CATTERICK village has always been my traditional doorway to Wensleydale. For the last couple of years, however, life in Catterick has been disrupted by works involved in upgrading the A1. Work is now complete; it was time to revisit some old haunts.

The direct crossing of the A1 to the west and the village of Tunstall is now gone. So start from the village cafe, by following the signs for A1 South. Right at a T-junction, onto the A6055 signed Brompton, then in 200 yards, left, signed Tunstall. Cross the new motorway, and right at next T-junction, still signed Tunstall. The road then curves left, signed All Routes, to re-join the old route west.

Climb steadily through Tunstall, to pick up a sign at the far end for Scotton. Continue to climb to a T-junction, where right, still signed Scotton. Then quickly turn left, signed Tank Route and Hauxwell. This has always been known to local cyclists as the Tank Road. There’s always that feeling of excitement and anticipation, in case one pops out from the training area on your right.

Continue to climb gently, catching occasional glimpses of the roof tops of Richmond to the right, and wide open spaces beyond, but not into, Wensleydale to the left. At the second cross road, go left, signed Hauxwell, onto a narrow single track road which descends at 10 per cent through the village. Beyond Hauxwell, continue straight on and downhill, until right at a T-junction signed Constable Burton. Come to the A684 at another T-junction, and go right again into the village, but sharply left at the first junction , just by the sloping village green. And yes, there really was a Constable. In the 12th century, the land was granted to Roald, chief constable for the Earl of Richmond. Burton meanwhile is Old English, for a fortified settlement.

With the green on your left and terrace of cottages to the right, go out of the village. It isn’t signed to anywhere in particular, but watch for a 13ft 3inch height restriction (low bridge) sign. Pass under the old Northallerton to Hawes railway line. Long closed, the Wensleydale Railway now runs a tourist service from Leeming Bar to Redmire, near Castle Bolton. There’s short steep climb up from the railway. Go right at a cross road signed Leyburn, then left at the next, signed East Witton.

Descend to the hamlet of Ulshaw. Here, if you are interested in church architecture, you can make a short diversion for 100 yards off to the left, signed Thornton Steward. Just past Ulshaw House (private) are gates to the graveyard of St Simon and St Jude. Walk through the graveyard to reach the Roman Catholic church, built in 1868. Nikolaus Pevsner described it as a mixture of 15th century Italian and a French style. Sadly, the church is usually locked, but the unusual octagonal tower is worth a look.

Retrace to the East Witton road, and cross the narrow bridge over the River Ure with care. At the far side, meet the A6108 at a T-junction and the Cover Bridge Inn is straight across. Serving meals every day (noon to 2pm), a wide choice of real ales are also available, including Theakstons, Black Sheep and Timothy Taylors. It was a warm sunny day and the garden at the back was full of happy customers. The river Cover, a tributary of the Ure, flows along the bottom of the garden.

Leaving the pub, turn right onto the A6108, (signed for Masham) and immediately cross the bridge (18th century Grade II listed) over the Cover, from which the pub gets its name. Despite being a main road, it’s not too busy to cycle, though I would recommend single file. Pass through the village of East Witton, and in just over a mile and a half beyond the village, arrive at the entrance to Jervaulx Abbey. Between East Witton and the Abbey however, look out over the fields to your right, where you may spot the largest Wensleydale Cheese in the world; as I did.

Don’t take the first entrance into Jervaulx as that is a private drive. Continue along the road until level with the car park and tea rooms on the right, and here, a pedestrian/cycle gate leads left, into the grounds of the abbey. Walk your bike for a few yards along the path, then bear right, onto a track marked as a bridleway. The surface is a mix of hard packed stones and broken tarmac, but I was fine on skinny 23mm tyres. You’ll meet a lot of walkers, some with dogs, so a gentle speed of not more than eight mph will allow you to give way to these and enjoy the views at the same time. The track runs east through the parkland for nearly a mile, before emerging at a gate house. Take care at the widely spaced cattle grid, just before the gate house. I felt more comfortable walking across.

Rejoining tarmac, bear left, and in two thirds of a mile cross Kilgram Bridge, over the river Ure. The site was originally a Roman ford on the road to Catterick. The bridge is thought to be 12th century and built by the Cistercian monks of Jervaulx Abbey. At a cross road bear right for Thornton Watlass. Continue into and through Thornton Watlass, with the village green on your right. About a mile beyond, take a small junction left, signed Crakehall, and immediately into the hamlet of Burrill. Continue to Crakehall, which sits on the main A684, the primary route East to West through Wensleydale.

Cross with care and take the minor road which runs along the left of the green, which also serves as the village cricket pitch. Pass just left of Crakehall Hall, Grade II listed and built in 1732. Proceed through the hamlets of Kirkbridge and Langthorne. Arrive at a T-junction in Hackforth, and bear right, signed Catterick. In two-and-a-half miles, turn off right, to cross back over the new motorway and retrace back into Catterick village. The Bay Horse, on Low Green, (left just before the village cafe) did me a fine post-ride pint of Hobgoblin Gold.


Date of ride: Sunday, July 15, 2018

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

The cafe: Village Cafe, 27 High Street, Catterick, DL10 2LL. 01748 518785. Open 9 to 3pm. Closed Sundays.

The pub: The Cover Bridge Inn, East Witton, Leyburn, DL8 4SQ. 01969 623250.

The bike: Classic 1976 Jack Taylor, Tour of Britain, on narrow 23mm tyres.

Distance: 30 miles

Car parking: On road by Low Green, Catterick DL10 7RU. Other unrestricted parking is available on the High Street through the village.