My first recollection of this beautiful climb was on a ride to Whitby. After a gap of two decades I had sought out the local Cyclists’ Touring Club group whose route that day coincided with my own towards Malton, or thereabouts. After refreshments in Bell Mills outside Driffield I continued to keep up with the group despite having two full panniers of gear for a four-day mini-tour. I chatted away about how the oval chainrings of my Biopace chainset on my tourer definitely helped with low-gear efforts. Then it all started to go wrong. I think I may even have jumped off the front on the earlier, gentle slopes. Everyone went past me as I grunted up the deceptively strength-sapping climb. It just seemed to go on and on…
… No cyclists went past me on my last ride, just a surprisingly large number of cars – ironically, the closest pass came from the first of two cars laden with mountain bikes – perhaps there was an event on somewhere. Anyway, it’s normally a quiet ride with gorgeous views and a long, steady ascent similar to Water Dale out of Thixendale, or Millington Dale out towards Huggate. There’s also a little kick perhaps two-thirds of the way as you pass trees close to the road. Each time I try to keep up the pace so I don’t hang about and not dwell too long on the bend, which doesn’t have great sightlines for drivers of motor vehicles coming up behind. It never happens.
A string of telegraph poles in a field to the left helpfully points to where you will eventually reach the crossroads at the top of this rewarding climb. Roll on towards the Luttons or turn left to Sledmere for that slice of banana loaf to go with your coffee. I wouldn’t turn right on a bike.
A 100km anti-clockwise loop from the east of Hull that goes up Cowlam Hill.
The category ‘ Cycling Climbs ‘ is prompted by the excellent article ‘Hill Climbs on the Yorkshire Wolds’ written by Roger England and first published in the Winter 2010/2011 edition of the ‘Woldsman’ magazine. Five of the climbs that will be detailed are also contained in Simon Warren’s ‘Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire: A Road Cyclist’s Guide‘, which is highly recommended.