Great British road trips: The Yorkshire Moors in a Bentley Flying Spur
- By Rory FH Smith
A version of this article was first published on YesAuto UK.
Join Rory FH Smith on the ultimate road trip as he maps out the best driving road, stops and sights on the Yorkshire Moors behind the wheel of a Bentley Flying Spur.
The car: Bentley Flying Spur W12 First Edition, £168,300 (as tested)
When it comes to road trips or grand touring, Bentley means business.
Ever since the rakish Bentley Boys of the rip-roaring 1920s and 30s drove their Blower Bentley's across the continent to race a Le Mans and back to Berkeley Square for a stiff drink, the marque has always been about the journey. And now, more than a century on, the carmaker from Crewe is still top of its game when it comes to mile-munching in speed, style and comfort.
Enter the new Flying Spur - the longer, roomier and more stately sister ship of the Continental GT and GTC. While most Flying Spurs are destined for city life and limousine duties, Bentley's five-door Flying Spur is the perfect grand tourer. Comfortable enough for four (or five at a push) and their luggage, the Spur is capable of either quietly cruising through the countryside or opening up on a B-road blast, should the occasion arise. Its only sticking point is its imperious size, which can prove problematic on some tight country lanes and villages.
The best driving route on the Yorkshire Moors
Helmsley to Whitby via Blakey Ridg
Look familiar? Well, it should. Blakey Ridge is widely regarded as one of the best driving roads in the UK and a firm favourite with the Top Gear team over the years. Either side of Blakey Ridge sit the market town of Helmsley to the south - our starting point - and our destination of Whitby harbour on the Yorkshire coast.
Setting off in the Flying Spur from the picturesque market town of Helmsley, we head east on the A170 to Kirbymoorside before heading off the A-road in the direction of Hutton-le-Hole. Despite the European sounding name, it's a quintessential countryside village, complete with free-roaming sheep a babbling brook, a tea room and, er, a folk museum.
From Hutton-le-Hole, the road climbs up and out of the village before opening out spectacularly onto the wilderness of the Moors. While the road itself is one of the most entertaining stretches of asphalt in the country, it's hard not to take in the scenery on either side.
As the name suggests, the road is perched on top of a ridgeway with dramatic valleys on either side and views across the North Yorkshire Moors national park. Now is the time to flick into sports mode, hit the paddle shifters and relish the full force of the Spur's 6.0-litre W12 powerplant that produces 635bhp. For a car weighing close to 2.5 tonnes, the Spur makes short work of the twisty, switchback roads thanks to its trick suspension and sizeable brakes. Oh, just watch out for the many free-range sheep.
Blasting past the Lion Inn pub halfway along and the road starts to descend steadily towards the village of Castleton. From here, the route dips down to follow the River Esk briefly before climbing back up onto the moors for one last blast to meet the A171.
Calling for more stately driving, as we cruise towards the coast, branch left off the A171 after a short stretch to meet up with the A174. This road is the prettier approach as it takes you down through the quaint seaside village of Sandsend and along the coast towards Whitby. Finishing up with fish and chips in hand, the Flying Spur completes its road trip duties for the day.
Where to stop off on route
The market square, Helmsley
Home to some of the best delis, cute cafes and restaurants, Helmsley is a great place to start any Yorkshire Moors road trip. We grabbed a snack at Hunter's deli in the market square before hitting the road.
The Lion Inn, Blakey Ridge
Situated halfway along the route is the Lion Inn pub. A firm favourite for travellers, bikers and drivers in need of some shelter from the elements or some mid-way refreshment, the pub offered up a hearty British lunch, served in a traditional pub setting.
The Magpie Cafe, Whitby
For fish and chips, there's only one place to go in Whitby and that's the Magpie Cafe. located on the harbour front, it's the ideal spot for us to fuel up after the drive and take in the sights and sounds of Whitby harbour.
The best sights to see on route
Duncombe Park, Helmsley
One of Yorkshire’s finest historic houses and estates, stretch the legs around some of Duncombe Park's 450 acres of spectacular gardens, parklands and nature reserve.
Acting as the gateway to the driving mecca that is Blakey Ridge, Hutton-le-Hole is worth a stop to take in sights, sounds and smells of quintessential British village life.
Whitby Old Town, Whitby
Wander through the cobbled streets of Whitby's old town and discover quirky shops on the way up to the Abbey at the top of the East Cliff. Featured in Bram Stoker's 1897 novel Dracula, the Abbey offers stunning views across the harbour and out to sea.