Ten of the best cycling climbs in Surrey

Want to take on the best climbs Surrey has to offer? Here are ten of the toughest for starters

Since the London 2012 Olympic Games, the Surrey countryside has become a must-ride area for cyclists all over the country thanks to its hosting of the Olympic Road Race, and latterly the RideLondon-Surrey Classic road race – which from next year boasts UCI WorldTour status.

Certainly popularity has spiked since then, and it’s a haven for weekend warriors using the area south of the capital to get away from everyday city life. As a result, it’s become one of the prime areas to visit in Britain for the road cyclist.

Naturally, you’ll want to test yourself against the best and arguably toughest climbs the county – so here are ten to get you started.

Surrey has established itself as one of the most popular parts of the country for cycling since the London 2012 Olympic Games (Pic: RideLondon)

Bug Hill

Bug Hill is a relatively easy climb to get to as it’s well inside the M25 – perfect if you want a tough hill rep session and you live in south London.

The climb itself takes the form of an ‘S’ bend on the map, allowing you to lean into the corners as you power it up the rise. At 0.9km, it continues at a steady grade of seven percent, before tilting at the top up to 13 per cent.

The climb ends as you enter the town of Warlingham: take a left down Westhall Road, then the first left at the roundabout at the bottom and the road brings you back to the base of Bug Hill, making a very simple yet challenging hill rep session easily attainable.

Vital Statistics

Distance: 0.9km
Average gradient: Seven per cent
Steepest gradient: 13 per cent

Chalkpit Lane

Chalkpit Lane rolls up the ridge that characterizes Botley Hill, and is a serious tester for all-comers. At little more than one kilometre in length, this is no short maximal blast of a climb but instead takes a considered approach to get to the top in the fastest time.

Chalkpit Lane approaches a one-in-four gradient towards the summit (pic: David Howard, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Starting just outside Oxted, the climb steadily rises up from a false flat to a close-to one in four gradient. You’ll need to save something, though, because the alp-like hairpin bend at two thirds of the way up does nothing to ease the pain.

The final 500m from that bend continues to bite at 15 per cent practically all the way to the top – but it’s an apt commentary of this climb that 15 per cent can be described as an ‘easing off’ of the tough gradient.

Vital Statistics

Distance: 1.1km
Average gradient: 11 per cent
Steepest gradient: 23 per cent

Box Hill

Box Hill is arguably the most famous of all the climbs in Surrey – it’s where much of the action of the 2012 Olympic road race took place, and is a feature of the RideLondon-Surrey Classic. It’s a perfect place to test yourself against the pros who record their ascents on the climb – step forward current pros Ian Bibby and Ashleigh Moolman Pasio, who hold the Strava KOM and QOM titles respectively.

Geraint Thomas leads the way up Box Hill at the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey Classic (pic: Richard Washbrooke/Silverhub for RideLondon)

At 2.3km in length, it’s long enough to settle into a rhythm, and although the gradients aren’t as steep as some (maxing out at 12 per cent and averaging five), that only serves to allow you to truly enjoy the climb – and even take the time to read the road graffiti left over from each year’s RideLondon, or sample the southwards view of the Surrey countryside.

The road up, aptly named ‘Zigzag Road’, switches back three times on the way up, giving the climb a distinctly Alpine feel. The best bit about them is they ease off on the turns as well, which allows you to accelerate and slingshot out of each one as you chase your best time. Once at the top, you can enjoy a coffee and cake as reward at the National Trust cafe, and a selfie at the Salomons Memorial viewpoint.

Vital Statistics

Distance: 2.3km
Average gradient: Five per cent
Steepest gradient: 12 per cent

Leith Hill

Another climb on the RideLondon route is Leith Hill, and it’s arguably tougher than the more northerly Box Hill. Once more, you’ve got some tough pro times to contend with on Strava if you want to take the KOM or QOM.

Nevertheless, it’s worth taking the challenge on, because it can be a real stinger. The bottom of the climb is a gradual two percent false flat, surreptitiously sapping your legs of energy, before pitching up to nine per cent. That gradient refuses to ease off, practically all the way to the top – in fact, it reaches 13 per cent in one spot.

That represents a serious challenge, especially as the climb doesn’t feature much in the way of turns to break up the challenge. Perhaps then, the best way to attack it is to stick it into the big ring and sprint to the top. Who knows, maybe you can challenge the pros who have gone before!

Vital Statistics

Distance: 2km
Average gradient: Six per cent
Steepest gradient: 13 per cent

Crocknorth Road

Crocknorth Road is relatively short and sharp, and will test even the strongest riders, thanks to it’s vicious pitch, reaching a peak of 16 per cent, and almost immediately hitting 10 per cent within the first 200m. That means if you have designs on using the speed you build up on the approach to the foot of the climb, you can forget it.

Crocknorth Road has been used by the Tour of Britain (pic – sarflondondunc, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Before long, you’ll be pounding out of the saddle – Contador-style – as you aim to reach the slight easing at the top before your power gives out. It’s not very macho, but we recommend slotting down into the small ring before hitting the climb – the energy you save at the bottom will pay dividends as others struggle with grinding gears further up.

