50 Classic Cycle Climbs: Yorkshire & Peak District (Enhanced Edition) - James Allen - E-Book

50 Classic Cycle Climbs: Yorkshire & Peak District (Enhanced Edition) E-Book

James Allen

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  • Herausgeber: Crowood
  • Kategorie: Lebensstil
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Veröffentlichungsjahr: 2014

THIS ENHANCED EDITION CONTAINS VIDEO CLIPS OF THREE OF THE CLIMBS (Subject to viewing on a compatible device) Riding up hills is the ultimate challenge for a cyclist. It's the quickest way to gauge fitness levels, the best workout and then there's the reward of an exhilarating descent. This guide is a compilation of some of the best hills in Yorkshire and the Peak District. It's not a definitive list of the Top 50 hardest climbs, instead, author James Allen has selected some of the most iconic, the most thrilling, the most interesting and most varied - as well as the toughest - hill climbs that this region has to offer. Hopefully, there's something here for everyone, whether you're a 'Weekend Warrior' or a serious road racer - just get out there and enjoy the ride. Fully illustrated with 55 colour photographs, maps and profiles

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Yorkshire & Peak District

James Allen


First published in 2014 by

The Crowood Press Ltd

Ramsbury, Marlborough

Wiltshire SN8 2HR


This e-Book first published in 2014

© James Allen 2014

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers.

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

ISBN 978 1 84797 763 2

All photographs by James Allen, except where indicated otherwise.

Frontispiece: The author riding up Pea Royd Lane. (Photo: Mark Jarvis)


Overview Map

About the Author


About the Book


Peak District and South Yorkshire

1. Butterton

2. Curbar Gap

3. Deliverance

4. High Bradfield

5. Holme Moss

6. Jawbone Hill

7. Jenkin Road

8. Longstone Edge

9. Mam Nick

10. Monsal Head

11. Pea Royd Lane

12. Pym Chair

13. Scotsman’s

14. Stainborough

15. Winnats Pass

West Yorkshire

16. Cragg Vale

17. Halifax Lane

18. Ilkley Moor

19. Jackson Bridge

20. Meal Hill

21. Mytholm Steeps

22. Norwood Road

23. Robin Hood Climb

24. Shibden Wall

25. Thwaites Brow

26. Trooper Lane

The Dales and Nidderdale

27. Buttertubs Pass

28. Fleet Moss

29. Guise Cliff

30. Hartwith Bank

31. Langbar

32. Langcliffe Scar

33. Malham

34. Oxnop Scar

35. Park Rash

36. Trapping Hill

37. Turf Moor

North Yorkshire Moors and Wolds

38. Acklam Brow

39. Black Brow

40. Blakey Bank

41. Carlton Bank

42. Egton Moor

43. Glaisdale Head

44. Heygate Ban

45. Murton Bank

46. Robin Hood’s Bay

47. Rosedale Chimney

48. Sneck Yate Bank

49. Street Hill

50. White Horse Bank

Bike Shops


James has been interested in the outdoors and fitness from an early age. He started mountain biking as a teenager, but turned to road cycling as an adult to strengthen the leg muscles following a cruciate knee injury. Since then he has taken part in a range of road cycling events including sportives, time trials and road races. However, he has a particular liking for hill climb events due to their purity, but also their severity. He enjoys training and rides around 10,000 miles per year.

In the past James has also been a triathlete and competed at Ironman UK Triathlon in 2008. He has also completed a number of large cycling events on the continent including La Marmotte. James holds a degree in Physical Education and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Sport and Exercise Science. Finally, and most importantly, he is a father and devoted husband.

Photo: Flaming Photography.


I could not ride my bike to the extent that I do, and I would never have been able to write this book, if it weren’t for my beautiful, patient, resourceful and (currently) pregnant wife Jane. She has been a solid support through all my riding and racing.

I must also thank my three-year-old boy who has also shown great patience during the many hours I have been tapping away at the laptop rather than playing with him. I owe you Tom, especially for your cheers in the cold autumn rain during hill climb races. ‘Nan-Nan Doreen’ has also been a magnificent support over the years at races. Your encouragement has been invaluable.

