Whiteleaf (SW #23)
Steepest Gradient (%)
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This 1.4 km climb is entirely on Peters Lane, Monks Risborough.
Number 23 on the 100 Greatest Road Bike Climbs in Britain begins in Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire County. Look for the Whiteleaf Cross when you are in town (we missed it at the top of the climb).
The Whiteleaf Cross
Photo - The Chiltern Traveller
The Whiteleaf climb on Peters Lane is brief at 1.4 km (about 0.8 miles) but has an average grade approaching 10%. The two-lane road is in very good condition and there is minimal traffic along the way (though Cycling Uphill reminds us that there is a school at the bottom of the road, so schooltime traffic can make it busy at times). The first half of the climb is through a rural neighborhood, which transitions into forest and then finally open fields at the top. You access the grassy hilltop above the cross from the hiking trail on the left at km 1.3.
Be thankful this ride is short, because it’s one of the hardest in the Oxfordshire/Chilterns area. Because of it’s close proximity to Oxford (approximately 20 miles) many use it as a training climb for the steep hills seen in the north (Cycling Uphill). The climb starts out at a doable 4% grade, but only gets tougher as you go. The grade increases to about 10% in the first 500m, eases up a bit, and then rockets upwards to 20% gradients before finally calming a bit to 8% (Road Cycling UK).
This climb is in the northeastern section of Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of a chalk escarpment formed between 65 and 95 million years ago. Enclosed fields account for approximately 66% of the AONB area, followed by 21% being wooded area, making this one of the most heavily wooded areas in England (Wikipedia -- Chiltern Hills AONB).
Steepest ½ kilometer begins at 600 meters (12.5%).
Whiteleaf Hill was consistently a highlight of one of Britain’s greatest cycling races, the now defunct Archer Grand Prix which ran annually for over 50 years, beginning in 1956 and ending in 2007. The 53rd ride was scheduled for spring of 2008 but was cancelled because of issues with policing. Since then, other attempts to re-start this classic race have failed due to sponsorship problems. The future of the Archer Grand Prix continues to remain uncertain (Archer Grand Prix). The route consistently included the roads of the Chiltern Hills, and most recently was split into a large and small circuit; the larger circut was comprised of Whiteleaf Hill along with the Hughenden Valley.
Trail to Whiteleaf Cross at km 1.3.