Ten of the best cycling climbs in Yorkshire

Ensure your cycling pilgrimage to the white rose county is littered with these thigh-burning climbs

Yorkshire is famed for its beauty and, since hosting the Grand Depart of the 2014 Tour de France, has become a cycling hub in the UK too – a status which is only likely to increase following news the 2019 UCI Road World Championships will also be held in the white rose county.

The owners of the Tour de France, the ASO, were so impressed by the area and its potential to bring great bike racing to the public they took ownership of the Tour de Yorkshire, a race that allows fans and cyclists to relive and create new memories as a legacy of that 2014 showpiece event.

Fans packed the roadside when the Tour de France came to Yorkshire, and the white rose county has been a cycling mecca since (pic: SWpix/Welcome to Yorkshire)

Naturally, you want a go as well – not only to test yourself against the best Strava times set by the pros, but to visit one of the most picturesque areas the UK has to offer. Here’s our pick of the best and some of the hardest climbs in Yorkshire.

And if you want to see more of the county’s finest roads and spectacular scenery, don’t forget to check out our Best of British ride through the Yorkshire Dales.

Norwood Edge

The climb of Norwood Edge is another challenging ascent in the Yorkshire Dales, with the toughest section situated at the bottom of the climb. You’ll reach gradients of 16 per cent at the start, next to Lindley Reservoir, before the road eases off slightly all the way to the top.

We do mean ‘slightly’, however. The gradient doesn’t dip below eight per cent the whole way up the climb on the B6451, which means if you go full gas from the beginning to get yourself over the tough steep section, you might not be able to recover on your way to the top.

This means Norwood Edge has a reputation for putting all-comers into the hurt locker, and keeping them there until they reach the summit. This one is definitely harder than it looks.

Vital statistics

Distance: 1.7km
Average gradient: nine per cent
Steepest gradient: 16 per cent

Buttertubs Pass (north and south)

Buttertubs is a pass that you definitely want to have on your checklist. The Tour crested the pass as part of the first stage in the 2014 edition (led over by none other than Jens Voigt), and it’s an enticing climb and descent, whichever way you attack it.

The northerly ascent is the shorter of the two, ramping steadily at around 11 per cent before wiggling up to 17 per cent around two thirds of the way up. Then, you ride astride the mountainside of Great Shunner Fell, with the gradient easing off to three per cent for the final 400m.

Buttertubs Pass featured on stage one of the 2014 Tour de France and is a must-ride climb (Pic: Simon Wilkinson/

The southerly ascent from the town of Hawes is arguably the tougher of the two, and has some serious WorldTour talent dominating the Strava leaderboard (no awards for guessing that this was the way the Tour attacked the pass). At 3.8km in length and an average grade of seven per cent, the climb is a relentless rolling affair, pitching up to 18 per cent before easing off to single figures repeatedly.

– Best of British: Yorkshire Dales – 

That means a rhythm is hard to come by – but thankfully the gradient eases to a steady eight per cent for the final kilometre, offering some vestige of hope.

Vital statistics

Distance: 2.2km
Average gradient: nine per cent
Steepest gradient: 17 per cent

Distance: 3.8km
Average gradient: seven per cent
Steepest gradient: 18 per cent

Greets Moss

Like Langcliffe Scar, Greets Moss is another leg burner thanks to its bottom-loaded profile.

From just south of the village of Reeth, you’ll start with gradients upwards of ten per cent, peaking at 13, before the road dips to a manageable five per cent. Make sure you take the right turn in Grinton for this one.

Greets Moss may appeal to most is in its relative steadiness from bottom to top. While the gradient does alter, it changes steadily, allowing you to spin up in a rhythm of your choosing.

As a result, it’s a great climb to get you acquainted with the moors before you give some of the tougher, undulating rises a go.

Vital statistics

Distance: 4.0km
Average gradient: seven per cent
Steepest gradient: 14 per cent

The Stang

The Stang, a climb with a macho name if ever there was one, rises up onto the northern edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.

It lives up to its moniker too, but not immediately. The bottom of the 5.1km segment is deceptively easy as it generally doesn’t go above six percent for the first three kilometres; there’s even a short downhill section at the two kilometre mark followed by a false flat for a few hundred metres.

But then it really kicks, checking to make sure that you’ve taken the opportunity to recover, because you’ll be faced with a wall that hits 19 per cent for the final 1500 metres.

If you were tempted to get a fast first section under your belt in search of a quick time, we applaud you, because you’re going to be suffering a lot before this one finally eases off on top of the moor.

Vital statistics

Distance: 5.1km
Average gradient: five per cent
Steepest gradient: 19 per cent

Langcliffe Scar

Langcliffe Scar could very well be one of those ascents that’ll live up to its name, scarring you with memories of severe lactate burning. Starting at the village of Langcliffe, you rise up with pitches of up to twenty per cent on the narrow-type roads that characterise the moorland – plenty to put you into difficulty.

