grass down the middle, which adds just over three miles.

So pass St Bartholowmews on your right, then descend out of the village to take the small lane off to the right. It is not signed to anywhere in particular, but there’s a width restriction for vehicles.

Proceed through the hamlet of Clareton, (no sign, but note Clareton Farm on the left) drop down through some trees and take a sharp right at a T-junction (unsigned). This brings you back to Arkendale.

At St Bartholowmews go right at T-junction to descend out of the village again.

This time however, follow the road around to the left at the bottom of the hill, in direction of Marton cum Grafton. Cross a motorway flyover, then turn left onto the A168 (briefly) before a right towards Marton cum Grafton.

In less than a mile, take the first left into the village, to find the Punch Bowl (Good Pub Guide award winners) just after the village shop, on your right.

A new barrel of York Brewery Guzzler was just settling, so we tried the Theakstons Best Bitter (3.8% ABV) which was very quaffable. Black Sheep was also available. A selection of sandwiches was on offer. I had the local Wensleydale ham and mustard, with a side of fries. My friend Steve had a seasonable pumpkin risotto.

Marton and Grafton are actually two separate villages, which run into each other with no discernible boundary.

The settlement is referenced in the Domesday Book and the font in the church is said to date from 1320. The church bell, salvaged from an earlier building, is believed to be 12th century.

Leaving the pub, go left, and keep left to pass the remains of a Pinfold on your right. A blue plaque explains the original purpose of restraining stray animals.

Continue out of the village to meet a T-junction, where left, to meet the B6265 at another T-junction. Go right here, signed Great Ouseburn. Take next junction left, continuing to head for Great Ouseburn.

Pass Branton Green, then on entering Gt Ouseburn, look for a triangular green on the left. Go to the far end of the green, to pick up a sign for Upper Dunsforth (sharp left) turning back on yourself along the opposite side of the green.

However, before following this route away from the village, pause to reflect on the fact that a little further along from the green (approx south east) in a field behind the houses on the right, is a spring.

If you explore closer to the centre of the village you’ll find a new development called Springfield Rise. The nearby spring is the source of a stream called Ouse Gill Beck, which joins the River Ure about two miles away as the crow flies.

At that confluence, the name Ouse prevails over that of the Ure, and thus the River Ouse is born, only about 12 miles in a straight line from the centre of York. Conversely, the source of the larger River Ure is some 74 miles upstream in upper Wensleydale.

So while a large part of the water flowing through York actually originates in Wensleydale, the name Ouse is a much more local occurrence.

Back at the village green, follow the sign for and to Upper Dunsforth. Through the village then have a look in the field to the right. Unusual plants for North Yorkshire? Absolutely; this is the Dunesforde Vineyard. Planted only in 2016, the first harvest is due in 2018.

Continue on through Lower Dunsforth, and into Aldborough. Pass the church on your left to arrive at a small green with a stone column commemorating the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1322.

Detour left here to find the village green proper, with its interesting stocks, and 40 foot maypole. The May Day celebration continues to be an annual event in the village.

Return to the stone column, and continue in the same direction as before, passing Aldborough Manor on your left as you leave the village. Arrive at the outskirts of Boroughbridge, to give way at a T-junction, then bear right to the market place. If you’ve used the car park on Back Lane, this is on the right just before the market place.

Cycle ride information

Date of ride: Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The map: Ordnance Survey Landranger No.99, Northallerton & Ripon

The cafe: Listers Farm Shop, Leeming Lane, Langthorpe, Boroughbridge, YO51 9DE. 01423 326452,

The pub: The Punch Bowl, Marton cum Grafton, YO51 9QY. 01423 322519,

The bike: Classic 1971 Jack Taylor, Super Track model, built in Stockton-on-Tees. 23c Continental Gatorskin tyres.

Distance: 23 miles

Car parking: Back Lane, Boroughbridge, YO51 9AN (free)