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Two days cycling in the Esk Valley, North York Moors

Last June I had a fabulous couple of days cycling and walking in the North York Moors

It was a kind of working holiday. Getting out to gather inspiration and get some new linocut ideas together. This part of my trip was about getting inspiration for a group York Printmakers exhibition that would have happened now, May 2020. I find it easier to get ‘in the creative zone’ if I have a block of time.

With the weather forecast being decidedly dodgy I jiggled things a bit.

I love being spontaneous. I rang the The Yorkshire Cycle Hub set in the stunning valley of Great Fryup Dale. I booked a bed in their bunk house for the night.

A few maps for my back pocket, my bike, walking boots and something for dinner and I was sorted.

Esk Valley - Day 1

With a road map in my back pocket I set off from the The Yorkshire Cycle Hub to explore the Esk Valley. I’d no particular plan.

With long daylight hours, I had all afternoon and evening. So I just thought I’d see how far my legs would take me and what inspired me. It was definitely hilly!

Each village is nestled in a valley, with steep roads in and out. What you do get though are stunning views of the village, the field lines that surround it and then the moorland tops on the horizon.

I headed towards Lealholm, onto Egton Bridge and couldn’t resist the ride over to Goathland where I treated myself to a cream tea in the garden of Goathland Tea Rooms.

Refuelled, I cycled towards Esk Valley village. I loved the views across the top where you can see down the valley to the sea and Whitby on the Yorkshire coast.

The whistle of a train could only mean one thing and I was lucky to spot it down in the valley. Unlikely that I’d catch it up, I cycled on to Grosmont to see friends at Grosmont House B&B. As luck would have it, I just as I got there the steam train was just reversing to fill up.

By now it was 5pm. I love the golden light, stillness in the air and sound of birdsong at that time of day. Needless to say it took me a while to get back to the bunk house! It was nearly 8pm.

Only 35 miles but over 4,000 ft of climbing. Time for a cuppa, sketch some ideas and enjoy the sunset.

Esk Valley - Day 2

A fry up in Fryup! It had to be done!!!

Thanks to Philip at The Yorkshire Cycle Hub for an early breakfast so I could make the most of the early sunshine.

Having spent the evening enjoying the views across Great Fryup Dale I had to go and explore the lanes around there and up onto the top of the Moors on the horizon. Back just in time for elevenses and a coffee before the rain started too.

It's amazing what you can pack into just over 24 hrs!

From there I headed over to the Yorkshire Coast. I don't mind walking in the rain.

First spend time in Runswick Bay. Walking along the beach and amongst it's red roofed cottages.

As it cleared up a little I walked up onto the Cleveland Way towards Staithes. I had no intention of going there. I just wanted to get a bit of height to enjoy the view.

But then it's me. A bit further , a bit further. I checked my phone to see if I could get a bus back. I could. So I carried onto Port Mulgrave and Staithes. On the drive home to York, I stopped off at Sandsend and the Hole of Horcum.

Lots of inspiration as you can imagine! I'll write a blog about that another day.

I've developed a few new designs from this trip. This is the first. 'Lealholm, Esk Valley'.

See how I made my new Lealholm linocut print in my How I made my Lealholm, Esk Valley linocut print blog.

To be first to hear about my latest designs, inspiration and workshops please join my mailing list.

I always love to hear your feedback. If there are places you'd like me to visit for inspiration, do let me know.

Thank you



About the author

Michelle Hughes is a North Yorkshire landscape artist. Much of her work depicts the Yorkshire landscape and Yorkshire coast, including the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors.

Michelle loves exploring the British countryside by bike or on foot, camera in hand, capturing ideas for her next linocut prints. Back in her garden studio, Michelle creates simple but stylised silhouettes based on her photographs, and hand carves these shapes into lino. She hand prints with an etching press, using oil-based inks to create tonal blocks of colour. Michelle’s original linocut prints are limited editions.

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