In the cycling community there are far too many people to mention. However, I would like to say a collective thanks to all who know me through cycling, because you are a major reason that this sport is as enjoyable and rewarding as it is. Through injury, defeat, good times and triumph, the cycling community are a fantastic and incredibly supportive bunch. It’s a pleasure to be a cyclist. Specific thanks must go to a few friends who have helped me research and produce this book. Simon Jackson, Danny Lowthorpe, Matt Newton, Neil Bentley, Mayur Ranchordas, and my brother Keven Allen have all been patient whilst I have waffled on about hill climbs. They have taken the time to be photographed or help with research when asked so I am much obliged.

Finally, and most fundamentally, I am grateful for the support of my wonderful parents who have supported me consistently throughout my life. To my mum who is the most gentle, measured and emotionally intelligent person I know: you are a template for my life. And to my dad, who is the essential structure and the inspiration for my writing and working life. I love your passion for written words and I have learned so much from you. Indeed, if it were not for you, I wouldn’t have the skills or confidence even to attempt to write a book.

I dedicate this book to my Dad and to my wife.


The book is divided into four sections: The Peak District and South Yorkshire; West Yorkshire: The Dales and Nidderdale; and North Yorkshire Moors and Wolds. These four sections are colour-coded for ease of reference.

Each description starts with a table of facts about the climb, including a difficulty rating out of 10 within the context of the 50 climbs listed in the book. Also included is the address of a local café or tearoom where tired riders can compare their own experience over a tea or coffee and slice of cake.

DifficultyDistance1.5kmAv. Gradient11%Max. Gradient20%Height Gain167mStart PointHooleyhey Lane crossing with Todd Brook GR: 983763 (OS Landranger: 118)Local Cafés

Yellow Teapot Café, Smith Lane, Rainow, Macclesfield SK10 5XJ

01625 574878

The map shows the start and finish point of the climb and the route it follows. We would recommend taking an OS map or a GPS system to help in plotting your route in more detail.

At the end of the book is a list of bike shops in the region, organised in book order. Each bike shop relates to one or more of the climbs so there’ll be one nearby if you’re in need of spares, repairs or just some good local advice.


How do you select fifty of the best climbs in the Peak District and Yorkshire? The whole area is littered with hills and choosing only fifty is no mean feat. In the case of those described here, I have aimed for climbs that are amongst the toughest, but toughness is not the only criterion. The climbs also have to be iconic, remarkable or simply a joy to ride. Indeed, there are some climbs in this book that give an intrinsic thrill for reasons that are not always completely evident. I have therefore tried to mix instinct with rational decision-making when choosing the best. I have no doubt there will be many readers who may have different opinions about what makes a classic climb, but that’s all part of the fun.

Each climb has been given a score out of ten in terms of its difficulty. This is also a debatable aspect of each climb because there are many variables that can influence how challenging an ascent is on a particular day. Wind direction, temperature, fatigue, mental approach, fear and a rider’s equipment all play a part in how a climb is perceived. A bike’s gearing is also crucial as smaller gears will allow most to climb some of the steepest slopes if taken slow enough. Indeed, even a 30% slope, although frightening, is not completely destructive if it is relatively short, then followed by an easier stretch. It’s not that it’s ever easy – it’s just slightly more attainable. However, with conventional gearing some climbs become extremely difficult, especially if the slope is sustained around a 20% gradient for 200 metres or more. On such slopes most riders, regardless of fitness, will be close to (or beyond) their limit for enough time to make it seriously unpleasant. This is what I believe makes the toughest of climbs.

Another factor in selecting climbs for inclusion in this book is the overall experience when riding them. This is even more subjective than difficulty level, but it is a key aspect of what makes a ‘classic’. It might be a climb’s spectacular surroundings or the dynamics of the road that make it particularly enjoyable. It might also be that top riders from the past have left their mark, so there is the buzz of riding on the same tarmac. Or it could just be that ‘x-factor’ separating it from the countless others that might warrant inclusion.

It’s enjoyable to analyse and discuss climbs, but the real pleasure comes from riding them. Indeed, I hope this book reveals my enthusiasm for cycling and the challenge of riding hills. Setting off with the goal of riding one of the hardest climbs then reaching the summit amongst some of the finest scenery in the world is truly gripping. Enjoy the ride!


