York Solar System Trail – Bishopthorpe, England - Atlas Obscura

York Solar System Trail

Bishopthorpe, England

Cycle the solar system—from the sun to Pluto—right here on earth.  


This cycle path, stretching for 6.4 miles along a disused train line from the outskirts of York to the nearby village of Riccall, features a to-scale model of the solar system.

While biking down this scenic path, cyclists will notice planets of our solar system represent. Uniquely, the distances between each planet are on a scale of 575,872,239:1. This means that walking faster than the speed of light along the path is a breeze, and a cycle will get you to around 10 times the speed of light.

Each of the planets has a small stand with some information about the planets and the distance (in 1000s of miles as well as the usual 100s of meters) to the next one. The cycle path was built in the mid-1980s as the first part of the now extensive National Cycle Network by Sustrans, although the Solar system model was not built until 1999, with the stands for the planets being made from old sewer pipes.

The cycle path features not only the scale model of the solar system but scale models of the Cassini and Voyager spacecraft as well as a sculpture by a local artist perched atop a steam-powered swing bridge and a grass maze. The York Solar System Trail is perhaps the only place on earth to bike through space.  

Know Before You Go

You can easily access the York Solar System Trail from York Park. Plan your trip accordingly using the trail's official website. 

The inner solar system can be easily accessed on foot from the park or the Askham Bar Park and Ride. To find short cuts to the other planets, there is parking opposite Jupiter which is a straightforward walk to Saturn. Parking for the outer planets is easiest from Old Escrick Station and Riccall.

The track itself is level and there are ramped accesses. The planets are easy to spot on top of plinths. A signpost indicates the number of metres to the next planet. 

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September 21, 2018

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