My first recollection of this deceptively strength sapping climb was actually as a descent. I had ridden with a club to Malton and one of the newer members had wanted to complete his first 100-mile ride. So with a slight detour from the planned route we were able to incorporate the Thixendale Big Skies Bike Ride in to the day’s trip and tick both boxes. I typically approach this climb having passed through Settrington, heading south for a short stretch of the B1248 and popping over the little bridge with its unusually specific 25mph speed limit. Soon after there is a left hand bend and a junction on that corner. The signposted turnoff points to Birdsall, but we want the unsigned road along which a cottage and a utilities building can be glimpsed.
Beyond the buildings the road soon opens up a rather lovely view and a very satisfying sense of remoteness. Whenever I write about this hill I am at pains to point out that cows – and, we’re told, a bull – roam the open-gated fields between the cattle grids at the top and bottom of this climb. (The recent judicious use of a partly worn non-scratch scourer on the underside of my brake calipers is a reminder that the road is far from out of bounds for these roaming bovines.)
I’ve actually never turned around having seen loose cattle, but returning to that junction and following the signs to Birdsall – with the prospect of climbing Birdsall Brow – is a pleasant enough alternative, so it’s not the end of the world. One time on a solo descent, having passed the point of no return, I inadvertently triggered something of a stampede reminiscent of a scene from Jurassic Park, and was relieved to reach the sanctuary provided by rolling over the lower cattle grid. But I digress.
Up until quite recently an added challenge on this admittedly shallow climb was the condition of the badly damaged tarmac, but happily this was resurfaced a few years ago and we are freer to admire the view rather than pick our way through rut and pothole. In fact the entire section of road that ultimately leads to the T junction a mile or so further has been repaired and it’s possible to set up a nice tempo – for me invariably leading to the thrilling descent towards Birsdall – after completing this fairly remote climb.
The first time I cycled Luddith Road, as part of the ‘Big Skies Bike Rides: Thixendale from Malton or Norton on Derwent‘
Barely 500 cyclists on Strava have recorded taking on this quietly testing hill set in lovely scenery. If you’re not yet one of them, and you would like a bit of a challenge as part of a longer ride surrounded by wonderful views, I recommend this climb. Just watch out for the you-know-what.
‘Luddith Rd Climb’ ride segment in Strava
Related post: Thixendale and Sledmere from Pocklington