Devil's Staircase (SW #93) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

0.7 mi
463 ft
12.5 %



Cycling the Devil's staircase - one of the steepest climbs in Wales and the UK. Simon Warren writes of this climb, coming in at #93 on his Greatest Cycling Climbs of Britain list, “deep in the Welsh wilderness, far from civilization, lies a hill that needs little introduction. There seems little reason to build a road out here, never mind one this steep. But here it is: The Devil’s Staircase” (100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, A Road Cyclists Guide to Britain’s Hills, Simon Warren, 2010, pp. 158-159).
Steep!  The 1.1 kilometer of this climb averages 12.5%.  The first 500 meters average 17%. 

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  One lane fully paved and in good condition but beware debris and moss on the descent. 

Traffic:  Minimal.

Parking:  Just before the start of the climb - MapStreet View.
Provisions:  This is a remote climb - there are no provisions within many kilometers of this ride. 
Before heading out on any cycling adventure check out our Things to Bring on a Cycling Trip and use our interactive check list to ensure you don't forget anything.
See other routes in the area of this climb via the Routes in Area button on this page. 



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Cycling Devil's Staircase, Wales - view from above of roadway meandering through valley and hillsides lined in dense evergreen trees, Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs #93 logo in corner

Cycling Devil’s Staircase, Wales.

View back to climb start from 300 meters.

This is an extremely steep climb for the first 650 meters, averaging 16% grade.  The initial pitch is followed by 300 meters at 10%, with the final segment being the easiest at 5% for 200 meters.  

Cycling Devil's Staircase, Wales - PJAMM Cycling jersey draped on bike parked on edge of narrow one-lane roadway, views of a creek, the roadside winding through hillsides and valley, map of the area

Simon Warren puts Devil’s Staircase at #93 of his 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs of Great Britain.  He writes of this climb, “Deep in the Welsh wilderness, far from civilization, lies a hill that needs little introduction.  There seems little reason to build a road out here, never mind one this steep.  But here it is: The Devil’s Staircase”  (100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, A Road Cyclists Guide to Britain’s Hills, Simon Warren, 2010, pp. 158-159).

Cycling Devil's Staircase, Wales - road sign warning of 25% grade, "keep in low gear"

Perhaps on the inside of the hairpins, otherwise 20% max grade.

Cycling Devil's Staircase, Wales - extremely narrow, wet, old, one-lane road closely bordered with green hillside on one side and thick trees on the other

1.1 km on a very narrow road.

Cycling Devil's Staircase, Wales - aerial view of road winding along hillside covered in very dense evergreen tree forestry on both sides as far as the eye can see

We are bordered by thick forest much of the climb.

This climb is through the thickest forest of any other of Britain’s 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs.

Cycling Devil's Staircase, Wales - informational sign from the National Nature Reserve including a map of the area and information on "Nature at its Best"

Cycling Devil's Staircase, Wales - view from above of sets of two very sharp hairpin turns in the road winding up the hillside, dense forestry of evergreen trees along top and bottom of hillside 

Two hairpins at 220 meters:THE famous Devil’s Staircase.

Cycling Devil's Staircase, Wales - bike parked against wire fence in grass along one-lane roadway, PJAMM Cycling jersey draped over bike

End of the line: 1.1 km at 12.6% average grade.


Steepest ½ kilometer begins at 100m (17%)

Article in Le Bidon by Nick Livermore (April 9, 2015):

“There are a few words that come to mind when talking about The Devil’s Staircase; none of which are appropriate to repeat in present company.

It is a climb famous among cyclists across the UK, often voted as one of the best and most difficult. Stories of people getting off to push outnumber those that have been successful.

An average of 12% (getting up to above 25%), climbing nearly 500ft over the course of 0.7 miles, you’ll need your easiest granny gears and very best mountain legs to get safely to the summit.

Perhaps the most difficult stretch I’ve ever ridden, the mountain road connecting Beulah and Tregaron in West Wales is not to be trifled with. Even if you take The Devil’s Staircase out of the equation, the other climbs on the road provide a hefty challenge.

In the direction of Tregaron, there are two climbs of almost comparable difficulty to the Devil’s Staircase, in addition to plenty of other ascents besides.

But with difficult climbing comes exhilarating descents. And as each pedal stroke guides you further along your paths, you’ll realise that all the pain is worth it for the landscapes on offer.

This is one beautiful road, encompassing the impressive spectacle of bare mountains and the rock formations they have to offer, and areas of new and old forest, almost alpine in feel.

The beginning of the road is actually fairly straightforward, with stunning vistas the reward for shallow ascents. But before long you come across two low lying bridges. Across the other side? A gradient sign. Your day is about to get more difficult.”  

Dangerous Roads writes:

“Abergwesyn Road is a narrow strip of worn tarmac crossing the Cambrian Mountains, in Wales. It’s an old drover's track stretching for about 20 miles between the small hamlet of Abergwesyn and the town of Tregar. The Devil’s Staircase is so called with good reason – a short but hellishly steep ascent in Powys, south Wales.

The road still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. Traversing a ledge in the hillside, the road climbs from Abergwesyn, soon becoming incredibly steep and windy - a 1 in 4 gradient over an seemingly endless series of hairpin bends, the aptly named Devil's Staircase - through thick forests. The road is extremely narrow and twisty!
It is narrow, really twisty and very scenic. The road climbs up the Abergwesyn Pass – up the perilous Devil’s Staircase and through dense conifer forests to miles of wide, desolate valleys where sheep graze unhurriedly.  Devil’s Staircase is a set of bends with some 25 per cent gradients thrown in to keep interest, before a fairly level section across some empty hillside and forest sections, where another steep descent reveals the other side of the hill.”  

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