The seaside town is situated at the eastern end of the Cleveland Way, a long-distance footpath, which was the second National Trail to be opened in England in 1969. Like all other towns along the coast, its seaside will be very busy in summer, but it feels less hectic than the other towns. You can stop at nice cafes as the route passes through town and a caravan park on the outskirts. This is followed by another short section on the busy A165 before you climb on quiet roads to Hunmanby, where Yorkshire's first whisky distillery was opened in 2017.
Hunmanby is on the eastern end of the Yorkshire Wolds, the northernmost chalk hills in the UK. You continue on roads to Reighton, Speeton and Bempton. The steep coast provides nesting sites for thousands of seabirds, and the cliffs are of international significance for their geology. The spectacular cliffs are home to amazing birdlife, worth a detour. If you are in a rush, the cliffs at nearby Flamborough Head are equally as stunning, as is the next stop on the route.
Flamborough Head is a chalk headland with sheer white cliffs. The clifftop has two lighthouse towers, the oldest dating from 1669. The steep coast provides nesting sites for thousands of seabirds, and the cliffs are of international significance for their geology. The route follows the same road out and back from and to Flamborough and then continues on a bridleway from the car park at Danes Dyke to Sewerby.
From Sewerby, the route follows a spectacular cycle path to Bridlington, best known for shellfish. The town is the largest lobster port in Europe, with over 300 tonnes of crustaceans landed there each year, and nicknamed the "Lobster Capital of Europe". Like all other towns along the coast, its main trade outside of fishing is summer tourism. A trip on the Yorkshire Belle, which sails from Easter to mid-October from the North Pier, is a great way to explore the spectacular cliffs of Flamborough & Bempton from a different perspective. The ship has been carrying passengers since 1947 and is the only boat left operating on the Yorkshire Coast.
The route follows the B1253 first to Boynton. This short section can be busy, but you’ll be rewarded with a great off-road section. The route meets Sustrans Route 1 again and continues on the road for a while before following the National Byway into Burton Agnes. Shortly afterwards, you will pass Burton Agnes Hall, an Elizabethan manor house in the village of Burton Agnes, built by Sir Henry Griffith in 1601–10 to designs attributed to Robert Smythson. You can visit both the house and the grounds all year round.
You follow the National Byway south from here to Lisset. Close to Lissett, you will pass a memorial on the site of a former RAF airfield. During World War 2, the 158 Squadron took off from here and played an important role in defending Britain. There are twelve wind turbines on the site, with eleven turbines named after aircraft and the twelfth to commemorate the six airmen who perished on 2 July 1943 due to an explosion in the bomb dump. Be mindful of fast traffic when crossing the A165 shortly after Lisset and continue on the National Byway to Skipsea. The coast near the village to the east is the fastest eroding coastline in northern Europe.
From Skipsea, follow the B1242 to Hornsea, where the route leaves the road for a short stretch of off-road riding before heading towards the Hornsea Promenade. A seaside town in the East Riding of Yorkshire, dating back to the early medieval period, Hornsea was expanded in the Victorian era with the rise of the railways. Later, the town was best known for Hornsea Pottery, which was established in 1949 but closed in 2000. There are good places to eat before you continue on the Trans Pennine Trail to New Ellerby.
This cycle path follows the route of the former Hull and Hornsea Railway out of the city. This highly enjoyable part of the route takes you into Holderness, an area of rich agricultural land. It was marshland until it was drained in the Middle Ages, and topographically, Holderness has more in common with the Netherlands than with other parts of Yorkshire. After leaving the Trans Pennine Trail, the route follows mainly the National Byway south, with a few variations along the way. The next stop is Withernsea, the most southerly seaside town on the Yorkshire Coast.
Withernsea Lighthouse, situated on Hull Road, is an inland lighthouse in the middle of the town. Nowadays, it is a museum; there was nothing between it and the sea but dunes when it was built, and the fear of coastal erosion led to it being positioned well back. The route continues on the promenade for a short section and then continues on the National Byway to Holmpton.
From Holmpton, you follow a mix of quiet roads and bridleways to Easington. Coastal erosion led to many villages in this area being lost to the sea years ago, some disappearing as early as 1400. The ride here is fast and enjoyable, and after passing Kilnsea, the next stop on the route is Spurn Point.
Big skies and ever-changing wildlife make the evocative landscape of Spurn not only one of the most iconic nature reserves managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust but also an intriguing place to cycle. Spurn Point is Yorkshire's Lands End, an iconic and constantly moving peninsula that curves between the North Sea and the Humber Estuary. This landscape is unique and ever-changing at over three miles long but as little as 50 metres wide.
The route continues from the visitor centre across the sandy beach first to meet the remains of the former road to Spurn Lighthouse. Please check the tide times before setting off across the beach. Spurn has an extensive human history, leaving a legacy of fascinating but derelict buildings and hidden structures along the route. This is one of the UK’s most visited destinations for birdwatchers, so be mindful.
