This is our actual which includes navigational blunders. See the other route in this collection for the cleaned up route which has these mistakes removed.
From Bingley to Leeds along the canal was easy going, and pleasant. The canal path was wide enough to be able to avoid the many others fishing, walking and biking along the canal. As we approached Leeds the path was fenced off, but after starting around the diversion, fixing a flat, we decided to go around the fence.
Once you get to Leeds, near the station you can't follow the canalside path anyway, as steps and blockages caused by new apartments growing like weeds in this area make the going difficult on a bike. We swept south to the shopping centre at Crown Point. Finding our way on a bike was tricky as Leeds has a maze of busy streets that are hard to navigate. Once at the Royal Armouries we crossed the river Aire.
After crossing the river, we found ourselves on the opposite side of a busy road from the cycleway and had to make our way along the pavement until we could cross. From there the cyclepath improved and decent path took us alongside the new Leeds east road. The going was fast but not very pretty. Annoyingly the nice cycletrack/bridleway at the road side was mared by frequent motorcycle traps that made progress slow.
Where the new road hit the M1 we picked up a nice cycletrack that took us to Temple Newsham, and on across the park land. We then headed by the Sainsbury's at Colton for more food and drink, before crossing the A 63. After that we picked up a nice bridleway that took us parallel to the M1. Rather than cross the M1 on Barrowby lane and cross back over, we cheated and used the footpath to remove the dogleg (we didn't ride our bikes - honest!), before picking up a further bridleway.
The bridleway was more narrow and singletrack like than what we'd been on. Ellis lane took us across a golf course and to a minor road, where we crossed on to Parlington lane, which offered lovely riding on a flatish gravel track that took us through a very dark 100 metre tunnel and through some woods. I remember when riding the lane it seemed to me like an old railway as the gradients and turns were gentle. I looked it up later, and it turns out the lane was once part of the Aberford Line, a coal tramway and then a light railway built to transport coal to Aberford from local mines. The tunnel was built to hide the railway from the view of a nearby country house. The secion just after the tunnel was my favourite part of the ride.
We joined the road at Aberford, and crossed under the M1 on a minor road which took us to Lotherton Hall. We had been going for ages, and took longer to cross Leeds than we thought, but were making good progress with the hills above York visible at last and some nice countryside ahead. As things do, we promptly got lost and followed a deadend bridleway and had to retrace our steps. We then carried on down hill on the road (it's a lovely road to ride but bust with fast traffic), and took the right bridleway. We visited a small isolated church called St Marys Chapel, for a rest and a look at the interior. After than we joined a narrow and hard going bridleway. At the T junction I messed up again and added an extra mile of un-needed riding. The area is very pretty being agricultural land drapped over rolling limestone hills, and one I wondered how I'd missed, as I had passed by the A64 and M1 so many times, but never stopped to look at.
After correcting the mistake we soon arrived at Wingate Hill, which was the last hill before the vale of York started by the Aire. We soon zoomed into Tadcaster on the quiet road, and passed through Tadcaster, and picked up a easy going bridleway to Healaugh.
After Healaugh it was road all the way back. Although the vale of York is known for being flat, tired legs and a road than passes along a small ridge, meant it felt hilly. I used to ride out this way a lot, and my morale was lifted by familar roads. Poor old Dan, who wasn't familar with the area was starting to suffer. After leaving the road and heading up a small road we found ourself in Askham Richard, mear miles from York. In fact just as we crossed the A1237 we could see York Minster from the hill. We soon reached Acombe, and headed to Dan's house. If you were doing the ride, you'd carry on through Acombe and head to the station, and train back to were ever you started.