A day off work and a weather forecast of clear skies and 10C in February provided a good excuse for a day trip to the North York Moors to collect the two cycle quest checkpoints within the National Park and to make an attempt to ride the somewhat infamous climb of Rosedale Chimney, sometimes referred to as the steepest climb in the country.
I had planned a circular route of just over 40 miles, starting and finishing in Grosmont. But on arriving I discovered a £4.50 charge for parking in the village (the car park, given the time of year, was empty!) so I backtracked to park in Egton. I've ridden in the North York Moors before so I was prepared for steep hills all day, but hadn't bargained on the first climb (Egton High Moor) featuring a 33% gradient. Fortunately this long climb has only short steep pitches near the bottom, and once out on the moors the reward was good views in all directions.
The descent into Rosedale Abbey gave a good view of the extent and severity of Rosedale Chimney climbing out of the valley on the other side. A cafe stop came first though, early in the ride owing to the fact that most cafes in the area are closed at this time of year. Suitably refreshed, and with a large slice of flapjack packed for later, it was straight onto the climb. The first two hairpins were steep. Rounding the second brought the steepest 33% ramp into view and it was all I could manage to just keep the pedals going round on that pitch. I'm pleased to say that I managed to ride it all in one go, but I can't say that the experience was entirely enjoyable!
After a long run down off the moors, I turned east and kept mostly to small lanes across to Newton-on-Rawcliffe. At this point I knew that things could get "interesting". I needed to get to a village called Levisham, but there was a gap of just less than one mile between the road at Newton and the road at Levisham Station on the North York Moors railway which could be "bridged" by use of a byway and a bridleway. The alternative was a lengthy diversion which would have made the whole day's route too long. The byway was muddy but rideable. However, the remaining half mile started off as a walk down a steep muddy track, continued as a rideable descent across a grassy field, before leaving a final couple of hundred metres of steep muddy walking to reach a footbridge over a river at the bottom. Not a route I would recommend anyone taking, and most certainly don't even consider it if going in the other direction!
Crossing the level crossing at Levisham Station lead to a 25% and then 20% climb up to Levisham village and the cycle quest checkpoint. The way out of the village was down a 20% descent and then straight up another climb of equal gradient! From here my route had not alternative but to follow the A169 for 6 miles north. After a brief stop at Horcum Dike to eat some flapjack and watch some paragliders, it was on northwards past Fylingdales before turning left for Goathland. From here it was 10 miles of ups and downs (including another bank at 25%) before squeezing across a narrow footbridge to avoid fording the River Esk at Grosmont before a final leg-breaker of a climb up to Egton to claim the second checkpoint and finish my ride.