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The Tour de France in Yorkshire: our guide to the Grand Depart and more

By Helen Pentith  //  Wed 25th June 2014
Harrogate sign

It’s not often that the world’s biggest sporting events come to the magnificent county of Yorkshire. All too often, the sporting spotlight is on our cousins in the south. They had their moment with London 2012 (although one glance at the names on the medal table will reveal Yorkshire’s stellar contribution to the Olympic Games), and now it’s time for the north to show that it can also successfully host a major sporting event – the first two stages of the Tour de France. The Tour de France is the world’s most gruelling professional cycle race, with 2,272 miles of cycling to complete in just over two weeks. This historic race has taken place annually since 1903, and is the pinnacle of professional road cycling. Of course, for those of us who aren’t top-level athletes, we have to make do with watching the race instead. Here at Escrick Park, we’re already planning where best to watch the Tour from. Are you?

The stages

Yorkshire is lucky enough to host not just one stage of the Tour, but two. The first stage starts at Leeds, heads to Skipton and then weaves through the glorious Yorkshire Dales, paying a visit to picturesque market towns including Hawes and Ripon. The stage finishes with a sprint through Harrogate, where Mark Cavendish will hope to add a 26th stage win to his stunning Tour de France achievements.  

Stage 2 starts from York – less than 10 miles from the Escrick Park estate. After weaving through the historic (and in places, cobbled) streets of York, the peloton will head through West Yorkshire before the stage finishes in Sheffield. Wherever you are in Yorkshire, you’ll never be too far from the Tour.

Spectator guide

The cities and towns will be packed with eager spectators, so expect dozens of people to camp out at the most popular spots. If you’re heading from your Hollicarrs holiday home to watch the race in York, plan to get there as early as possible. It’ll be particularly packed around the Minster, with tourists and locals alike keen to grab a once-in-a-lifetime photograph to mark the occasion. For a quieter place to watch the race, head out to the Dales instead. You might need to trek a significant distance into the countryside to grab a spot away from other spectators, but the chance to see hundreds of the world’s best cyclists speeding through Yorkshire’s finest countryside might well make up for it.

If you don’t fancy waiting at the roadside for the peloton to pass, there are also several spectator hubs dotted around the various cities and towns that the tour is heading through. Those nearest to Escrick are situated at York Racecourse, Monk Stray in York and York’s Designer Outlet. These spectator hubs will contain refreshment stands, big screens and numerous activities for all the family to enjoy. Remember, the Tour de France is preceded by a nearly 200-vehicle long promotional caravan that heads out two-and-a-half hours before the riders do. There will plenty of opportunities to grab some freebies if you take your place by the roadside nice and early.

All of the staff here at Escrick Park can’t wait for the Tour to reach Yorkshire on the 5th and 6th of July. Give us a Tweet and share your plans for the Grand Depart with us.

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