United Kingdom - Most Epic Bike Climbs

#1
Bealach na Ba (SW #69)
UNITED KINGDOM
#2
Stwlan Dam
UNITED KINGDOM
#3
Bwlch y Groes (SW #91)
UNITED KINGDOM
#4
Winnats Pass (SW #33)
UNITED KINGDOM
#5
The Great Dun Fell (SW #186)
UNITED KINGDOM
#6
Hardknott Pass West (SW #84)
UNITED KINGDOM
#7
Maovally
UNITED KINGDOM
#8
The Wall of Talla
UNITED KINGDOM
#9
The Burway (SW #39)
UNITED KINGDOM
#10
Fleet Moss (SW #50)
UNITED KINGDOM

Climb List: United Kingdom's Most Epic Bike Climbs
(sort by distance, difficulty, elevation and more)

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United Kingdom: England's Hardest and Most Epic Hill Climbs
United Kingdom
23 ROUTES
2 POIs
ROUTE STATS (TOTAL)
44.3
mi
DISTANCE
20,198
ft
ELEV. GAIN
United Kingdom: Hardest and Epic Bike Climbs
United Kingdom
21 ROUTES
0 POIs
ROUTE STATS (TOTAL)
49.2
mi
DISTANCE
23,185
ft
ELEV. GAIN
United Kingdom: Scotland's Hardest and Most Epic Hill Climbs
United Kingdom
24 ROUTES
43 POIs
ROUTE STATS (TOTAL)
357.5
mi
DISTANCE
42,638
ft
ELEV. GAIN
United Kingdom: Wales Hardest and Most Epic Hill Climbs.
United Kingdom
23 ROUTES
17 POIs
ROUTE STATS (TOTAL)
114.3
mi
DISTANCE
24,627
ft
ELEV. GAIN

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FULL SUMMARY

In the summer of 2018 we documented Simon Warren’s 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Great Britain.  We returned in 2022 to document the hardest bike climbs per (a) Fiets index (objective) and (b) Simon Warren’s picks.  Before our 2022 trip, Simon provided us 8 Top 10 lists:  Top 10 Hardest and Top 10 Most Epic for England, Wales, Scotland and the United Kingdom.

SIMON WARREN’S 10TH MOST EPIC UK BIKE CLIMB

FLEET MOSS, ENGLAND

Cycling Fleet Moss

Ride 3.3 miles gaining 1,061’ at 6% average grade (¼ mile at 15.5%).

Fleet Moss is the highest road in Yorkshire and #50 of Simon Warren’s Greatest 100 Climbs in Britain (from the north side). The climb is named after an area of moorland to the right just after cresting the hill coming from the north. This climb is ranked #5 England/#10 UK by Simon Warren.

UK #9 MOST EPIC

THE BURWAY, ENGLAND

Cycling The Burway - photo collage including 20% Grade Road sign within thick hedges, arial view of fork in the road, bicycle leaning against wire fence with PJAMM cycling jersey hanging from bike, three sheep crossing roadway on hillside, National Trust sign for The Long Mynd

Cycling the Burway - UK #9/England #4 Most Epic

Ride 1.9 miles gaining 920’ at 9.3% average grade.

We rode The Burway in 2018 and enjoyed it so much we did it again in 2022.  The views along the climb are of moors and dales with a purplish hue from blankets of heather covering much of the terrain.  This is grazing and farmland and we do encounter livestock along the way (predominately sheep).

UK #8 MOST EPIC

THE WALL OF TALLA, SCOTLAND

panoramic view of green hillsides, blue sky, pond in distance

Cycling The Wall of Talla - Scotland’s #2/UK #8 Most Epic

Ride 1.8 kilometers gaining 153 meters at 8.7% average grade.

photo collage shows road sign warning of 20% gradient, peaceful green hillsides and country road

This is a quiet, peaceful, and very scenic bike climb just south of Edinburgh.  We encounter The “Wall” straight away as we ride up from the grand Talla Reservoir - 300 meters at 15%.

UK #7 MOST EPIC

MAOVALLY, SCOTLAND

Cycling Maovally

Ride 3.2 miles gaining 1,058’ at 6.3% average grade.

In his X-List Simon Warren writes of this wonderful and remote bike climb “There are no words to describe the magnificence of this road, no adequate superlatives nor flowery prose could every come close to doing it justice. . . . A service road for two small power stations, well surfaced, closed to traffic but open to the public and situated in some of the most pristine scenery in all of Scotland, it is all but PERFECT.”

UK #6 MOST EPIC

HARDKNOTT PASS, ENGLAND

Hardknott Pass

Ride 2 miles gaining 1,041’ at 9.9% average grade.

Hardknott Pass is a magnificent bucket list climb for all cyclists, not just British citizens.  Hardknott Pass is ranked a 10/10 by Simon Warren and while that means its difficulty is 10 on a scale of 10, it is also a 10 for Epic and Scenery. This ride is simply an amazing experience - “The king of climbs and arguably the hardest road in the land, the legendary Hardknott Pass is an amazing sliver of tarmac.” (Simon Warren, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, A Road Cyclist’s Guide to Britains Hills, p. 143).

UK #5 MOST EPIC

THE GREAT DUN FELL, ENGLAND

sweeping view of green pastureland and straight stretch of newly paved roadway

Cycling the GREAT Dun Fell, England

Ride 7.5 kilometers gaining 625 meters at 8.4% average grade.

This unique road bike climb is both the second hardest (by Fiets) in the UK and the highest paved road in England.  The climb takes us from 714 meters, to the radar dome 848 meters (2,782’) above sea level in just 7.5 kilometers!  The road ends at an Air Traffic Control facility that services Northern England and Southern Scotland.

