Buttertubs is a good testing climb from Hawes to Muker taking you between the two Yorkshire dales of Wensleydale and Swaledale. It is quite long and steep and affords great views on both the way up and down. The climb from Hawes to Buttertubs features in the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France, and is the highest point (526 metres) of the race during its sojourn in Yorkshire. It is #49 in 100 climbs (ranked 8/10) It also features in the popular Etape du Dales.
On Buttertubs looking back towards Hawes.
Hawes to Buttertubs (south to North)
- length: 4.4km
- Avg grade: 6.5%
- Max grade: 20%
- Elev gain: 287 m
- In April, the full climb took me around 13 minutes with average power of 325
- During the Tour, according to Strava Laurens ten Dam climbed in 11.20 with an average power of 365 watts. Simon Yates climbed in 11.25, with just 262 watts!
Leaving the village of Hawes, there is a gentle climb away from the river valley. Then there is a right turn, signposted towards Muker which takes you on the main climb. You pass through a few houses and the gradient already begins to get steep up to 20%. The climb is then pretty unrelenting all the way to the top, though the gradient does vary. It becomes quite exposed to the elements, and can be quite windy on the upper slopes of the climb.
The road is also exposed to wandering sheep, which can be a bit of a pain – they do have a tendency to run into you path rather than away from. I do hope the peleton isn’t brought down by a kamikaze sheep. After a few km of climbing, the gradient eases off, before a short section of downhill. But, this is not quite the top, as the road goes up again before reaching the final summit at 526m.
Buttertubs (South side – Junction to Tdf KOM)
Buttertubs – Southside – Strava
Buttertubs – 100 Greatest Climbs (north side)
Buttertubs Tour de France 2014
Buttertubs pass packed to the rafters. – photo: Dave Haygarth, flick cc.2.0
“I think the Buttertubs climb can now call itself the Alpe d’Huez of Yorkshire.”
Christian Prudhomme, July 2014
In July 2014, this isolated hill was transformed into a seething mass of humanity, as thousands of spectators lined the side of the road to witness the peleton fly up the climb. Jens Voigt had the privilege of leading the peleton over the climb as he had dropped his two breakaway partners. His effort gave him the King of the Mountains jersey for a day.
Buttertubs pass Dave Haygarth, flick cc.2.0 (click to enlarge)
Buttertubs pass Dave Haygarth, flick cc.2.0
Descent into Muker
If you’re not in a rush, the descent into Muker is pretty breathtaking. There are beautiful views of the unspoilt Swaledale, stretching along the river valley. The road hugs the edge of the hill making you feel on top of the world. There are some sharp steep hairpins on the way down, so stay in control of the bike. The final section into Muker is also pretty steep and you have to come to a complete stop at the give way sign.
Muker to Hawes (north to south)
- Distance 1.4mi
- Avg Grade – 9%
- Highest Elev – 1,661ft
- Elev gain 661ft (201 metres)
The ascent from Thwaite / Muker to Hawes is steeper and more challenging. There is an initial section of 17% taking you out of Swaledale before a brief respite and then the start of a couple of 20% hairpins. These take you high up and then there is a period of downhill before the final drag to the summit. The last section is always hard work after the legs have felt only a temporary rest during the downhill. I’ve done both climbs a few times. I prefer the climb from Hawes because I generally come from that direction. But, it’s definitely worth a trip – if nothing else it’s a beautiful part of the world. With the Tour de France visiting Buttertubs, it’s sure to become even more popular as you can go up and ride a climb of the Tour de France.