You follow the same route out and back. Shortly after Kilnsea, you head west on a mixture of roads and bridleways following the coast to Skeffling. The route continues on the B1445 to Welwick and Patrington, passing the Gunpowder Plot Sculpture and the Greenwich Meridian. The sculpture of four plotters, including Guy Fawkes, was erected to mark the defeat of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, commemorating East Yorkshire's links to the Gunpowder Plot. Two of the conspirators, brothers John (Jack) and Christopher (Kit) Wright were born in the village of Welwick.
Patrington has a distinctive church and one of the best cafes along the route. At Winestead Bridge, you join the Holderness Rail Trail to Hedon, from where Hull is only about an hour away. If you are using the route as part of a longer itinerary or if you want to shorten the route, Hedon is a good entry or exit point.
From Hedon, your journey north takes you mainly along roads to Brandesburton and into the Tophill Low Nature Reserve, an active Yorkshire Water treatment works built in 1959. In the nature reserve that flanks the river Hull, you pass two reservoirs shaped like the letters 'D' and 'O'. You meet the Way of the Roses to continue on this route from Hutton Cranswick to Skerne. From here, you leave the Way of the Roses again to follow more quiet roads and cycle paths into the hilly landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds. After a long section with few places to eat, Drifflied, the Capital of the Wolds, is a great place to stock up. The town was listed in the 2019 Sunday Times report as one of the best places to live in Northern England, for bikepackers it is an ideal place to stock up on supplies.
After crossing the Driffield bypass, the route follows a network of chalk gravel paths into the rolling hills of the Yorkshire Wolds to Kilham. The village, which lies in a narrow valley on the southern edge of the Wolds, was once an important market town. At one time, it was bigger and more important than Driffield. From Kilham, follow a quiet road to Rudston. The Rudston Monolith, situated in the churchyard in the village, stands at over 25 feet. It is the tallest megalith in the United Kingdom.
From Rudston, the route follows the National Byway to Burton Fleming and continues from there to Wold Newton. The Wolds village is located within the Great Wold Valley and the course of the Gypsey Race, a Winterbourne chalk stream, which passes through the south of the village. The parish church of All Saints is a Grade II listed building, and there are eight other Grade II listed buildings in the village.
You continue on roads through Fordon before the route climbs up a big hill and on bridle paths to Folkton, where it rejoins Sustrans Route 1 to Cayton. From Cayton, the route follows the B1261 to East Ayton, from where you enter the North York Moors National Park and continue on a number of successive bridleways onto East Ayton Moor. The route follows the signposted Moor to Sea cycle network into Wykeham Forest and over Troutsdale Brow. This is one of the nicest sections of the route, with wide gravel tracks and splendid views.
Continue on the signposted Moor to Sea route into Dalby Forest and on gravel trucks to the Dalby Forest Visitors Centre, a good place to stop for food. Dalby Forest Cycle Hub is just a short detour from the visitor centre. Dalby Forest is packed with loads of trails for gravel and mountain bikes and is maintained by Forestry England. Along with Langdale Forest and Cropton Forest, it forms part of the North Riding Forest Park.
Continuing mostly off-road, the route crosses the busy A169 and continues on tarmac roads to Lockton and Levisham. Levisham is a small village with a pub and a population of less than 100. The village was used as a filming location for ‘Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One’ in 2021.
From here, the route continues on Levisham Moor and drops back to the road before descending to Levisham station, a North York Moors Railway stop. While not on the route, you can make a detour on bridleways to the Hole of Horcum, a once narrow valley which widened and deepened into an enormous cauldron. The moor is also home to a herd of Highland cattle, at times it feels like you are in the middle of the Scottish Highlands here.
From Levisham station, a former forest drive route is followed into Cropton Forest and then passes the Mauley Cross. The Cross is named after the de Mauley family of Mulgrave Castle, who were notorious poachers, and it is presumed that the cross marks their boundary of grazing rights. After rejoining a road, you pass the start of Wade's Causeway or Wheeldale Roman Road (please do not cycle on this ancient monument).
The causeway's visible section on Wheeldale Moor shows the remains of a continuous surface metalled with closely fitted sandstone slabs with flat upper surfaces. The linear monument on Wheeldale Moor was first recorded as ‘Wade’s Causeway – a Roman Way’ on a map of 1720. It then features in most antiquarian accounts of the area as part of a Roman road, traced for various distances along a route from Amotherby, near Malton, south towards the coast north of Whitby. More recent work has suggested that it could be medieval or not a road at all but a much modified Neolithic or early Bronze Age boundary feature. From here, the route continues over open moorland to Goathland. On the edge of the village, Mallyan Spout is worth a detour on foot, especially after heavy rain. With a vertical drop of 70 feet, Mallyan Spout is the tallest waterfall in the North York Moors.
