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Cycle the Solar System

York's 10km scale model of the solar system

The York-Riccall Cycle Track

The York-Riccall section of the cycle track runs along the main railway line to the North, the route of Flying Scotsman. When the Selby coalfield was developed in the early 1980s the line was diverted. The route was bought by the newly formed Sustrans for 1. Much of the cost of the track was met by selling the ballast from the old railway line to the builders of the York northern ring road. The construction of this track in 1985-87 was the first venture for Sustrans, who have gone on to create the National Cycle Network with the help of a 43.4 million grant from the Millennium Commission. The first 5000 miles of cycle/pedestrian friendly routes opened in June 2000, with the promise of 10,000 miles open by 2005.

Cycle the Solar System

This scale model of the Solar System, spread out over 6-4 miles, a littler over 10 km, was created in 1999 with the help of a Royal Society - British Association Millennium Award to 3 scientists from the University of York, Dave Coulthard, Willy Hoedeman and Peter Thompson. The scale of the model is 575,872,239:1; this means a single stride will take you 500,000 km and a brisk walking speed will take you at three times the speed of light. A cyclist can travel at 10 times the speed of light with ease. This means that every journey ends before it begins and every time you travel on the route you will be a little younger at the end than when you started.

Cycling from York city centre either take Blossom Street to Tadcaster Road, (the cycle track starts just beyond Tesco's) or for a more traffic-free route, take Terry Avenue along the west bank of the Ouse downstream, past the Millennium bridge site and on past Terry's to the race-course. Ride along the track round the edge of the Knavesmire; this will bring you to the Sun. If you are bringing your bikes by car, the best place to park is probably behind the race course stands, from where one can access the cycle track. Tesco's on Tadcaster Road has a large car park for customers and there is a park & ride there. Access also from Bishopthorpe which has shops and 3 pubs, The Marcia, Woodsman and Ebor. All have gardens and good food should be available in at least two of them on any day.

Along the route there is access at several points with parking available at Escrick old station. The turf maze here makes a good picnic spot along the route.

From the south the track can be reached from Riccall, just beyond Pluto, where there are two pubs and a post-office stores. Both pubs have parking and gardens with good facilities for children. The Greyhound (Bass) is slightly closer to the track and sports the CTC 'winged wheel' outside. We recommend The Hare & Hounds (John Smith), a friendly pub with good pub food (not Tuesday).

For walkers the route from the Sun to Saturn and back is a pleasant stroll of less than 4 miles in total; there is much of interest along the way: the Sun, 6 planets and the Naburn swing bridge over the Ouse.

More information: please visit www.solar.york.ac.uk. The site includes photos, more information, a 30-question quiz and links to other sites. Email via .


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