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Best of British road climbs

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Best of British road climbs

Road Cycling Collection by Katherine Moore

10

Tours

27:42 h

299 mi

29,625 ft

For a set of small islands, Great Britain boasts a remarkable diversity of landscapes, from steep-sided glacial hillsides to gentle river valleys, swathes of rich agricultural land to masses of dense forest. Linking these, great black ribbons of tarmac run the length and breadth of the land, from coast-hugging cliff-top roads to quiet country back lanes, mountain passes and urban streets.

For as long as cyclists have explored the British Isles, they’ve sought the toughest and most challenging climbs to pit themselves against. Sure, equipment has come a long way since those early days on two wheels, and thankfully our roads tend to be a lot more favourable too, but we still find this almost inexplicable urge to tackle these uphill gradients.

By no means an easy feat in itself to narrow it down to just ten, you’ll find some of our favourite, most feared and most loved climbs in the UK in this Collection. Spread from the rough moorland of Dartmoor in Devon to the utterly remote Scottish Highlands, here you’ll find some of the most spectacular roads that you could ever wish to ride up.

You’ll probably recognise a few of these, too; the well-known Honister Pass of the Lake District or much-visited Winnats Pass climb in the Dark Peak, but there are a few others included that you might not be familiar with. While Swain’s Lane in London is a mere blip in comparison to many of these inclines, it’s importance as an inner-city training ground for many urban cyclists earns it a place among more scenic climbs in this Collection.

Are you looking for your next big challenge, either on your doorstep or somewhere new to aim for? Do you crave the leg-burn of an uphill effort, the thrilling descent on the other side, or simply enjoy exploring new turf (or should that be tarmac)? This could just be the perfect inspiration for you.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Dunkery Beacon, Exmoor — Best of British road climbs

    Difficult
    02:19
    22.7 mi
    9.8 mph
    3,025 ft
    3,025 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Anyone who’s ever ridden on Exmoor will be familiar with the relentless climbs, steep hillside ascents and incredible scenes that it delivers.

    

    Dunkery Beacon marks the highest point in this National Park. With a challenging sliver of tarmac stretching up towards the summit from the coastline, it’s a

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Intermediate
    02:38
    26.9 mi
    10.3 mph
    2,825 ft
    2,825 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Home to the 2019 National Hill Climb Championships and featured on the Tour of Britain, Haytor is a very well known climb on the fringes of Dartmoor, gaining 1,100 feet (335 m) over it’s long 3.3 mile (5.4 km) course.

    

    If you love long and steady climbs, this is definitely one for you, and you’ll enjoy

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Easy
    00:45
    8.70 mi
    11.5 mph
    675 ft
    675 ft
    Easy road ride. Great for any fitness level. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Perhaps not the most scenic climb in our collection, nor one you might travel the length of the country to visit, bit Swain’s Lane is a real classic for inner city cyclists in the capital of London. This short and snappy route makes for an ideal pre- or post-work ride to get some good climbs in, based

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    02:39
    29.7 mi
    11.2 mph
    3,200 ft
    3,200 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    This route in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales really is a buy one get one free; to get to the climb of Oxnop Scar you’ll have to conquer Buttertubs Pass first! A popular setting for the Tour of Britain and of course Tour de Yorkshire, it really is a cyclist’s playground with many long and sometimes

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Intermediate
    02:25
    26.1 mi
    10.8 mph
    2,375 ft
    2,375 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Ever wondered what ‘bwlch’ means? It’s Welsh for mountain pass, and the climb on the menu for this route is Bwlch Penbarras in the little-explored Clwydian Range, a chain of hill peaks in North-East Wales.

    

    This route heads out from Ruthin, the county town of Denbighshire heading straight up into the

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    04:03
    42.6 mi
    10.5 mph
    3,725 ft
    3,725 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Expansive and empty, the Abergwesyn Valley is one of the most stunning places to ride in Wales, and one of its best kept secrets. The moorland river valley leads to the testing Devil’s Staircase climb, a couple of really steep hairpin bends that’ll challenge even the strongest mountain goat climbers

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Intermediate
    02:07
    22.8 mi
    10.7 mph
    2,275 ft
    2,300 ft
    Intermediate road ride. Good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Often named as the hardest climb in the Lake District, Honister Pass is nothing less than a brutal stretch of road. Often featured in the Tour of Britain, and annually in the Fred Whitton Challenge, the climb is 1.4 miles (2.2 km) long with an average gradient of 10%, maxing out at 25% for a brief moment

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    03:42
    37.6 mi
    10.2 mph
    3,875 ft
    3,875 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    The North York Moors is an incredible place to ride a bike; vast, remote landscapes, banks of hills, quaint little villages and often quiet back lanes. Rosedale Chimney is perhaps the toughest climb of all in the area, rated as 10/10 difficulty in Simon Warren’s ‘100 Greatest Cycling Climbs’!

    

    This route

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    03:33
    38.7 mi
    10.9 mph
    3,650 ft
    3,025 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Some portions of the Tour may be unpaved and difficult to ride.

    Towering rock faces, leg-busting gradients and views for miles; this is the Peak District. A little different to the other routes in this collection, this is an A-to-B ride from Matlock to Buxton, two major Peak District towns. Both boast train stations so you can either link the two by train to extend

    by Katherine Moore

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  • Difficult
    03:32
    42.7 mi
    12.1 mph
    4,000 ft
    4,000 ft
    Expert road ride. Very good fitness required. Mostly well-paved surfaces and easy to ride.

    Not for the faint-hearted, this mighty mountain climb in the remote Scottish Highlands is one that many riders from all over the world make a pilgrimage to, in order to tackle its steep and unrelenting slopes among exquisite scenery.

    

    Bealach-na-ba is a mountain pass that links the coastal village of

    by Katherine Moore

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    10
  • Distance
    299 mi
  • Duration
    27:42 h
  • Elevation
    29,625 ft

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