The Hartside climb is a long mild grade along a the fairly busy A686 just north of Melmerby at the western edge of North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The climb averages only 5.3% but is in the Top 10 Longest 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs at 7.7 kilometers. There are excellent views from the top of this climb, including on to Scotland 40 kilometers north.
Yep - busy highway with no bike lane so beware.
Exceptional views from the Summit.
The climb may be one of the steadiest grades on the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs list, never varying more than 2 percentage points throughout the entire climb.
We don’t see this unvarying of a grade often.
There is (was) the Hartside Top Cafe at the Hartside Summit, but as of September, 2018 when we made the climb, it had major fire damage and was closed.
“Bikers and cyclists have shared their memories of an iconic cafe which has burned down after years as a well-deserved pit stop for those heading to the Lake District from the North East.
The Hartside Top Cafe, near Alston, went up in flames on Tuesday. The cafe had cult status with bikers and cyclists, who stopped there to admire stunning views of the Lake District while refuelling on tea, coffee and cake after climbing 1904ft to reach Hartside summit.” Full Article.
Before fire - Photo - Ken Brown
After fire - condition September, 2018 (fire occurred 6 March 2018)
Steepest ½ kilometer begins at 300 meters (6.4%)
The climb begins in Mulmerby (population ~200) located u Cumbria, England about 9 miles east of Penrith:
“Surrounded by beautiful countryside it sits between the North Pennines with its highest point, Cross Fell to the east and the World Heritage Lake District National Park 10 miles to the west. It is relatively quiet because the area is not as popular with tourists as other parts of Cumbria. It has ample facilities to support visitors who choose to travel outside the Lake District National Park which can sometimes become congested in high season. The River Eden is bridged about 4 miles (6.4 km) away at Langwathby, and Long Meg and Her Daughters, the 3,500-year-old stone circle—the second largest in the country—is nearby at Little Salkeld.
For the purposes of local government Melmerby is within the civil parish of Ousby, informally known as Ousby and Melmerby, in the District of Eden with Penrith at its heart.
Melmerby is supposed to have taken its name from the residence of Máel Muire, a presumed Norse-Gael who lived nearby in the 9th century. The most significant historic buildings surviving in the village today are the 13th century church of St John the Baptist and the Grade II Listed Melmerby Hall, begun as a defensive structure in the early 14th century. A petition received by Edward II between 1320 and 1326 reads:
"John le Denum petitions the King that whereas he has a castle in Cumberland called Melmerby Tower, which could be kept by a dozen men at arms, he has kept it until now and has often been assailed by the Scots to their great loss, and John's lands are so devastated there and elsewhere that he can no longer bear the expense. He craves help in the form of wages or otherwise until times change, because all the country around would suffer great loss peril and loss if it were taken through lack of garrison."
The hall, built from the local red sandstone, was extended in the 17th century and again in the 18th century in a Georgian style. The 20-acre (81,000 m2) grounds include an archery lawn, walled vegetable gardens, a Victorian castle folly and wooded areas. Features inside include a priest hole and a large inglenook fireplace.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melmerby,_Cumbria
View west from the top - Photo by Rob Bishop
Simon Warren’s #77 of the Greatest 100 Cycling Climbs in Britain begins in the eastern section of North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:
“The North Pennines was designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in 1988 for its moorland scenery, the product of centuries of farming and lead-mining. At almost 770 square miles (2,000 km2) it is the second largest of the 49 AONBs in the United Kingdom. The landscape of the North Pennines AONB is one of open heather moors between deep dales, upland rivers, hay meadows and stone-built villages, some of which contain the legacies of a mining and industrial past. The area has previously been mined and quarried for minerals such as barytes, coal fluorspar, iron, lead, witherite and zinc.In 2013, a Canadian mining company were allowed to test drill for zinc around Allenheads and Nenthead. They said the region was sitting on a "world-class" deposit of zinc and predicted that a new mine in the area could produce 1,000,000 tonnes (980,000 long tons; 1,100,000 short tons) of zinc ore per year.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Pennines
“Hartside Fell is long steady climb in the north Pennines. It is one of the longest continual climbs in England – rising 400m over 5 miles. It will be used as a summit finish in this years Tour of Britain, stage 5.” https://cyclinguphill.com/hartside-fell/