The hills of the North York Moors

The North York Moors is a national park in North East Yorkshire. It has the largest expanse of heather moorland in the UK, but in cycling terms is more famed for the abundance of very steep climbs, with plenty of 25% gradient signs, and the odd 1 in 3 – if you’re lucky!

blakely-bank

The North York Moors is only 40 miles from Menston, but I’ve never been before. It’s just out of range, and with the Yorkshire Dales nearby, there’s always other hills to do. But, I’ve been reading about some of the climbs like Boltby Bank and Rosedale Chimney and so finally made it over.

I drove to Sutton Bank and saw many signs welcoming the Tour de Yorkshire on the 1st May. I think the race route goes down Sutton Bank, but to many people’s disappointment it avoids any of the really epic 25% climbs. Perhaps a decision made not for benefit of cyclists, but for the calvacade of cars, which could get stuck on the hairpins of Rosedale Chimney.

Boltby Bank

boltby-bank

First up was Boltby Bank. A one mile climb with a significant 25% gradient at the end. It looks imposing from the distance as you descend into Boltby. Don’t go off too hard, as it gets tougher near the top.

White Horse Bank

white-horse-kilburn

North York Moors, and the White Horse of Kilburn.

Second up was White Horse Bank. I enjoyed this climb. It is not as steep as some. But, 20% for quite a considerable way. Overall one mile, averaging 10%. There are quite a few corners, and the designers made more effort to reduce the steepness of the climb than is usual in the North York Moors.

white_horse-kilburn

Sutton Bank

sutton-bank

I didn’t climb Sutton Bank, you get quite a lot of traffic on the main A170 road. But, I did descend from the top of the Kilburn White Horse climb. Caravans are banned going up this climb and you can see why. The signs say 74 blockages by HGVs last year. It’s a shame there is quite a bit of traffic, because it would make a great hill climb course.

Blakey Bank

blakely-bank

Top of Blakey Bank

After getting a little lost on the moors of North York Moors. I went to this isolated climb north of Kirbymoorside. It starts by the valley of Farndale and the small village of Church Houses. The wind was picking up, and fortunately it was a tailwind up Blakey Bank. 1.2 miles @10%, but mostly feels like 15-20%

Rosedale Chimney

rosedale-chimney

Top of Rosedale Chimney

After that there was a long descent to Hutton in the Hole. From there a long drag to the top of Rosedale Chimney and the rather ominous warning for cyclists to dismount! But, it wasn’t too bad to descend, as long as you are careful.

It was so windy I became a little nervous about coming back up.

Rosedale Chimney from south to north

rosedale-from-south

Top of Rosedale Chimney (version to East of Rosedale)

There are two big climbs from Rosedale. Heading North East is the relatively easier climb. In other parts of the world, it would be a star climb, but it is somewhat overshadowed by its more illustrious neighbour the other side of the valley.

rosedale-chimeny-from-other-side

None of this continental style hairpins in Yorkshire!

The best thing about this climb is looking over the valley and seeing the road of Rosedale Chimney thrown on to the valley. It looks as steep as it is.

Rosedale Chimney proper

Rosedale Chimney is a real beast, with a well deserved reputation of being a difficult climb. It was used as the national hill climb championship in 1987, where Paul Curran won in 5.22 – a rare defeat for Chris Boardman (2nd).

rosedale-hairpin

Rosdele Chimney hairpin

It is really steep, and I approached with some trepidation, keeping in lowest gear of 39*28 all the way up from the bottom. Fortunately, the really steep bit was sheltered from the wind and I didn’t get any wheel spin, despite a light rain. I was able to go wide around the steepest 30% hairpins then grovelled up the next unrelenting stretch of straight 25%.

If you’re lucky with traffic you can avoid the really steep 33% gradient by going wide on hairpin, But, it doesn’t feel like you’re cheeting. The next section is straight and there’s no way to avoid the gradient. Fortunately, the road surface was grippy – so no wheel slip, but it’s a bit more work picking best line.

