We were trying to think of a day out on the bikes a little different to riding the routes we riding on a weekly basis. So we thought about a little cycle trip around a city. We narrowed it down to York or Chester, we went for York as the train would be a little cheaper.
Now being someone that would be very bored just tootling around with no aim, I needed a bit more of a plan. So I got my book , Sustrans – Traffic Free Cycle Rides – 150 Great Days Out off the shelf. The ISBN for the book is 978-1-901389-96-8 and can be bought from the Sustrans website. https://shop.sustrans.org.uk/sustrans-traffic-free-cycle-rides. It is currently £12.00. No matter where you are based in the country, there will be a cycle day out that you can take part in.
Below are some images of the book from the Sustrans site.
So in the book I found a little ten mile route from the village of Riccall that takes you straight into York. Riccall did not have a train station so a little more research showed that Selby four miles from Riccall was where we needed to head to. A little more research showed that the route starting from Riccall was part of the larger Route 65 Trans Pennine route, so we knew we would have very few cars to deal with on the stretch to the car free start at Riccall.
When buying the train tickets online I used a split ticket app which saved us about £20. Whilst I was booking I noticed that on the outward journey we were using Northern Trains which is good because you don’t need to prebook the trains, but on the inward journey one of the trains was Trans Pennine. Other than Northern Trains to get your bikes on you need to pre book. Now for a simple journey like this it is just a phone call. But I could not even be bothered doing that, especially considering we have some Bromptons we could use and just take them on any train, so that was the plan.
Bicycles on Trains
Now lets just have a bit of a discussion on taking bikes on trains. As stated above, on a simple journey that just requires one train from one train company it is not a problem. Phone them up to buy your ticket and see if they have space for a bike, if they don’t either set off earlier or later and you can probably get yourself and your bike to where you need to go. But let’s consider a long journey where you might be using three different trains from three different train companies (or even the same for that matter). So you cant buy your train tickets until you have phoned to see if they have space for your bike, so you might as well buy your tickets over the phone when you know.
So let’s think of an example I have called train number one they had space so I bought the tickets. I then proceed to call train number two, they did not have tickets so game over, especially if you have ongoing travel arrangements by the third train or boat or plane etc.
Something that has happened to me in the past was when I called train company number 1. They clarified they had space for a bike, but before I bought I called train number two, they clarified so I bought my ticket. I then called back train company number one to get the bike space I had previously enquired about and if had gone in the space of calling train company number 2.
So if we are really wanting to help the environment, congestion and air quality we need an easier way to take bikes on trains and also train tickets need to be cheaper.
Back to the route
We got up at 0800 and rode down to the train station to get the 09:23 train from Sowerby Bridge to Leeds. A change at Leeds to get the 10:54 train to Selby.
We took our face masks and wipes so we could clean our hands after we touched items that did not belong to us. We got to Selby for 11:26.
It was hot, very hot. We joined Route 65 just around the corner from the train station. The 4 mile stretch was not part of the traffic free day out in the book, but the route was still on cycles lanes next to roads or on roads with very few cars where they had to drive slowly.
After four miles you get to the start of the traffic free section in Riccall. Riccall is a lovely village that has a couple of nice pubs and places to get treats and drinks. This is also the start of the scale model of the solar systems. Along the route you will fine models done to scale of the planets and the distances between each planet are also to scale. The first planets you come across are large and the distances between them are the longest. You get to really notice how small the Earth is in comparison and as you move closer to the Sun the planets start to come fast. About 100m between them, the scale model finishes with the Sun which is the largest model and at this point you are about three miles from York
There are little benches along the route where you could stop and have a rest and some food and/or drinks.
We found a nice little bench under a tree to have our lunch. It provided shade from the heat and a lovely view across a field.
The route continues on and you arrive at York Racecourse. The route passes lots of areas where you could have a proper full on picnic on blankets if you prefer that to sat on benches. Then it progresses to more open space at the side of the river, again another lovely spot for a picnic. You can see these areas in my video as I don’t have images of them. A large and very nice park is next. The park has all the slides, swings and roundabouts you might need to bribe the kids to finish. It also has a bike and skate park and tennis courts if you want to burn off some more calories.
The route then moves on to a bit of road to get into the centre of York. The roads are low traffic, but you do have a couple of traffic lights to get past. If you are with very young children you could always walk across the road. The route took us two hours but we were stopping to take pictures, videos and to have lunch.
Then once in York the day is your own. It was a very hot day so we got some ice cream, fed the ducks and geese and chilled on the grass outside the Minster before getting our train back to Sowerby Bridge at 16:04.
Please watch my video for more footage of the route.