Great British Hill Climbs
Climbing is one of the most rewarding aspects of riding a bike and whether it be on the road, gravel or trails, you’re sure to feel it in your legs after tackling hills and and today we’ll be introducing you to just five great British climbs.
When one thinks of iconic climbs, your mind may drift towards the legendary passes of the French Alps or the Italian Dolomites and not towards your local hill or country park. That’s fair enough, but Britain is home to some fantastic and challenging climbs that are just as dramatic as anything the continent has to offer.
Climbing is one of the most rewarding aspects of riding a bike and whether it be on the road, gravel or MTB trails, you’re sure to feel it in your legs after taking on a British hill. There are so many to explore, and today we’ll be introducing you to just five great British climbs that you can tackle on your Lapierre bike.
The Great Orme - Wales
Arguably the most famous climb in Wales thanks to the brutal stage finish of the 2021 Tour of Britain that was held atop the hill, the Great Orme is found in Llandudno in the north of the country and is known to be a cruel mistress.
There are two different ways to take on the climb, but the most difficult way to do so is via Ty Gwyn Road. This side of the climb sees riders encounter what seems like a relatively short ascent of just 1.9km, but this shorter version of the Great Orme has an average gradient of 9.7% and is enough to make even the very best sweat.
The key to success on this climb is being punchy and carrying as little weight as possible, meaning that having a climbing focused road bike is your best option. The lightweight Lapierre Xelius SL is the ideal choice for battling the Great Orme. Featuring a carbon frame and bespoke Lapierre wheels, the Xelius will help you glide to the top of the best climb in North Wales.
Box Hill - England
From one side of the island to the other and a hill that was made famous by its inclusion as one of the deciding factors in the 2012 Olympic road race. Box Hill used to be London’s best kept secret, with locals using it as their way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and venture into the Surrey Hills.
The climb is now more popular than ever, with many riders wanting to take on the challenge each day, and it can also now be found as a virtual climb on Zwift. As for the numbers, Box Hill doesn’t sound very daunting with its 3.9% average gradient over 4km, but it does include sections over 10% for around 100 metres.
In terms of actual elevation gain, Box Hill will take you to around 170 metres above sea level. It may not be the toughest climb in Britain, but it is a great one to take on if you live in the south of the country.
Moel Famau and the Clwydian Range – Wales
It’s back into North Wales for the next climb of the day and this is one where you ought to leave the road bike at home in favour of your favourite mountain bike. Moel Famau (or ‘Mother’s Hill’ in English) is the highest peak in the Clwydian Range and has some amazing views of the country from the top, but you have to work hard to see them.
The ideal way to take on the climb is by partnering it with a series of other small hills that surround it in the Clwydian Range. Starting at Loggerheads country park, you can ride along the bridleways to the foot of the climb and power up it via almost any route you want to.
After stopping to take in the sights and sounds of North Wales, a lightning quick descent will take you back towards Loggerheads making for a fantastic loop that should only take a few hours to complete.
As mentioned, there is no sign of road bikes on this climb. Given the changeable nature of the terrain on this ride, the best bike to take with you is the Lapierre Zesty. You really need a bike that can do it all while on the trail and with the Zesty you get the simple efficiency that you need to enjoy this ride.
Hardknott Pass – England
Heading back into England and a little north, Hardknott Pass is known for being one of the best puncheur-style climbs in Britain. Found in the Lake District, one of Britain’s outstanding areas of natural beauty, this climb is anything but beautiful while you’re on it.
The numbers really do speak for themselves here, with the climb from Beckfoot taking in 2.2km of relentless gradients that can reach up to 25% in places. The average gradient of the climb is a staggering 13.9%, making Hardknott Pass as brutal as it gets in Britain.
Another aspect of this climb’s iconic status is the poor road conditions that make up the majority of the ascent. There are potholes and cambers all over the road, which when paired with tight hairpins and steep gradients make for an immense climbing challenge.
Cairn Gorm Mountain – Scotland
We’re heading into the Highlands for the final climb of this piece, and the legendary Cairn Gorm Mountain. There aren’t many real mountains in Britain, but there are a few that can provide the longer and more drawn out challenge that many places in Europe present.
The climb comes in at 5.5km in length, making it the longest ascent on our list. With an average gradient of 5.5% and sections at over 13%, Cairn Gorm is sure to leave your legs stinging once you reach the top.
Unlike some of the other climbs on this list, the Cairn Gorm is actually more famous for its descent. The road up the mountain is relatively simple and void of any major difficulties but heading over the top and back down can be a challenging experience for even the best of descenders.
You’ll once again want to have the Xelius at your side when you tackle the descent of the Cairn Gorm. Its aerodynamic frame and improved handling can give you both the speed and control that you’ll need to get down the mountain as fast as possible.