Keep up your effort all the way until the railway bridge at the top, and only then will it start to ease off – giving your legs a very well-deserved rest from the super tough pitch below.

Vital Statistics

Distance: 0.8km
Average gradient: Nine per cent
Steepest gradient: 16 per cent

White Lane

White Lane is one of the hardest challenges Surrey has to offer – which is quite a statement when you consider it’s only 500m long. It seems we’re not the only ones who think so – it’s home to the Bec CC Hill Climb.

Right from the bottom, at a side road off the North Downs Way (Titsey Hill), you’re greeted with ten per cent gradients, and that’s only the beginning. It steadily gets tougher and tougher, with a final pitch that hits almost one in three. It’s a pure hill climb challenge, made all the harder by the fact that you can’t carry any momentum into it, as it’s a hill that feeds it too.

At the top, on Clarks Lane, you’ll be gasping for breath as your legs burn. At least you’ll be able to turn around and see down into the valley as a reward for your effort.

If one in three sounds a little tough, though, don’t worry – the similarly-named White Hill Lane (  is a few miles further east along the ridge, and spreads the effort over 0.9km. Be sure to pace yourself on this one, though, as it’ll likely bite if you attack full gas from the bottom, unlike White Lane, which you can afford to go into the red on.

Vital Statistics

Distance: 0.5km
Average gradient: 13 per cent
Steepest gradient: 30 per cent

Coldharbour Lane

Here’s a really tough climb, and not just because of the 1.8km length or peak gradient at 19 per cent. The real challenge of Coldharbour Lane (also known as Boar Hill), is that it doesn’t allow you to gather a rhythm. For first-timers, the terrain is totally unpredictable, pitching and easing all the way to the top.

The unpredictable terrain on Coldharbour Lane makes it a tough challenge (pic – Tejvan Pettinger, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Veterans of the climb will tell you that the three separate digs mean the average over the whole climb of seven per cent will lull you into a false sense of security – don’t be fooled. Each of the first two rises pitches up to 19 per cent, after which there’s a slight false downhill for 400m before it rises one final time to 16 per cent.

It’ll be time to suck in as much air as you can to power you up that final rise, and dare we say it, a little extra momentum too. If you then follow Abinger Road down through the town of Coldharbour, you can follow the road round the base of Leith Hill, leading you onto the climb of the same name – you know you want to.

Vital Statistics

Distance: 1.8km
Average gradient: Seven per cent
Steepest gradient: 19 per cent

Combe Lane

Combe Lane has an easy start, but it’s a climb that hides a sting in its tail that will punish the unwary, and hurt even experienced climbers.

At the bottom for the first 400m, the gradient doesn’t get any tougher than four per cent, but then as the road banks right it gets a little tougher, hitting around 11 per cent.

That sounds more like it, but as the climb bends around to the right it eases off, even tipping into a slight dip. It’s the perfect masquerade for a climb as you approach the left-hand switchback.

Just before you arrive at the bend, the road tips up to 14 per cent, which is a real kick in the teeth if you’ve excitedly and optimistically ridden full gas up the easier slopes below. Continue right at the top to carry on along Combe Lane, thereby finishing the segment, and potentially regretting your earlier impulses.

Vital Statistics

Distance: 1.5km
Average gradient: Six per cent
Steepest gradient: 14 per cent

White Downs

White Downs is another climb that bites in its second half, thanks to a false flat of a run up before hitting the corkscrew at the base of the steep rise.

White Downs is another Dorking climb with a sting in the tail (pic – sarflondondunc, via Flickr Creative Commons)

The initial rise and flat that follows for the first 1.2km encourages you to time trial your way along to the base of the rise – because you’ll need to if you want a quick time on the segment. That’ll put you into oxygen debt, then the real fun begins.

After the corkscrew, you’re faced with stinging grades of up to 20 per cent all the way to the top over the remaining 700m. In that space, you’ll gain 90m of elevation, and probably a case of severe jelly legs if you don’t take advantage of the sudden arrival of the flat as you head towards Dogkennel Green to spin out.

Vital Statistics

Distance: 1.9km
Average gradient: Six per cent
Steepest gradient: 20 per cent

Barhatch Lane

We may have saved the best until last here. Or should that be worst? Barhatch Lane is considered to be one of the toughest climbs in Surrey – if not the toughest.

Not only is it long (for this part of the world, anyway) at 2.5km, but it’s brutally steep, too, pitching up to 21 per cent. Things may start steadily, with the gradient only hitting five per cent or so, but don’t be fooled, things are about to get seriously tough.

There’s a brief downhill section after 800m, but enjoy it while it lasts, as from here on in Barhatch Lane is steep all the way to the top, and almost dead straight. You’ll need to dig in for more than a kilometre, with the gradient rarely dipping below double figures before cresting at the summit. Save something for the last section, as this is where the road is at its steepest.

If you ‘enjoy’ this one, then you’ll also like its sibling, finishing at the same point, coming from Rowly in the west. Known as Winterfold or ‘Col des Fireflies’ (, the road meanders up for an even longer 3.6km, gathering 177m of elevation over a five per cent average gradient. Two for the price of one!

Vital Statistics

Distance: 2.5km
Average gradient: Six per cent
Steepest gradient: 21 per cent

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