Ffordd Pen Llech (SW #92) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

Ffordd Pen Llech (SW #92)

United Kingdom

Short but STEEP!

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Climb Summary


Cycling Ffordd Pen Llech, Wales - Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs #92 logo in corner, bike parked in front of Harlech Castle, old stone castle   

Cycling Ffordd Pen Llech, Snowdonia National Park, North Wales

Harlech Castle, very close to the climb.

Cycling Ffordd Pen Llech, Wales - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, aerial drone view of Harlech Castle, segment of very steep, one-lane roadway surrounded by greenery, flag flying outside of white building along roadway

Not much to say about this one other than it is brief and STEEEEEEEPPPPPPPP!!!!!  It was recently crowned the world’s steepest bike climb.  

Cycling Ffordd Pen Llech, Wales - close up view of extreme gradient of roadway, roadway torn up in places from cars bottoming out on it

We’re not in Kansas anymore! Vehicles bottom out on this one.

Cycling Ffordd Pen Llech, Wales - view of a sharp corner along 25% grade segment of one-lane roadway

Ever wonder what 25% looks like?  

This climb is not scenically pleasing (or pleasing in anyway, really, unless you are a masochist!), but it is said to be the steepest road bike climb in the UK (Ffordd Pen Llech;  Dangerous Roads). We tackled this climb in August 2018 and will not dispute the claims!  The first 50 meters are at a quad busting 28%.  Yikes!

Cycling Ffordd Pen Llech, Wales - photo collage, PJAMM Cycling logo in corner, straight segment of narrow, one-lane, extremely steep roadway surrounded by greenery, beginning of climb within town, Harlech Castle on hilltop in distance

Climb’s Start.

An unrelated but great treat associated with this climb is Harlech Castle, which can be accessed pretty easily from the finish.  The castle is a medieval fortification on top of a rock hill 1.5 kilometers from and in sight of the Irish Sea.

Built by Edward I during 1282-1289 (Invasion of Wales) the castle withstands through several wars until falling to Owain Glyndŵr in 1404. Recaptured by English forces in 1409. During the 15th century Wars of the Roses, Harlech was held by the Lancastrians and Yorkist troops until the outbreak of the English Civil War. In 1647 it became the last fortification to surrender to the Parliamentary armies. In the 21st century the ruined castle is managed by Cadw, the Welsh Government's historic environment service, as a tourist attraction.

“UNESCO considers Harlech to be one of "the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe", and it is classed as a World Heritage site.[2] The fortification is built of local stone and concentric in design, featuring a massive gatehouse that probably once provided high-status accommodation for the castle constable and visiting dignitaries. The sea originally came much closer to Harlech than in modern times, and a water-gate and a long flight of steps leads down from the castle to the former shore, which allowed the castle to be resupplied by sea during sieges. In keeping with Edward's other castles in North Wales, the architecture of Harlech has close to links to that found in the County of Savoy during the same period, an influence probably derived from the Savoy origins of the main architect,”  (
Harlech Castle).

Cycling Ffordd Pen Llech, Wales - various views of Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle at the top of the climb.

Warning about descending this climb -- we drove down the climb in our car to find parking and that was a mistake. The narrow road was barely wide enough for our car, and the road is so steep that the brakes overheated and began to slightly fail.  Now that’s one steep segment of tarmac!!!  But, at the bottom to the right there is an elementary school you can park at.

The village of Harlech is at the top of the climb and it is a nice spot to visit and spend a little time having a meal at one of the cafes, along with a visit to the castle.  

This climb is located in the south eastern edge of Snowdonia National Park,

“Snowdonia (Welsh: Eryri) is a mountainous region in north west Wales and a national park of 823 square miles (2,130 km2) in area. It was the first to be designated of the three national parks in Wales, in 1951.  

The English name for the area derives from Snowdon, which is the highest mountain in Wales at 3560 ft (1,085 m). In Welsh, the area is named Eryri. A commonly held belief is that the name is derived from eryr ("eagle"),

(Snowdonia National Park).

Although very short and quite challenging, this is climb and its related activities are a very fun experience.