Climbing Crowcombe Combe, Quantock Hills, Somerset, England
Start of climb: Church of The Holy Ghost
This is a very difficult climb, with an average grade of 15% over 1.3 kilometers (0.8 miles), there is really no place to recover, and the hardest pitch is towards the end at a whopping 19.6% average grade for the last 460 meters -- ouch!
Information board at the beginning of the climb.
No Heavy Goods Vehicles on this one.
If you have trouble with math . . .
. . . no worries . . .
That’s when you know you're on a steep road!
Summary from PJAMM’s Charlie Thackeray, Ongar, Essex, UK:
It’s a beautiful part of the western side of the Quantocks - a designated area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB). Crowcombe looks west to the Brendon Hills which then lead into Exmoor, a National Park. The 8/10 score given by Simon Warren’s book shouldn’t lull you into a false sense of security - 25% grades are tough and there isn’t much respite along the way. Fortunately it’s all over in 0.8 miles so time in the red zone is minimal (well, maybe!). The fact that there is an escape lane near the foot of the climb tells you that this is a steep climb. Be prepared for your front wheel to be lifting and your heart to be beating. Worth the trip!
Surrounded by dense forest much of the climb.
Steepest ½ kilometer begins at km 700m (18.7%).
A true climber’s dream! With plenty of parking at the start, it is straight up to the summit of Quantock Hills. The climb has 25% gradients per Simon Warren’s description in his book 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, A Road Cyclists Guide to Britain’s Hills (Simon Warren 2010, p. 19).
Climb begins is in the Quantock Hills Area of Natural Beauty (AONB):
“The Quantock Hills is a range of hills west of Bridgwater in Somerset, England. The Quantock Hills were England's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, being designated in 1956, and consist of large amounts of heathland, oak woodlands, ancient parklands and agricultural land.
Natural England have designated the Quantock Hills as national character area 144. They are entirely surrounded by NCA 146: the Vale of Taunton and Quantock Fringes.
The hills run from the Vale of Taunton Deane in the south, for about 15 miles (24 km) to the north-west, ending at Kilve and West Quantoxhead on the coast of the Bristol Channel. They form the western border of Sedgemoor and the Somerset Levels. From the top of the hills on a clear day, it is possible to see Glastonbury Tor and the Mendips to the east, Wales as far as the Gower Peninsula to the north, the Brendon Hills and Exmoor to the west, and the Blackdown Hills to the south. The highest point on the Quantocks is Wills Neck, at 1,261 feet (384 m). Soil types and weather combine to support the hills' plants and animals. In 1970 an area of 6,194.5 acres (2,506.8 ha) was designated as a Biological Site of Special Scientific Interest.
Archaeological landscape features include Bronze Age round barrows, extensive ancient field systems and Iron Age hill forts. Evidence from Roman times includes silver coins discovered in West Bagborough. The hills are now a peaceful area popular with walkers, mountain bikers, horse riders and tourists. They explore paths such as the Coleridge Way (the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge lived in Nether Stowey from 1797 to 1799) or visit places of interest in the surrounding villages” (Quantock Hills).
Church of the Holy Ghost, Crowcombe, is a tourist spot right at start of the climb:
“The Church of the Holy Ghost in Crowcombe, Somerset, England has a tower dating from the 14th century with the rest of the building being dated at the 15th century. It has been designated by Historic England as a Grade I listed building.
There was a previous church on the site, possible dating from the Saxon era. The north chapel is known as the Carew Chapel and was used by the lords of the manor who lived in the nearby Crowcombe Court.
In 1724 the spire was damaged by a lightning strike. The top section of the spire was removed and is now planted in the churchyard and stone from the spire was used in the flooring of the church. Inside the church carved bench-ends, dating from 1534, depict such pagan subjects as the Green Man and the legend of the men of Crowcombe fighting a two-headed dragon.
In the churchyard is a medieval cross. The octagonal 2.8 metres (9 ft 2 in) high shaft sits on a base of three steps. It has been scheduled as an ancient monument.
The parish is part of the Quantock Towers benefice within the Quantock deanery.
Opposite the church is the Church House and Pound which was built around 1515 for parish functions. It is a Grade II* listed building and was refurbished in 2007” (Church of the Holy Ghost).
Photo by Mike Searle.