Goathland is an idyllic village in the National Park, with sheep roaming the roads and an exceptionally well-stocked village shop. The pub nearby Beck Hole is worth visiting, but you must bring cash. From Beck Hole, the route drops into the beautiful Esk Valley, with three fords to cross before the village. After heavy rain, those fords might not be passable; an alternative is to take the road at Green End to the Whitby Road on Sleights Moor and descend to Grosmont. This will add a massive hill to your itinerary but avoids wet feet.
Grosmont is a village in the Esk Valley with a railway station on the Esk Valley Line and also served by heritage services operated by the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. The Esk Valley is a haven for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and history buffs alike, with the meandering River Esk running through the valley’s heart. The village is home to the NYMR's engine shed, and several railway-related buildings and structures are listed, including the 'Station Tavern' public house, the Post Office and the former horse tramway tunnel, now a pedestrian route.
After Grosmont, the route crosses the river Esk again, but this time, a bridge is the alternative if fording the river is not possible. From here, quiet roads are followed to Egton station and Egton. There are several big climbs on this section of the route, and you continue on quiet roads to the A171 and continue after a short stretch on this busy road to Lythe. From here, the route passes the picturesque village of Sandsend to continue into Whitby.
Whitby is a picturesque seaside town best known for its association with the horror novel Dracula. The town's oldest and most prominent landmark is the abbey ruin at the top of the East Cliff. Statues of the explorer Captain Cook, the whaler and scientist William Scoresby, and the whalebone arch at the top of the West Cliff commemorate Whitby’s maritime heritage. For your taste buds, Whitby is known for its scampi, with Whitby Seafoods currently the largest UK supplier of breaded scampi.
From Whitby, the route follows the Cinder Track to Robin Hood’s Bay. The origin of the village’s name is uncertain, but it is doubtful that Robin Hood was ever in the vicinity of the village. Today, Robin Hood's Bay is a picturesque old fishing village on the Heritage Coast of the North York Moors, with narrow, twisting cobbled streets and alleyways. When taking a detour into the village, be aware that you must negotiate a 31% incline on the way back.
The Cinder Track is a picturesque coastal route from Whitby to Scarborough on the route of the old railway line, which closed in 1965. The surface on the route is a mixed bag. Be prepared for some rocky or muddy sections. But the scenery along the route will make up for the sometimes challenging cycling. The next section of the Cinder Track especially offers amazing views across the coast before you reach the village of Ravenscar.
At the turn of the 20th century, plans were made to turn the village of Ravenscar into a holiday resort to rival nearby Scarborough. Roads and sewers were laid out, and some houses were built. Because of the long trek to its rocky beach, Ravenscar never achieved popularity, and the development was left unfinished – a town with sewers and streets but no houses.
The Cinder Track continues to Scalby, where the North Bay Promenade takes you to Marine Drive. The promenade will be difficult or impossible to cycle in high winds and spring tides. An alternative is to take Burniston Road to Marine Drive. The route follows the coast on Marine Drive around a rocky promontory, where the ruins of Scarborough Castle, a former medieval royal fortress, sit. You’ll pass Royal Albert Park and a statue of Freddie Gilroy by Ray Lonsdale.
The largest town on the Yorkshire Coast, Scarborough is a great place to spend a few days at the end of the trip. The Bike & Boot Hotel has excellent cyclist facilities: You’ll get secure bike storage, bike wash and a free afternoon cake with your room. The town lies between 3 and 70 m above sea level, rising steeply from the harbour to the north and the west.
On the way back to the train station, you pass the Central Tramway Company Scarborough Limited, a Victorian cliff railway built in 1881 and one of the oldest cliff railways still running in the UK.
Other Routes nearby
Sustrans Route 1 (EV12)
Route YC Adventure Weekender
Moor to Sea Cycle Network
Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route (Sustrans Route 166)
For anything bike-related
Dalby Forest Cycle Hub
Wheely Active, Lebberston
Richardson's Cycles, Scarborough
EDS Bikes, Scarborough
Trailways, Whitby (hire)
Where to fuel?
Bareca at Bike & Boot, Scarborough
Thirty Coffee Shop & Eatery, Filey
The Green Owl, Hornsea
Castle Cafe, Withernsea
Crown & Anchor, Kilnsea
Spurn Visitor Centre, Kilnsea
Cakey Bakey Yum Yum, Patrington
Russtic Tearooms, Cayton
Dalby Forest Visitors Centre
Lockton Tea Rooms & Gallery, Lockton
The Horseshoe Inn, Levisham
Goathland Station Tea Room, Goathland
Horseshoe Hotel, Egton Bridge
Whitby Brewery, Whitby
Ravenscar Tearooms, Ravenscar
Selected places to stay