MTB Section – Ilkley Moor Loop – Ride Report

What a beautiful day for a bike ride!

A group of 9 intrepid riders braved an early start after the clocks went forward and met in Guiseley ready for an adventure around the moors. Temperatures were in low, single figures, but the clear skies and early sunshine spoke of better to come and we headed down into Spring Woods in excellent spirits.

After an initial, technical descent into the woods, things settled into a pattern, with the three boys pushing to the front and the adults and Poppy content to following along, watching them sail into the distance (and, more than once, in the wrong direction!). After a brisk descent to warm up everyone’s cycling technique, we headed into Esholt and after a short road section, down to the river, over the box bridge and onto the canal.

A spirited pace was set by the lead riders, but once we got to Saltaire we settled down to a sensible speed, with plenty of chatting (it is meant to be social, after all!). Once we’d navigated the usual hazards of Saltaire (i.e. walkers and pushchairs) we headed for the locks at Bingley for an early stop for cake, bacon and tea. Sitting comfortably in the sun, noone was in a huge hurry to tackle the hill that we knew we were facing, but with the day pressing on, we mounted up and faced ourselves to the task of climbing to Ilkley Moor.

To The Hills!

This 1000ft climb was tackled in two sections, with a first chunk taking us to West Morton and the second, steeper section to the summit. The first part of the climb was dealt with quickly and easily with Ralph taking the lead for much of it, but for the second section, a break formed (what do you call 3 boys in Otley kit on a hill? A race!) and after a short battle I can report that the king of this mountain was Oscar, with Thomas R and Tom W following closely on his wheel! Steve R takes the award for flashiest ascent, however, as he attempted to wheelie up the steepest section…


With all suspension unlocked, we hit the slabs across the moor, grateful that they were keeping us off the obviously boggy peat below. A spirited run over the stones left everyone’s teeth shaking in their heads as we descended down the valley towards Cow and Calf.

The Home Straight

There’s some superb technical riding here and everyone had a good crack at trying to clear the rocky sections (i.e. riding without putting a foot down) and a very cheerful party arrived the the Cow and Calf ready to continue the descent to Burley. This is a mixed bridleway with some firm trail, some grassy sections and even a bit of mud thrown in for good measure. All of the riders looked “well weathered” by the time we reached Burley station and started the climb up to Hag Farm and Menston.

The day ended with a gentle cycle through High Royds, including a flooded path that had everyone practicing their half-pedal technique – or just getting their feet wet with good humour – and after a last, brief field crossing we were in Guiseley and back at the start.

  • Total distance: 25 miles
  • Total ascent: 2000ft
  • Total bad weather: None whatsoever!

Thanks for the ride everyone and I hope to see you all at Ogden in a month’s time!

Stuart H.