The Tumble (SW #97) Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling

3.1
FIETS
3.1 mi
DISTANCE
1,274 ft
GAINED
7.9 %
AVG. GRADE

FULL CLIMB STATS

INTRO

The Tumble is the second most difficult climb in Wales after Bwlch y Groes, and one of our favorite Welsh climbs. The climb is a good distance at nearly five kilometers and averages just over 8% average grade. There is a 2.5 kilometer 10.5% segment beginning 600 meters from the start that puts us to the test right away. 
7.8% grade for 4.9 kilometers with 0 descent.  The crux of the climb is 2.7 km beginning at 600 meters that averages 10%.  30% of the climb is at 10-15% grade.  The steepest 500 meters is 12%.

See more details and tools regarding this climb's grade via the “Profile Tool” button.
Roadway:  Two lane highway with center stripe and no shoulder for most of the climb.

Traffic:  Moderate.

Parking:  In the grass on the side of the road 44246 at the road to overpass the freeway 210 meters from climb start - MapStreet View (Directions), or drive across the overpass to the other side of A465 to park (Google Map) 350 meters from the start. 
Provisions:  None on the route but there are many options in Abergavenny, four kilometers northeast of the climb start.  
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.
Use the “Routes in Area” button on the menu bar above to see other bike climbs in this area.  If cycling in this area you can choose from several different lodging options.

 See our 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Britain for other Wales climbs included in Simon Warren's book on cycling hills in the UK.  

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CLIMB SUMMARY

two PJAMM Cyclists stand with bikes next to biking road sign and gives thumbs up

Cycling The Tumble, Wales

Ride 3.1 miles gaining 1,250’ at 7.8% average grade.

The Tumble is the seventh most difficult climb in Wales via the Fiets Index.  The climb is a good distance at nearly five kilometers, and averages just over an 8% average grade.  There is a 2.5 kilometer 10.5% segment beginning 600 meters from the start that puts us to the test right away.  

photo collage - signs along the roadway including 10% grade, The Tumble Summit, and Blaenavon World Heritage Site

This climb has been included in many British cycling events, which is obvious from the start, with a “Start of Climb” sign designating the beginning of the 2018 Iron Mountain Sportif, and also a cycling summit sign at the climb’s finish.

Cycling The Tumble, Wales - sign for Iron Mountain Sportif 2018, Start of Climb

No question where climb begins.

The Tumble was the venue for the 2021 Welsh CA Hill Climb Championship won by Dan Evans on the men's side and Rebecca Richardson on the women’s.  The Tumble has also been included in the Tour of Britain.

photo collage shows road signs along the way for Blaenavon, Govilon, and Abergavenny

Climb begins by riding up B4246 towards Blaenavon.

feeding horses

Making friends at the start of the climb 😊

World Heritage Site signs - Blaenavon, Big Pit

World Heritage site sign at ~ 100 yards of the climb.

Big Pit is a coal mine and one of Britain’s leading mining museums.

“The landscape of Blaenavon, at the upper end of the Avon Llwyd valley in South Wales, provides exceptional testimony to the area’s international importance in iron making and coal mining in the late 18th and the early 19th century. The parallel development of these industries was one of the principal dynamic forces of the Industrial Revolution.

The major preserved sites of Blaenavon Ironworks and Big Pit, together with the outstanding relict landscape of mineral exploitation, manufacturing, transport, and settlement which surrounds them, provide an extraordinarily comprehensive picture of all the crucial elements of the industrialisation process: coal and ore mines, quarries, a primitive railway system and canal, furnaces, workers’ homes, and the social infrastructure of the early industrial community. The area reflects the pre-eminence of South Wales in the production of iron, steel and coal in the 19th century.” Read more at the Unesco World Heritage #984 - Blaenavon Page.

canal boats line the Beacon Canal, Monmouthshire

Monmouthshire and Beacon Canal at 400 meters.

