The 100 greatest UK cycling climbs are now dropping thick and fast. After dispensing with climbs #87 & #88 in North Wales two weeks earlier, this week I took on climb #58; Carlton Bank. It may have been sub-zero with snow and ice on the roads and a wind that almost blew me up and over the wall but at least there was no hail this time.
I finished work up in Stockton on Tees with just enough time to drive down to Hutton Rudby, get my bike out and complete a short loop; up Carlton Bank, onward to Chop Gate, down through Great Broughton into Stokesley and back round to Rudby. Hutton Rudby made a good place to start the loop from, as well as having a village shop and plenty of parking it also has this bench eating tree.
The climb up Carlton Bank starts from the other side of Carlton in Cleveland, so I had a few miles to warm up before the gradient really took a turn upwards. At least that was the theory; in practice the wind blowing across from off the snow capped moors was so cold any thought of warming up was soon blown away. I actually found myself feeling much warmer up on the moors themselves than during my approach.
Having hunted down a good few of the 100 UK climbs, I now find myself quite quickly liking or disliking a climb. Carlton Bank definitely goes down in my good books, this is one I’ll happily ride again. It is a noticeable climb on the way up from Carlton in Cleveland but the hill really kicks in at the cattle grid; from here the road has been recently resurfaced and this makes for a nicer experience. I like hills where you have a steep beginning, a steep end and a slightly shallower middle as a short respite and this is exactly what Carlton Bank provides. An ideal climb must also take your breath away with it’s scenery as well as it’s gradient and Carlton Bank doesn’t disappoint in that respect either; off to the left the land drops away suddenly, providing a very open view.
I prefer to complete a loop rather than just climbing up a hill and riding back down, so I then continued through to Chop Gate, took a minor road past, and at times through, a few farms and then down Clay Bank into Great Broughton. You can really let rip going down Clay Bank, it’s wide, reasonably well surfaced and not so steep to be uncontrollable. Let go of the brake levers and you’ll soon be over 40 mph.
Riding across the moors the snow was still lying thick but the roads were mostly clear, the one road that was quite icy in places and caused a few issues was the one from Chop Gate through Urra; in retrospect I should have kept to the main road (B1257) instead, considering the conditions. There were also bits of snow on Raisdale Road between Carlton Bank and Chop Gate but nothing to concerning.
As I mentioned, Carlton Bank has gone down as one of my favourite UK climbs so far from the top 100. I’ve even put together a long road loop on Strava Routes that includes it and along the way also picks up climbs 54, 55 & 56 as well. Number 55 is Rosedale Chimney which I’ve also done already but it too is a climb worth repeating. While 54 and 56 are Boltby Bank and the White Horse Bank, two climbs which I’m yet to add. Expect a write up of this loop sometime in the summer!