Gunnerside Gill and Apedale

Yorkshire Mountain Bike Route Guide


Swaledale, The Yorkshire Dales

(Requires advanced skills and fittness)

28.5 miles

OS Explorer OL30

Route Text Download:
Gunnerside Gill and Apedale

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This mountain bike route of 28.5 miles heads up Swaledale and Gunnerside before returning through Apedale. There's a good mixture of rocky trails through the Swaledale and over the moors with some great descents and long climbs in Gunnerside Gill and Apedale. Although a long, hard ride Gunnerside has some good mid-ride refuelling options.

1. Leave Grinton Lodge YHA and cross the road onto the bridleway opposite (GR048976). At the other end of the bridleway turn left and climb the lane. At the next junction, on a left hand bend, take the wide dirt track on the right (GR044974). This track soon flattens off and goes through a couple of shallow bends. On a left hand bend, just before the main track descends to a gate and a ford, take the thin grassy track on the right and descend to a rocky stream crossing (GR039972). After the stream climb the track and go straight ahead over the crest and descend a short way to a gate. After the gate take the thin track ahead and left to descend the grassy singletrack parallel to the fence on the left. This finishes at a junction wide a grassy track. Turn left to a gate (GR309977).

2. Go through the gate and follow the thin track along the line of the drystone wall on the right. The trail flattens off and contours the hillside. Where the drystone wall drops away to the right keep going straight on, staying high on the now rocky trail. The drystone wall comes back up to meet the trail. At the end of this wall turn right at the vague junction to drop diagonally to a rocky hard pack trail that descends to a gate. Go through the gate and descend left to a junction on a loose and rocky right hand bend. Go straight on along the grassy, rutted double track and descend to a gate at a lane (GR029982).

3. Turn left on the lane and descend all the way to a junction with a lane going over a stone bridge. Go straight on keeping the river on the right. At the next group of houses, where the lane kicks up to the left, turn right on the dirt track that continues following the river (GR003982). Follow the double track all the way to the farm at the far end. Go straight on through the farm and past the waterfall. Follow the lane to the next junction and turn right to cross the bridge and climb to a junction with the B6270 (GR977976). Turn left and follow the main road to Gunnerside. After crossing Gunnerside Beck in the centre of Gunnerside go straight on at the junction, where the main road turns left. Climb past the houses of Dyke Heads on the left to the junction with a wide rocky track on the right, next to Dyke Heads farm (GR941983).

4. Turn right and climb the track up the left hand side of Gunnerside Gill. About two thirds of the way up the track bears left and descends through a gate before turning right over a stream and climbing to a junction on the following left hand bend (GR935006). Take the track on the right and climb the grassy double track that soon bears right and flattens off, it can be a bit boggy here. The track soon bears left for a fast rocky descent the ends at some derelict buildings on the junction of two streams (GR936017).

5. Go through the water of Blind Gill then, on the other side of the stream, turn right and go across the small stone bridge over Blakethwaite Gill. Turn right, go around the left hand side of the derelict building and past the steep track that climbs out of the valley on the left. Follow the rock strewn track beside the stream on the right. The trail soon becomes singletrack and bears left, climbing to a signposted crossroad below a rock filled gulley (GR940012).

6. Turn right and follow the rocky trail that descends down the valley past the derelict buildings. After a stream crossing turn left at the following forked junction, marked by a big cairn, to climb a grassy trail. This track is mostly climbable with one short section that definitely needs pushing. Continue straight on to where a track comes in from the left near the old kiln. At the following junction continue straight along the wide, grassy track that leads to a gate in the middle of the drystone wall ahead (GR942002).

7. After the gate descend the fast grassy track that ends with a couple of rutted bends leading to a farm. Climb to a junction then turn left to go around the back of the buildings (GR947994). The track then climbs left to a gate. After the gate follow the wide track as it bears generally left before coming to a short, steep climb just before a junction (GR956988). Continue straight on at this junction and follow the line of the drystone wall, keeping it on the right. Go past the grassy trails climbing off to the left to stay by the drystone wall on the now rutted and muddy track. Follow the track to a junction directly after a stream crossing (GR960986).

8. Go straight across the obvious track at the top of the short bank from the stream and ride into the grass ahead. The track is very vague here (see detailed Barf End picture). While facing the low ridge straight ahead a very vague grassy sheep trail should be found heading off at about 11 o’clock. Ride in this direction to the top of the low ridge. Bear right and ride along the ridge heading just to the right of the low summit. A defined trail soon appears and traverses over a rocky outcrop, just high of the drystone wall on the right. On the other side of the rocks the trail drops into a field for a grassy sheep track that ends at a gate in the drystone wall on the right (GR967985).

9. Go through the gate and follow the muddy, rutted double track directly opposite the gate. After descending initially to the right the trail bears left. It then turns right again and drops to a wide gassy junction. Turn right and follow a wide grassy track over sections of bedrock on a plateau above Swaledale, on the left. Go through the next gate and turn left at the junction immediately after to drop off the ridge (GR963983). Descend the track across the face of the hill. The fast grassy descent comes to a few rocks and ditches by some houses. Go straight on and continue past the houses. The trail becomes rockier the lower it gets, especially at a tight left hand bend at a small stream crossing. Go left at junction with the lane at the bottom, then through an electric gate to a junction at with the previously ridden road on the edge of Gunnerside (GR953982).

10. Turn right and follow the road to the junction in the middle of the village. Follow the B6270 left and cross the River Swale before climbing to the next junction (GR949977). Turn left and follow the lane through a farm before eventually climbing to a three-way junction at Crackpot (GR973966). Turn right and climb for a while before a gentle descent to Summer Lodge. Go straight on through the gate at Summer Lodge for a very steep gravel climb. The first part is definitely the worst. It flattens off before the bearing left for the final, steep but rideable haul to the junction at the top (GR964948).

11. At the junction turn left and descend the lane. After passing a drystone wall on the left the road descends steeply. The road then flattens off and comes to a staggard four-way junction above a farm house on the left. Turn right up the wide rocky track sign posted to Bolton Abbey (GR983964). Climb past the junction with a track on the right and bear left to continue the ascent through the old mine works. At the next junction, with a track on the left, keep climbing straight on up the loose rocks. The track eventually levels off and comes to a square kink to at the top. After the kink follow the main trail right for a 3km descent into Apedale (GR000954).

12. The descent starts on gravel and drops steeply on loose rocks through some old mine works before continuing along a long section of fast flat hardpack. Be careful on the steep top section as it's easy to carry too much speed into a couple of the corners. Follow the main track down the dale to a wide dirt track crossroad (GR030942).

13. Turn left and climb the wide rocky track through a right hand bend. Go right at the junction near the top to the cairns at the summit of Greets Hill (GR028956). Go through the gate on the right for a tricky, rocky track that follows the fence on the left. The trail then steepens for a blast down through the right hand side of some old mine workings. At the end of the trail turn left on the road. Descend to a junction on the following right hand bend and head left off the road down the signposted singletrack bridleway across the moor (GR040967).

14. Descend the thin track through the heather to a wide gravel track. Turn left and follow the track along the line of the hill to a stone building (GR027967). Continue along the track as it turns right twice before bearing left to descend to a four-way junction (GR033972). Turn right down the rutted grassy track. This becomes rocky just before dropping through a few bends to a ford. After the ford climb left through a gate. Follow the wide track until it ends at a lane (GR044974). Turn left and descend the lane to the marked bridleway on the right. Turn right and follow this track back to Grinton Lodge YHA to finish the ride.