York Solar System Cycleway


Regular Cycle Sprog readers will know that our guest blogger Emma is on a quest to explore the disused railway lines of Yorkshire to find family friendly cycle routes.  The old industrial heritage of the area means that there are plenty around, and this time she headed to the 6.4 mile long York Solar System Cycleway.

One of the most important things about going on a family bike ride with small children is avoiding boredom, and there is definitely plenty to keep the children’s interest as this cycle route is a scale model of the Solar System, spread out along 6.4 miles of the old East Coast main-line railway.

Along it you can find scale models of all the planets in our solar system as well as models of two Space Shuttles – the Cassini and the Voyager.

Here we are at Jupiter – it’s not everyday you follow signs to Mars or Saturn!

York Solar System Cycleway - getting up close to Jupiter!

The York Solar System Cycleway is very educational (even the adults learnt something!).  The models of the planets are to scale, as well as the distances between the planets. This cleverly means that as you travel towards the Sun the planets get closer and closer together.

Unfortunately we missed Pluto on our way towards the Sun as it was up a spur up a short incline to the right as you join the main route. A few of the slower riders managed to find it on our return journey.

As well as the space themed ride towards the sun, there is also fun area under the A64 road bridge next to the Sun when you get there. It has a series of lumps and bumps to play on, making the journey even more worthwhile for little riders.

York Solar System Cycleway – the practicalities

The York Solar System Cycleway is a fabulous family cycling route which I would thoroughly recommend for all ages.

The path is mainly off road with one very short on road section through a quiet housing estate.

York Solar System Cycleway is flat and suitable for all ages

Arriving by car:

If you are driving to the start of this cycle route, you can park at the Pluto end of the route in the village of Riccall just off the A19 south of York.

Jamie reported that they rode from the Sun to Pluto, where they had a picnic and then rode all the way back again. Here’s a photo he took at Saturn:

Posted by Jamie Barber on Sunday, 18 October 2020


What’s it like riding the York Solar System Cycleway with kids? 

Jamie also created this great video on You Tube, which really shows what the route is like to ride the York Solar System route – it really brings home how huge our solar system is! 



Arriving by bike or train:

The York Solar System Cycleway forms part of the National Cycleway Route 65 (Yorks to Selby Sustrans Route) and was one of Sustrans first traffic free paths.  Follow the signs for Route 65 from York Railway Station. It’s possible to purchase a Cycle Map of the area.

Interesting fact: Sustrans bought the trackbed of the old East Coast Mainline railway for just £1!

Refreshments and toilets:

There are no facilities at either end of the route but there is a quirky serve yourself honesty café on the route where you can get hot and cold drinks, ice creams and homemade cakes as well as provides toilet facilities.

If you want more information about the Solar System model itself, it has it’s own website, which also gives more facts and figures about each of the planets

About the Author:  Emma Young is a mum of two children and a transport planner, promoting sustainable transport. As well as being a guest blogger for Cycle Sprog she also runs the Child Friendly Bike Rides in Yorkshire Facebook Group.

Other posts you should check out:


This post was first published in February 2017, and updated in January 2021. 


Chris F ?

Desperately in need of maintenance. Farmer Palmer has been busy thrashing the trees and hedgerows but didn’t/hasn’t picked up the thistles and thorns. Very uneven cycling surface now. Avoid it and ride on the road.


So sorry to hear this Chris – it’s always such a pain when the hedgerows have been cut back and the thorns get in the tyres. If they don’t get cut back the paths become unrideable – it would be nice if they were cleared after cuttings to prevent this happening. Hopefully the will wash away after some heavy rain. Karen

Chris F ?

Definitely the last time I ride this cycle path. Path is uneven and difficult to ride. Two punctures today and actually witnessed a young ride ‘bucked off’ her bike by the uneven road surface. Did return journey by road. So so sad ?

Derek Langbridge

Your description of the York solar system cycleway parking at askham bar is totally wrong, you could land people using this site with a £50 fine as this car park is only for park & ride patrons & not for parking to ride the solar route this is posted all around the car park, you can be fined for juat walking off the site as posted @ the start of the route.

Penny Millar

Hi Derek
Thank’s for your comment. This post was originally written in 2017, so the information on the parking could well now be incorrect. We have removed this from the post and thank you for advising us that the Park and Ride is not available to those using the cycleway. Kind regards, Penny

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