DifficultyDistance0.7kmAv. Gradient12.7%Max. Gradient23%Height Gain92mStart PointWetton Mill; Easton end of Wetton Road in Manifold Valley. GR: 095561 (OS Landranger 119)Local Cafés

Wetton Mill Tea Rooms, WettonMill Road, Manifold Valley, Nr Ashbourne, DE6 2AG

01298 84838

The Dovedale and Manifold valleys in the Southern Peak District are simply breathtaking. Few places are so scenic and tranquil, and there is a glut of superb climbs to have a crack at.

This climb, one of the most demanding in the area, leaves the gently flowing River Manifold and soars rapidly into Staffordshire towards the quaint village of Butterton. The approach to the climb takes you along the valley floor alongside the River Manifold. Rapid upward progress begins almost immediately as you turn off the valley lane following the signs to Butterton. You are propelled quickly to a double-digit incline over the first 100 metres, in stark contrast to the approach. Yet a more substantial blow lurks around the next right-hand corner.

You are led into a dark, tunnel-like cutting where the road steepens considerably towards 23%. Meanwhile, the trees overhang and the close confines rise several metres above, enclosing upon you and creating a sense of claustrophobia. You really have to battle with the bike to overcome this short but brutal section because the remaining route is a joy. This begins as you exit the cutting and your attention is quickly drawn to the surprise view opening to your right. The Manifold Valley now lies far beneath and verifies the remarkable rate of climb you have achieved so far. Impressive triangular and dome-shaped hills are now at eye level, providing considerable satisfaction despite the fact that much of the climb remains.

The climb continues with a seriously steep incline for 100 metres as views now open to your left. Soon some respite allows you an opportunity to absorb some of this splendour. The climb passes through a typical rural scene with moss-covered dry stone walls and patchwork fields. Trees overhang the road and there is one more steep pitch into double figures before the final stretch. The road becomes bumpy (nothing too damaging); a small farm building appears on the left and a lay-by marks the end of the ascent. It’s a chance for a breather before you roll through Butterton or return to the valley to sample another of the classic climbs close by.


DifficultyDistance1.6kmAv. Gradient11.3%Max. Gradient18%Height Gain181mStart PointSouth-western end of Curbar Lane at junction with Dukes Drive by All Saints Church, just off A623 Baslow Road. GR: 247745 (OS Landranger: 119)Local Cafés

Palmers Café, Baslow Road, Calver S323 XH

01433 631111

The old Roman road and former packhorse route, which climbs through Curbar village towards the skyline, is both picturesque and testing in equal measure. From the turn into Curbar Lane there is no hesitation as you are taken directly upwards on a strenuous opening. The gradient hovers consistently around 18% as you pass benches strategically placed to provide a breather for anyone walking to the village above. It’s important to hold a little in reserve here, as you can easily go too hard on this first 200 metres and pay for it later. The road then bends right after this very steep start, entering the small village of Curbar where you can catch your breath a little and prepare for the second part of the climb. The slope remains challenging at 6–10% but it is enough to allow the legs to turn more freely as the wild moorland appears beyond the houses up ahead.

The distinctive ‘V’ formed by the gap between Curbar and Baslow Edges now draws you towards the summit, but there is still some way to go as the road winds its way up the hillside past huge gritstone boulders. The next 200 metres becomes very steep again at around 13% whilst the spectacular crags towering impressively above. This gives you some indication of the vertical height yet to be climbed, so with only 400 metres of road remaining before the summit, the steep 16% gradient on the next right-hand bend is inescapable.

The final slope is more exposed, but now offers fabulous views to the south towards the Chatsworth Estate. The route is now straight and comparatively sustained at roughly 10%. This is where you will encounter a carnival atmosphere if you should find yourself at the BUCS hill climb, where students in fancy dress demand a final, last-gasp effort from the riders. Even without these crazed academics to encourage you, with the finish so close you may summon the reserves to make a final strong push towards the crest of the hill. There is a subtle increase in steepness to 15% as you approach, but this is short-lived and as you find yourself within Curbar Gap itself the climb is complete.


DifficultyDistance1kmAv. Gradient13.1%Max. Gradient23%Height Gain130mStart PointMortimer Road crossing with Ewden Beck GR: 242968 (OS Landranger: 110)Local Cafés