Charlie Thackeray (Essex, UK) Everested Dun Fell July 22-23

Read about Charlie’s Everest at Thoughts on Everesting

UK #4 MOST EPIC

WINNATS PASS, ENGLAND

panoramic view of Winnats Pass, green hills with stone outcropping, blue sky

Cycling Winnats Pass, England.

Ride 1.2 miles gaining 672’ at 11% average grade.

Simon Warren writes of this climb, “for sheer drama, nothing matches Winnats Pass, a winding road through a natural cleft, surrounded by towering, grass-covered limestone pinnacles” (100 Greatest Cycling Climbs - A Road Cyclist's Guide to Britain's Hills, p. 63 ).  

photo collage shows aerial drone view of Winnat's Gorge, road running parallel to rock formations

Aerial views of Winnats Gorge.

UK #3 MOST EPIC

BWLCH Y GROES, WALES

Cycling Bwlch y Groes - aerial drone photo of road and hillside 

Cycling Bwlch y Groes (Hellfire Pass)

Ride 1.6 miles gaining 1,206’ at 14.1%

This extraordinary climb is in the northwestern section of Wales in the Snowdonia mountain region. This is the highest paved road and hardest bike climb in Wales.  Bwlch y Groes means “Pass of the Cross.”  

We completed this jewel in August 2018 and because it is so epic,  came back for a second go in June 2022.

photo collage shows aerial drone view of Bwlch y Groes road, PJAMM Cyclist riding on one-lane country road, plaque for Snowdonia National Park

UK #2 MOST EPIC

STWLAN DAM, WALES

view of one-lane roadway surrounded by green pastureland and rocky hillside, huge dam in middle background

Cycling the incomparable Stwlan Dam, Wales

Ride 1.8 miles gaining 916’ at 10% average grade.

This is an absolute no question top UK bucket list climb and worth traveling to from any corner of the commonwealth. This stunning climb was not on our radar in 2018 when we first came to the UK for 6 weeks to document Simon Warren’s Top 100, but it was at the very top of our list when we returned for 2 months to document the UK’s hardest and most epic hill climbs.  We are simply in awe of the Stwlan Dam climb and consider it one of the most epic bike climbs in not just the UK but of the world.

photo collage includes aerial drone view of roadway and dam

SIMON WARREN’S PICK FOR

THE MOST EPIC BIKE CLIMB IN THE UK

BEALACH NA BA

Cycling Bealach na Bà

Ride 5.1 miles gaining 2,019’ at 7.5% average grade.

           

Bealach na Ba is one of the most scenic, challenging and exceptional climbing experiences in the UK.  This road is one the farthest outliers of all the hardest and most epic of Britain’s hill climbs, situated in the far northwestern Highland Council Area of Scotland.  Perhaps the greatest testament to Bealach na Ba is that it is the only climb in the United Kingdom  listed in Daniel Friebe’s exceptional climbing books, Mountain High and Mountain Higher (pages 28-31 of Mountain Higher).  This is a bucket-list climb, a chore to get to, but well worth the effort.

This bike climb is just pure epic and an absolute must for any UK bucket list.

Not only is this the most epic bike climb in all the United Kingdom, it also ranks as the hardest in Scotland and the 4th hardest in the UK.

4/10’s mile of serpentine road and hairpins leading to the finish.

“This is it: The Holy Grail, the toughest and wildest climb in Britain.  Anything you have read or been told about this amazing road is likely to be true.  For once, you can believe the hype.” Simon Warren, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, A Road Cyclist’s Guide to Britain’s Hills, p. 121.

See also Simon Warren’s Top 10 Hardest Bike Climbs - United Kingdom:  (1) Bamford Clough, England,  (2) Afon Ddu, Wales, (3) The Cowlyd, Wales, (4) Bealach na Ba, Scotland, (5) Hardknott Pass, England, (6) Melin y Coed, Wales, (7) Bwlch y Groes, Wales, (8) Rosedale Chimney, England, (9) The Lecht, Scotland, (10) Mull of Kintyre, Scotland.

PJAMM’S ADDITION TO THE UK MOST EPIC CLIMBS LIST

Cycling Mull of Kintyre

Ride 1.3 miles gaining 1,024’ at 13.5% average grade.

Mull of Kintyre is the southernmost tip of Kintyre Peninsula in a very, very remote part of Scotland - it’s a chore to get to, but well worth the trip.  Mull of Kintyre was made wildly famous by Paul McCartney and Wings song by the same name which was the band's biggest hit in Britain.  Paul McCartney has owned High Park Farm, 20 miles north of our start, since 1966.

The Mull of Kintyre climb is one of the most remarkable climbs that I have ever done, unquestionably. Situated on the southernmost point of a remote peninsula, the Mull was once used as an access point to Scotland by early humans. Now, a lighthouse stands on the rocky outcrop overlooking the coastline. The road itself is marked as ‘Not for public use.’ But, I don’t think you’ll have any issues riding the road on a bicycle. It is a steep ‘road’ which more resembles a walking path. The pavement quality matches the surrounding landscape - rough and rugged. On a clear day, these views are unmatched and simply astounding.

We understand why Paul McCartney wrote longingly about Mull of Kintyre

Mull of Kintyre

Oh, mist rolling in from the sea

My desire is always to be here

Oh, Mull of Kintyre

Far have I traveled and much have I seen

Dark distant mountains with valleys of green

Past painted deserts the sunset's on fire

As he carries me home to the Mull of Kintyre

Mull of Kintyre

Oh, mist rolling in from the sea

My desire is always to be here

Oh, Mull of Kintyre

Sweep through the heather like deer in the glen

Carry me back to the days I knew then

Nights when we sang like a heavenly choir

Of the life and the time of the Mull of Kintyre

That’s a wrap from Bealach na Ba summit!!

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