Shap Fell hill climb


Kent Valley R.C. Hill climb on Shap Fell

Shap Fell is the first hill climb of the season. It’s seems a bit strange to be doing a hill climb, just as everyone else is gearing up for a quick blast down the fastest dual-carriegeways in the land. But, to be fair to Shap Fell, it’s not the most torturous hill climb. You don’t need to be reaching for your lowest sprocket; you can even do it on the Big Ring if you really wanted. But, it is long. 9 miles from Kendal to the top of Shap Fell averaging 3%. It needs  good steady pacing, not dissimilar to a ten mile time trial.

Shap Fell from Kendal to shap

  • distance: 9.0 miles
  • height gain: 1245 ft, / 370 metres
  • Height altitude: 1,400 ft / 420 metres
  • average gradient: 3%
  • max gradient: 8%
Spot the hill climb specialists. Answers on a postcard. First correct answers wins a carrot cake
Spot the hill climb specialist. Answers on a postcard. First correct answers wins a piece of carrot cake

I was keen to enter the Kent Valley RC event – partly for the first opportunity to wear the National Hill Climb Jersey, but also hoping for a tailwind to have a go at the course record, which has stood for quite a while (Gethin Butler, I believe). The wind Gods prevailed and there was a nice tailwind up the exposed Lake District slopes. Unfortunately, the gods of long term traffic works were not so compliant and resurfacing work meant we couldn’t do the full climb, but got diverted near the top – ‘down a farm lane, where there might be some hens crossing the road’.

David Murphy. 1st junior 21.17 - even more impressive was winning 75 mile road race the day before
David Murphy. 1st junior 21.17 – even more impressive was winning a 75 mile road race the day before

I had time to do a quick warm up and ride the modified course. I didn’t see any ducks crossing on the minor road, but there was a sheep wandering in a random direction as sheep are wont to do.

The modified course, would be just 7 miles, averaging 3%. It meant the hardest last section to the top of Shap Fell was missed out.

The end is nigh
The end is nigh

Amongst the competitors, there was a good mixture of road bikes vs time trial bikes some with full disc wheel. With a tailwind forecast, I left the bongo bongo (aero) equipment at home, and took the good old fashioned road bike. Even with tailwind, there is a good case for using time trial bike, disc wheel and aerohelmet.  But, I seem to have been riding TT bike since the first of Jan, I wanted to remind myself what is what like to ride a road bike. Plus after the race, I was planning to head up Great Dun Fell – and there was no way I was going to do that on a TT bike.

Smiling is only allowed on the startline during hill climbs
Smiling is only allowed on the startline during hill climbs

It was a perfect day for racing up Shap Fell, warm, tailwind and even the odd outbreak of sunshine – on a May Bank Holiday Monday to boot. I didn’t set off too fast; I assumed the times for a 7 mile hill climb would be close to a fast 10. I haven’t done the climb for a few years, and I’d forgotten the sections of flat and downhill. I spent a bit of time in an Obree tuck, trying to keep aerodynamic. But, just as you are flying along at 23mph plus, you hit a steep ramp of 5-7% and you have to get back into hill climbing mode. I caught a couple of riders and made a last big effort after turning off the A6 onto the minor road. Fortunately, the hens were all well behaved and I had a clear run for the line.

or on the way down
TT bike on the way down.


1Tejvan Pettinger(Sri Chinmoy Cycling team)17:45
2Richard Bickley(Border City Whs)18:49
3Mark Haydock(North Lancs RC)18:59
4Paul Roby(
5Peter Greenwood(Team Swift)V6019:08
6Paul Fleming(Preston Wheelers)V4519:57
7Thomas Gibson(Kent Valley RC)20:04
8David Wilkinson(Kent Valley RC)V5520:20
9Peter Thomas(Kent Valley RC)20:25
10Paul Greenhalgh(Manchester Wheelers)V4520:28
11Randle Shenton(Team Swift)V5520:41
12David Trotter(Lancaster CC)20:44
13John Paterson(Classic Racing Team – SCU)20:52
14David Robinson(VC Cumbria)V5020:53
15Dougi Hall(Border City Whs)V5020:56
16Mark Brearton(The Endurance Store – SCU)V4021:05
17David Murphy(Liverpool Mercury Dolan CC)JUN21:17
18Philip Bradshaw(Wigan Wheelers CC)V4521:22
19William Belcher(Clayton Velo)V5021:27
20Roy Flanagan(Rossendale RC)V5521:45
21Derek Schofield(Rossendale RC)V6021:46
22Simon Jones(Beacon Wheelers)22:00
23Stewart Mounsey(Kent Valley RC)V4022:02
24Stephen Gardner(Lancaster CC)V4022:21
25Elliot Dason-Barber(Oxonian CC)V4022:33
26Stuart Timmins(North Lancs RC)V5522:42
27David Pritchard(Kennoway Road Club – SCU)V5522:50
28Tim BennettKent Valley Road ClubV4523:11
29Neil Wood(Lancashire RC)V4523:38
30Earle Logan(Lune RCC)23:57
31Colin Reynolds(Leigh Premier RC)V4027:14:00
32Mike Westmorland(Border City Wheelers)V6529:50:00
33David Tinker(Clayton Velo)V5530:33:00

If the revised course was 7 miles, that works out at an average speed of 23.7 mph (The Bristol South CC megahilly was an average speed of 21.9 mph)

The start

4 thoughts on “Shap Fell hill climb”

    • Hi Ian
      As it might actually be on this year, jump off the train at Oxenholme for a 5 mile ride to HQ, or change at Oxenholme for a local train to Kendal, where you’ll be a couple of miles away.


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