Tag Archives: Yorkshire Wolds Hill Climbs

Hill Climbs on the Yorkshire Wolds

With the increased popularity of cyclo-sportives there have been numerous articles in the national magazines covering some of the country‚Äôs toughest climbs. Also we now have a book describing the UK’s ’100 Greatest Climbs’. Not surprisingly none of our local climbs feature in any of these publications. Our local roads do not have the severe gradients or the length to match those on the Moors or Dales and tend to be overlooked, but there are times when returning home from a ride Trundlegate feels like my personal ‘Killer Climb’.

Burdale 2
Burdale: a short, sharp climb but is it long enough to be amongst the toughest climbs on the Wolds?

In addition to the various articles there are a number of web sites devoted to cataloguing climbs, and one site, climbbybike.com does list one of our local climbs, Staxton Brow. This site is different in that it gives each climb a ‘Difficulty Score’ in an attempt to provide a comparison between different climbs. Staxton scores 44 compared with Blakey Bank on the Moors at 70, and the Lake District’s Hardknott Pass (West) which tops the English climbs with a score of 106. These scores show why climbs on the Wolds do not figure in national surveys. Nevertheless some of the climbs can offer tough challenges to a tired rider.

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Cycling Climbs: Birdsall Brow

Of the three climbs that meet at the top of the hills out of Thixendale and Leavening, it is Birdsall Brow that can be relied upon to defeat me most of the time. Water Dale from Thixendale is a long drag – although not at all in the tedious sense of the word – and Leavening Bank offers the respite with the early dog leg bend to spread out the uphill exertion. Birdsall Brow, on the other hand, offers none of that; after an almost imperceptible rise from the Birdsall Manor road there is no momentum left before the short ramp at the bottom of the climb triggers an adrenaline dump that has me clicking through the low gears on my road bike until no more options remain.

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Cycling Climbs: Leavening Bank

Of all the Yorkshire Wolds hills Leavening Bank is the one that I always seem to approach via a leg-sapping loosener. In the case of Leavening Bank it is usually the arrow-straight roller coaster Castle Howard road. Perhaps we should be grateful that this lengthy drag has an early dog leg to get up the first stiff yards as a more direct line up the escarpment would surely be too punishing to bear.

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Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire: A Road Cyclist’s Guide (Review)

A recurring theme in reviews for the original 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs went something like “Why wasn’t such-and-such hill included?” Fans of Scottish hill climbs in particular took offence at the ratio of their favourites to those in Wales (7:14) – and the inclusion of some lesser climbs in the South East especially. Back in 2010 my two penneth worth was about the road between Grinton and Askrigg…

Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire - A Road Cyclist's Guide Simon Warren review

Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire – A Road Cyclist’s Guide, by Simon Warren

Simon Warren describes a ride towards Askrigg (# 46 Oxnop Scar) that I haven’t done, but would like to. According to Warren this climb has a height gain of 243 metres. The Harkerside road from Grinton goes from about 186 metres to 541 at its peak. Even if you start counting at Low Witta (about 220 metres) the climb to the top, and the cattle grid shown below, is well over 300 metres of height gained, with more false summits than I can remember, and no fewer than seven Ordnance Survey chevrons pointing at the wearying cyclist. The chap in the B&B in Askrigg told me that drivers’ Sat Nav systems sometimes send them along this narrow road. I wouldn’t fancy driving it, but how long will we have to wait before 100 More Greatest Cycling Climbs I wonder…?

Well I got the follow-up title wrong (the sequel was to be ‘Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs‘) and the climb didn’t make the cut, but that oversight is remedied in ‘Cycling Climbs of Yorkshire: A Road Cyclist’s Guide‘, the latest publication in this popular series.

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Cycling Climbs: Cowlam from Driffield

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…

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