Langcliffe Scar is a thigh-numbing ascent, which kicks up right from the start (pic: Tejvan Pettinger, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Then the road entices you to attack. Inspired by stunning views across the countryside, it eases off to what amounts to a false flat in its second half, encouraging you to accelerate and maintain your hard-earned speed to attain a quick segment time.

Of course, the downside is the deep burn you’re going to feel for the entirety of this 2km climb – but we never said this was going to be easy.

Vital statistics

Distance: 2.0km
Average gradient: eight per cent
Steepest gradient: 20 per cent

Oxnop Scar

There’s no easy way to put this: Oxnop Scar is going to test even the strongest riders. It’s long (for Britain) at four kilometres in length and is unrelenting from bottom to top.

We say this, although technically it does ease after the initial 25 per cent pitch (yes, that’s one in four) over the first 500m, but then it pitches and rolls its way to the summit; it takes away your freshness at the bottom, then beats the rest of your energy out of you all the way to the summit over its six per cent average.

It’s a crooked road too, weaving its way up to the top between two hills, and includes a couple of hairpins that can help act as checkpoints.

Remember to maximise the width of your side of the road to ease the pitches at this point, and accelerate out to take as much speed into the next section as you can.

Vital statistics

Distance: 4.0km
Average gradient: six per cent
Steepest gradient: 25 per cent

Jenkin Road

Jenkin Road has gained something of a folkloric reputation in recent times – largely thanks to its featuring in stage two of the 2014 Tour de France. It’s safe to say, the pros certainly noticed it was there.

While the headlines point to the severe gradient from bottom to top, the real killer is the fact that you can’t take any momentum onto the climb. You either turn off the B6082, or stop to cross over it at the bottom.

Jenkin Road was the final climb of stage two of the 2014 Tour de France (Pic: Marc, via Flickr Creative Commons)

That means all the power you generate for the length of the climb is solely attributed to the climb – no run ups!

At 800 metres in length, this is actually the shortest ascent in our top picks, and the only one to be situated outside the Yorkshire Dales National Park – in between Sheffield and Rotherham, on the Sheffield side of the M1.

This means for city riders it’s potentially a great place to do some hill reps – if you like your hill reps to be particularly gruesome.

Vital statistics

Distance: 0.8km
Average gradient: 11 per cent
Steepest gradient: 25 per cent

White Moss

White Moss (otherwise known as Deepdale), is a steep climb you can really get your teeth stuck into. While it rolls a little at the very beginning, switching between 15 percent and even a small downhill section, for the majority of this rise you’re going to be dealing with gradients of more than ten per cent.

It regularly hits the high teens and even 20 per cent, but the one saving grace is that it’s relatively consistent the whole way to the top – if you can get a friend or two to go ahead and open and close the two gates on the climb for you.

You know you’re about to hit the meat of this climb as you round the left hand hairpin, drop slightly, then eye up the rest of the ascent.

Let us assure you, there’s no rest all the way to the summit, so we’re hoping you took the opportunity to shake out your thighs during that small respite after the turn – counter to usual methods of riding out of the tight bend.

If you’re on your own, this climb will burn not least for the stops you’ll have to make to open those pesky gates.

Vital statistics

Distance: 2.1km
Average gradient: ten per cent
Steepest gradient: 20 per cent

Rosedale Chimney

Are you one of those cyclists that like to search out the very steepest gradients? If so, the Rosedale Chimney is the climb for you, with a toughest incline of 30 per cent.

We’re not joking – it’s one of the steepest ascents in the UK that you’re likely to come across.

The Rosedale Chimney is as easy on the eye as it is brutal on the legs (Pic: Mike Dobson, via Flickr Creative Commons)

It played host to the 1987 National Hill Climb Championship, which should serve as notice of its severity and prestige. As with many hill climb courses, there are corners to negotiate as you wind up the hill side, so try to arc round the outside to ease off the gradient as much as you can.

You’ll only be able to ease the course so much, because the average gradient you’re going to be dealing with is 14 per cent – one of the steepest of our selection here. This means that there’s only one way to approach this beast: attack!

Vital statistics

Distance: 1.3km
Average gradient: 14 per cent
Steepest gradient: 30 per cent

Caper Hill

Caper Hill, with the exception of a slight right-left bend in the road just before halfway, is practically a straight blast from bottom to top, with nothing in the way of character to take your mind of the stinging that’s likely to be occurring in your legs.

Averaging at 14 per cent, just like the Chimney, this isn’t a climb for the faint of heart – or the mind. Because you can see just how featureless the road is, it takes mental strength to power your way up this 1.2km climb. Our best advice? Don’t look; fix your eyes on the road in front of you until it eases off, simple as that.

On the way you’ll encounter grades in the region of one in four, which for most will probably sap you of your sense of humour, too. “Holy chammy, Batman, where’re my legs?!”

Vital statistics

Distance: 1.2km
Average gradient: 14 per cent
Steepest gradient: 25 per cent

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