After this steepest bit was over, the climb was still hard work because the wind seemed to pick up the more you neared the summit. At this point I had done 60+ miles and 2,500m of climbing so it felt quite an achievement.

It was great fun cycling in the North York Moors, I’m glad I drove over and had a go at four really tough hills. Shame it wasn’t a bit warmer and sunny, but it was mostly dry and the roads are quite quiet with little traffic at this time of the year.

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7 Responses to The hills of the North York Moors

  1. Simon Bromfield April 1, 2016 at 9:28 pm #

    Brilliant Tejvan,I’m visiting The North Yorkshire Moors for the first time in a few days.I plan to cycle Blakey Bank The Rosedale Chimney Egton High Moor. and a few others.From my B&B, Church House Farm at Gateway located just south of Danby, there is a climb called Botton Bank, it has been recored on Strava as being ridden up to April 1st 2016 by a mere 217 cyclists.The stats show it is 1.1km an average gradient of 13% with 148m elevation gain, pretty tough as they go.I have to climb this first in order to get over to the Chimney and beyond.Hopefully the weather will be kind and showcase the dramatic beauty of the moors.

  2. eatmorelard April 2, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

    Can’t believe that you managed Rosedale with a 39:25. I grovelled my way up in a 34:28 and couldn’t imagine going with any higher gear!

    • tejvan April 3, 2016 at 8:07 am #

      It was a typo, it should have been 39*28. I wish I had a 34*28 when I was climbing though.

  3. pj April 5, 2016 at 2:35 pm #

    My overriding memory of the North Yorks Moors is how quiet the stretch is after Blakey Bank.

    Lovely climbs and beautiful scenery. I wonder if the reputation of the Chimney almost overshadows the climb itself; it’s such a snorter. However, I’ve never had to race up on a 42″ gear. I think it was Boardman’s first season proper that year, possibly his first National.

    Of course, I made it up in the 39:25. http://traumfahrrad.com/2011/04/19/cycling-up-very-very-steep-hills/ I was on my hill climb weapon at the time though, all 6.5kg of it.

  4. Martin Massey June 27, 2016 at 6:03 pm #

    Good write up.
    I live on the NY Moors and cycle round it two to three times a week on and off road.
    Here are some other on road climbs to try.

    1. Botton Bank.
    2. Caper Hill.
    3. Hob Hole to Percy X.
    4. Westerdale to Ralphs X.
    5. Egton Bridge to Egton.
    6. Egton Bridge to Rosedale, Smith Lane.
    7. Limber Hill, Glaisdale.
    8. Grosmont fair head lane.
    9. Rosedale up to Blakey Ridge via Hollins lane / Knott road.
    10. Park Bank to Danby Beacon.
    11. Lealholm Lane to Glaisdale Rigg.
    12. Percy X all the way to Ralphs X, (3 climbs).
    13. Blue Bank, Sleights.
    14. Cragg Bank and Sandhill Bank, Commondale.
    15. Castleton Bank.
    16. Danby Bank.
    17. Danby Castle lane Bank.
    18. New Way out of Fryup dale.
    19. Houlsyke to Oakley Walls.
    20. Street to Glaisdale.

    All are varying lengths and gradient.
    It’s not an exhaustive list just what I can think of off the top of my head.

    Off road there are 100’s.

    Enjoy.

    PS It’s always windy too!

  5. Sws July 3, 2016 at 10:09 pm #

    Lousy hill lane 28%
    Littlebeck to animal crackers 33%

  6. Gimpeur Videos July 18, 2016 at 11:33 am #

    That’s a grand “beyoned the obvious” tick list for a visitor. I’d recommend Cleveland Wheelers “Classic Climbs” page as a guide – it’s certainly inspired me to a few evening adventures.

    A few extra to consider – “Roads to Nowhere” but great climbs”:

    Kepwick Bank.
    Bilsdale Transmitter Climb
    Climb up past crag at Kildale

    Oh, and if you’re a glutton for uphill punishment then “Silver Fox” running parallel with white horse is brute – but difficult to find “yes it goes up there into trees” and a track at top.

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