As a family, we are always on the lookout for new safe cycle paths to explore. With a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old cycling is the perfect activity for the whole family. It’s free, safe and great exercise. Our little boy Barney loves sitting on the back taking in all the nature as we ride along.
We recently came across the Wetherby Railway Path which is a disused Railway line connecting the village of Spofforth with Wetherby and continues through to Thorp Arch. In October half term we ventured across to take the bikes on the route.
This route was created by Sustrans who are a charity whose sole purpose is to make it easier for people to walk and cycle. The roads have become hell zones in the past 10 years with cyclists (literally) pushed to the side. The rise in SUV’s has compounded this further and made road cycling a less safe place to be.
We started at the village of Spofforth which is a lovely little village. We parked the car, unloaded the bikes and started at Spofforth Castle, a former fortified manor house, ruined during the English Civil War. In front of the Castle is a lovely grass area for the kids to play. It was October when we visited and the weather wasn’t great but I imagine this is awesome in the Summer months.
From the castle, all you have to do is venture through the village, past the shop and you will pick up signs for the cycle track to Wetherby. As you approach the track there’s a play park & a small nature reserve to the left-hand side. It’s brilliant and completely free. We used it as a bargaining tool for our five-year-old that she could play once we’ve been on a long cycle.
What is the route like?
Once on the route, the ground is relatively flat and sturdy. It’s a beautiful route as you slowly make your way past farmers fields, through wooded ground with places to stop and take in the scenery. Our daughter took her Binoculars and was able to spot plenty of birds on the surrounding trees.
The route is incredibly quiet too and as a result, it feels relaxing; almost liberating at times.
At one point of the route, you can hear the road running at the side of you while you cycle without fear on a traffic-free route. It was actually a really nice feeling.
What level rider is it suitable for?
The route is suitable for riders of all ages and ability levels. Our 5 year old found it tiring in places however she was able to complete the route and back to Spofforth. We stopped occasionally for drinks and snacks but there were no steep hills or difficult terrain.
How much of it is traffic free?
For the entire route, 87.5% of it is traffic-free which is fantastic when cycling with kids. There’s a small part through Spofforth from the castle where you have to navigate traffic but it’s a village so isn’t too bad. You could avoid this completely if you parked on the housing estate just before you join the cycle track but if you want to see the castle also you’d need to come through the village.
Would you recommend it?
Absolutely! If you have young children or are new to cycling then this is a perfect route to take. It combines cycling, nature and the viewing of historic sights into one. Wetherby is also fantastic for grabbing lunch if you want a break before cycling back. Spofforth also sells food inside the local shop however the menu is limited.
The village park and nature reserve is the icing on the cake too. The park is very natural and seems to be the pride and joy of the village (they’ve won awards for it).
If you have a bike rack and want some free & safe fun for your children then I thoroughly recommend the route.