Harewood to Harrogate
Stage One of the Tour de France 2014 has been named ‘seven castles and seven cities’. Beginning at Leeds, below is what other highlights you can expect along your journey.
With the beauty of the Yorkshire dales on your doorstep, and the thriving hub of Leeds only a stones throw away, Harewood is the first stop after the Grand Depart. As the race passes through this little town, you can relax with some fine cuisine and a glass of wine in the historic Harewood Arms Hotel and restaurant, occupying a privileged position opposite the prestigious Harewood Estate.
The little market town of Skipton forms the official gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, and is home to the famous Copper Dragon Brewery, where thirsty race goers can stop and sample a variety of local, home-brewed ales and beers. Those who prefer a more cultural experience will be at home at Coffee and Clay, a pottery café where you can glaze your own pots whilst enjoying homemade cakes and sandwiches.
The route will then take riders to Kettlewell, a small village of limestone terraces with two small hotels at the main junction of the stunning Wharfe valley.
The slightly larger market town of Hawes on the river of Wensley is home to the highest single drop waterfall in England, as well as craft workshops, cafes and, of course, this is the region of origin for creamy Wensleydale cheese. The town is a stone’s throw from Buttertubs Pass, a treacherous, steep climb which is likely to test the endurance of even the strongest cyclists. The Penny Garth café is a popular meeting point in the area, and the perfect place to pick up a bacon butty, and a strong cup of Yorkshire tea before a long day following the race.
Passing through one of the most beautiful parts of the Dales, the Aysgarth Waterfalls serve as the perfect backdrop for a picnic stop. Two of the castles riders will pass include Richmond Castle, a Norman fortress where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Yorkshire Dales, and Bolton Castle, a medieval fortress in the heart of Wensleydale.
The Cathedral city of Ripon will be next on the route, attracting visitors since the 7th century it is rich in medieval architecture. If you’re looking for a spot of lunch in a quaint location then the Wakeman’s House Café offers homemade cakes, sandwiches, and the best hot chocolates in the north. Whilst if you are after something more upmarket, The Old Deanery offers contemporary food and an extensive wine list, and is listed The Good Food list and Michelin guide.
Another medieval town on the route is Middleham, a market town home to yet another English heritage castle, The Castle Keep tearooms are just next door. The Black Swan is a terraced historic pub in the town centre, which offers traditional food and ales, a perfect resting place before following riders to the final leg.
Forming the end of the first stage of the race, historic Harrogate is likely to be one of the busiest spots along the route. Whilst crowds are lining the cobbled streets with hopes of catching a Cavendish sprint finish, an escape can be found at the Drum and Monkey, a local favourite rumoured to be the best seafood restaurant in the north of England. If you’re after something lower key, and quintessentially British, then Betty’s Harrogate tea rooms have been attracting visitors for almost a century. Just make sure you nab a spot on the cobbles in the centre of town to watch the first rider race to victory.