The Tumble climbs up from what seems to be a very upscale neighborhood for a mile or so. Past these nice homes and over a few cattle guards, the climb opens up while the gradients stay relatively mild. Some retired mines are visible to your right as you make your way up to the summit pond. This pond seems to be a popular attraction and you can expect a fair bit of traffic on the road. We parked our car near the base of the climb in a dirt lot where a public trail started, however parking is widely available at the summit of the climb near the pond as well.

photo collage shows PJAMM Cyclists riding in forest and foliage lined roadway on the first third of the climb

Forest and tree coverage for the first third of the climb.

photo collage shows views higher up on last two-thirds of climb, pasturelands below, sheep crossing road

The final two-thirds of the climb offer open views of the countryside.

photo collage shows sheep crossing the road, road sign warning of sheep crossing

Sheep crossing at mile 1.8

We have documented climbs in over 30 countries and have never seen more sheep than in Wales. There are an estimated 10,000,000 sheep in Wales, which equals about one-third of the total number in all of Britain.  However, the population of Britain is 67.22 million, while Wales’ population is 3.1, meaning Wales has less than a twentieth of the human population of Britain.  That’s a lot of sheep!

PJAMM Cyclist makes turn on hairpin turn in roadway

Two hairpins from mile 0.5 to 0.7 averaging 10.1%.

This climb is located in the eastern section of Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales (established 1957, 134,420 hectares/332,160 acres).  This is the third of the three Welsh parks (Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire Coast being the other two).  Brecon Beacons NP covers a 519 square mile area between Llandeilo in the west, to Hay-on-Wye in the northeast, and Pontypool in the southeast.  In February 2013, Brecon Beacons received International Dark Sky Reserve status.  The park contains mostly grassy moorland where its common to see Welsh mountain ponies and mountain sheep grazing, but also includes forestry, valleys, reservoirs, waterfalls, and caves.  Because of the park’s remote location and the harsh weather in its uplands, Brecon Beacons is used as a site for UK Special Forces military training.  You can read more about Brecon Beacons National Park here.

bike parked next to summit sign for The Tumble

That’s a wrap!

3.1 miles at 7.8%.

Simon Warren (100 Greatest Climbs)  writes that The Tumble is “one of the most feared and frequently raced climbs in Wales.  The Tumble offers an excellent challenge to any rider” (100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, pp. 164-165).

photo collage shows views of Keepers Pond

Keepers Pond is just past the finish of this climb.

If you can tolerate the frigid temperatures, you can swim in Keepers Pond.  From the pond there are fantastic views of the valley far below and mountains beyond that.

CyclingUphill.com writes of this climb:

“I was staying in Forest of Dean this weekend, so I thought I’d cycle out to the Tumble – a climb that has featured in many Tour of Britain’s and something I’ve watched quite a few times on the TV.

In theory, it was 25 miles from the Forest of Dean to the base of the Tumble in Govilon, Abergavenny. But, I trusted my instinct of ‘remembering the roads’ from five minutes of studying the map, rather than taking it with me. I once did the National 50 mile TT on the A40 around Raglan. But, that wasn’t much help, and I ended up taking a long detour on an unknown Welsh road to Usk. I kept hoping to cut across to Blaenavon, but didn’t have much luck. At one point, I went a long way up a mountain road to be greeted by a dead end sign – right at the end of the road. 40 miles later I did finally make it to Gavilon, and in between hail showers climbed up the Tumble.

It’s a good climb. The first half is a consistent 10% up a few hairpins, perhaps steeper in parts. As you go out of the trees, the gradient eases off a little and if there’s a tailwind you can pick up a little speed. It’s quite exposed at the top. It was popular with other cyclists, I must have seen a good 20-30 on various parts of the climb. I managed to overtake a couple on the way up. I had forgotten my cycling jacket so was just wearing loose under clothes, and had a camera swinging from thigh to thigh on the way up, which was irritating. I didn’t look the part, but still went up in a respectable time for February, on a winter training bike” (read more).

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