The Wall of Talla Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

1.1 mi
502 ft
8.7 %



Nestled in a quite corner of Southern Scotland, The Wall of Talla offers a short, steep and scenic introduction to the epic climbs scattered throughout the lush Scottish hills

Visit our Top 10 Most Epic UK and also our Top 10 Most Epic Scottish hill climbs pages for photos, summaries and statistics for their respective top epic hill climbs. 
This climb averages 8.7%. The steepest quarter mile of this climb is 15.4% and steepest continuous mile is 9.4%. A start elevation of 991 feet and finish elevation of 1492 feet, respectively, gives us a total gain of 502 feet. In the 1.09 mile of climbing, there is just 1 foot of total descent.
This narrow road is only wide enough for one car for most of the climb. There are a few pullouts to allow passing. The road should be climbed and descended with caution. Traffic will likely be very mild as the road looks to be mostly used by local farmers and the occasional odd hiker. Pavement quality is decent throughout without a major pothole to speak of. Near our start coordinates there is a small stretch of road with a dirt shoulder wide enough to park on and still allow for traffic to pass. 
The waterfall that our route crosses over near the summit is the only option for water out this way. However, seeing as the climb is just over a mile in length, you're not likely to need any water or fuel anyways. Still, it is worth noting that this is rural country and you're on your own out here. I did not have any cell coverage with my carrier 'EE'
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panoramic view of green hillsides, blue sky, pond in distance

Cycling The Wall of Talla, Scotland

Ride 1.8 kilometers gaining 153 meters at 8.7% average grade.

Before our second cycling trip to the UK, we asked Simon Warren of 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, UK for his choices of most epic and hardest climbs in England, Wales, Scotland, and the UK.  Simon lists The Wall of Talla as the third most epic and eighth hardest road bike climb in Scotland, and the eighth most epic in all the United Kingdom - it’s the Real Deal!

photo collage shows road sign warning of 20% gradient, peaceful green hillsides and country road

This is a quiet, peaceful, and very scenic bike climb.

bike parked against road sign warning of curve in road, large green hillside behind

Climb begins where the road kicks up just before the 90 degree right turn along the Games Hope Burn, just south of the southern end of Talla Reservoir.

photo collage of Talla Reservoir

The Wall of Talla climb begins adjacent to the magnificent Talla Reservoir in the Scottish Borders council area, only 60 kilometers south of Edinburgh.  The Talla Reservoir was opened in 1899 to supply Edinburgh with water. You’ll find a few hiking trails in the surrounding area and one old homestead which looks to still be lived in.

Talla River

The Talla River feeds the Talla Reservoir from the south.

photo collage shows views of Talla River and surrounding green hillsides

If you are fortunate enough to have dry weather, you are likely to run into a few brave tourists in the narrow road that parallels the reservoir. Dry weather is far from a given in this, or any part, of the United Kingdom though. As they say, “one doesn’t travel to Scotland for the weather.” Fortunately, I lucked out weather-wise on the day that I rode The Wall of Talla in early July.

photo collage includes aerial drone view of PJAMM Cyclist riding the Wall of Talla climb

The average grade of 8.7% percent is slightly deceptive as the opening stretch of the climb is a true wall at over 15%. The Talla reservoir will be below you on your left as you climb (assuming you’re not “paper-boying” it) and you’ll have the best views in the house.

aerial drone view shows PJAMM Cyclist crossing over Talla Water

We cross the Talla Water one kilometer up the climb from the start.

The midpoint of the climb is marked by an old stone bridge. Having dealt with the initial wall of the climb, the gradients ease up to the finish point past the bridge. Once across the bridge, the Talla Reservoir will no longer be in view.

aerial drone view shows round stone livestock pen, green pastureland

Pass a stone round livestock pen on your left 200 meters from the start.

The summit point, at an elevation of 1,492 feet, is unmarked. There is a cattle guard and livestock gate which makes for a good summit marker and turnaround point. Take care on this descent as the cars, although infrequent, take up every inch of road.

PJAMM Cycling’s Brad Butterfield, after riding the climb in the July of 2022, said:

The Wall of Talla is tucked away in the remote hills of southern Scotland near a number of small lakes. The scenery here is spectacular and would in many countries be considered a National Park. But this is Scotland and lakes are a dime a dozen, and you’ll likely have the views to enjoy all alone. Parking was easy enough at the base of the climb on a dirt pullout that looks to be used by hikers (there is a nature trail nearby). The climb rises above the lake for the first half, then you’ll cross a bridge that takes you behind the hill and to the summit for the climb. Double digit grades make the climb tough, but the scenery is so breathtaking that you’ll likely not even notice the tough grades. This was my first Scottish climb of my 2022 trip in the UK and really got me excited to explore the rest of the country.

That’s a wrap!!