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The hardest road climb in England? #55 Rosedale Chimney

Rosedale Chimney Bank Climb August 2015

It’s not the longest climb, it’s not the climb boasting the greatest elevation gain either and it’s also not the climb at the highest altitude but. I’m tempted just to leave it at that; just a lingering ‘but’. If Rosedale Chimney isn’t the steepest climb in the UK then it’s pretty well close to it!

It’s a climb that I took on in 2013 during a mountain bike ride from Lastingham and on that occasion I joined it at the pub just before the cattle grid; in the wrong gear and not knowing what to expect. Climbing hills on a bike is all about being prepared and on that occasion I just wasn’t. By the straight section between the hairpins I reached the point of being unable to turn the pedals anymore. So on this visit, with my road bike, I was determined to come & conquer.

From my previous attempt on my mtb
From my previous attempt on my mtb

It wasn’t the only part of my ride. In fact it was only 10 minutes out of my 2 hours but Rosedale Chimney will always stand out. I parked up in Cropton in the exact same spot as I had done for my 3-day mountain biking trip up in the North York Moors and I rode up to Rosedale from there. I also rode from Hutton-le-Hole up to The Lion Inn later on in my ride and that’s quite a climb in itself, for other reasons, it’s one of those long gradual climbs; quite the opposite to Rosedale.

But it always comes back to the Chimney Bank @ Rosedale. It starts off as a decent 5-10% gradient, getting steeper on occasions up until you pass the cattle grid. Then it just goes mental. They close it off to cars in the winter when it’s slippery and there are two switchbacks part way up where you just have to cycle around the outer edge of the corner because it’s far too steep on the inside edge. It’s on these sections when you realise that the sign at the bottom warning of a 1 in 3 hill may well be right. 1 in 3 is 33%, I didn’t register 33% on my Strava tracking but I passed 25% and 33% certainly isn’t beyond imagination having ridden the hill.

During one particular section I decided to switch from cycling out of the saddle to being seated, only to find that with my weight further back my front wheel started lifting off the ground, such was the gradient. I soon reverted back to standing and accepted that I’d just have to stand and grind it out the whole way up. This ride was also my first time out with my new Veho Muvi K2 action camera; so you can view the whole affair on my You Tube channel; see below.

You end up climbing 183 m in just 1.3 km, that’s 600 ft in 0.8 of a mile. After the final steepest section it does ease a little as you approach the top and the car park comes into sight but although it feels like a great relief you’re still climbing at around 10% even then. There’s a sign at the top for photo opportunities if you like but I just kept on going.

The video also shows my descent from the top, down into Hutton-le-Hole which is great fun and for a group ride on a nice sunny summers day I’d recommend stopping at the cafe across the road that you can see just before the video ends. There’s nothing quite like a nice ice cream sat outside in the sun mid way through a ride.  As for me I was alone on Thursday evening and the cafe was closed, that’s why I rode up from Hutton-le-Hole as far as the Lion Inn, then turned around, rode back down and took the road through Lastingham to get back to the car.  Glad to have chalked off another of the climbs from the 100 Greatest Cycing Climbs book; number 55 done!

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