So here they are my top 10 ruddy hard climbs in 2013.
#1 Crowcombe Climb (Somerset – Quantock Hills)Part of the Somerset Hills Fondo Sportive this ascent does not climb up the side of a mountain infact it starts in a nice sleepy Somerset village then as you ride out the village and take the left fork you are faced with a wall of tarmac in front of you, the ascent is just less than a mile but the climb is relentless 20-25% all the way up in an almost straight line, thankfully it is a quiet road as I needed to zigzag across the road to get up. Although only a relatively short climb this really is a beast and easily claims my No.1 spot.
#2 High Hill Lane out of Settle (Yorkshire Dales)The next 9 climbs are very close and could easily be in a different order, but I’m doing these in order of how difficult I found them. I did this climb as part of the White Rose Classic Sportive. The combination of the first very steep section up High Hill lane added to the long gradual climb thereafter is why this is in second place. The initial steep climb out of Settle really is a brute kicking up over 20% then easing but still climbing as you pass Scaleber Waterfall and onto Black Gill Lane.
#3 Crag Side Road (Semer Water, Yorkshire Dales)This really is a wicked climb a bit of a hidden gem as not many references seem to be around for it and could quite easily have been in second place. This climb is in Raydale which itself seems to be forgotten dale amongst its more illustrious neighbour Wensleydale. The climb starts down on the shore line of Semer Water and immediately has a short 25% climb up to the crossroads, taking the road sign posted Hawes you can see the route of the road as it climbs up out of the valley. The ascent continues at around 15% until you come to a tight hair pin where again it kicks up over 20% lungs are now bursting and legs burning, but fear not it eases off and when you get to the left hand bend you’ve reached the top. I spent a week in Raydale earlier this year and did this climb a few times during the week which I believe set me in good stead the rest of the year.
#4 Langbar (Yorkshire Dales)
Another from the White Rose Classic Sportive and this one was literally right at the end so the legs were already tired when I reached it. The Langbar climb starts gently until you come face to face with the real climb ahead 20%+. Maybe because I was already tired when I hit this but I found this tough and to make matters worse there was a photographer half way up!!
#5 Dead Friars Bank / Horseshoe Hill (Durham Dales)First entry from the Etape Pennines Sportive and it is the length of this climb which puts this in the top 5, after a very enjoyable descent down to Baybridge a sharp right hand and immediately you are climbing steeply up through the trees and the climbing just keeps on going never going over 20% but constantly around 15% for over 2km it then eases before rising sharply again onto Dead Friars then easing again as you pass under Horseshoe Hill.
#6 New House to Middlehope Hill climb (Durham Dales)Second of three Etape Pennines entries, this starts very steeply passing houses and gains height rapidly it is only after negotiating three tight corners that the gradient finally eases however it is not time to relax, some hard graft is still required as the road climbs steadily up to the coppice of trees on Middlehope Hill.
#7 Bwlch y Groes (Snowdonia)
The softies route from Llanuwchllyn. I’m certainly not scared of the other tougher route I’ve just not had the opportunity to cycle it, perhaps one for 2014. Back to this one and although it is not really that steep it gains a lot of height and is the longest climb of the list. I actually really like this climb and it is a firm favourite of mine I will happily do this again and again; it gradually climbs up past farm after farm then a short sharp climb through the trees and the wonderful views open up this is a superb section from here up to the car park.
#8 Llanberis Pass (Snowdonia)
The Iconic Llanberis Pass, I have descended and ascended this road, again like #7 it is not overly steep but long and gradual, the type of climb that I really like. You really do feel small as the Snowdon and Glyderau massif’s tower above you on each side, just awesome.
#9 Hirnant from Lake Vyrnwy (Snowdonia)
A long drag from Lake Vyrnwy it starts with the steepest section up through some trees which is almost like two mini sections in one. Then a bit of rest bite passing a scenic bridge before climbing again, up through the trees, with what seemed like loads of false summits, when emerging from the forest you’re nearly there, still ascending gradually before topping out just by a ‘Snowdonia’ sign ready for a nice descent down the Hirnant valley.
#10 Langdon Common Climb (Durham Dales)The final Etape Pennines entry and also the highest entry at 2,057ft after passing through Langdon Beck turn right to head up onto Langdon Common, this starts with a small climb up over a cattle grid then a nice descent down to cross a bridge over the beck before starting the main climb up onto the moor, the climb is steep but not overly steep it does however kick up over 15% near the top, if you can and it is a nice day try to look over your shoulder as the views are very nice.
Other notable climbs I’ve done this year.Red Burn Climb (Durham Dales), Drws-y-Coed (Snowdonia), Cheddar Gorge (Somerset), Llan Ffestiniog (Snowdonia), Crimea Pass (Snowdonia), Pen y Pass (Snowdonia) & Michaelgate (Lincoln).
You will notice that there are no entries from the Lake District yet, I’m hoping and very confident that my 2014 list will include quite a number from the Lakes JWhat have I done locally? well Whiteleaf (Princess Risborough) stands out, Bison Hill (Whipsnade Zoo) then of course there is my local hill Brill, which I have been up more times than I can count.
Hope you enjoyed this as much as I enjoyed riding them. Well actually at the time I didn’t enjoy them it was only after completing them I enjoyed that I look back with a smile on my face.