Welcome to Calderdale, home of hillclimb. If you want to get out on your bike and cycle up some hills then you’ve come to the right place. If you find anywhere else better in the UK then I’d love to hear about it.
What follows is a collection of the 50 best climbs that you can do on a bike in the West Yorkshire borough of Calderdale. I hope you enjoy cycling up them – I certainly have.
If you want to get in touch I’m on firstname.lastname@example.org
The 50 rides picked here have been chosen using a fairly arbitrary combination of criteria:
Decent amount of total ascent (height in metres)
What counts as a decent ascent? I reckoned on 100 metres to make a climb worthwhile but allowed for exceptions where necessary. The Buttress in Hebden Bridge for example.
Decent gradient or decent length
It quickly became apparent to me that these criteria work against each other. If a 100 metre ascent is particularly steep then it won’t be very long and if it’s particularly long then it won’t be very steep. Oh well. I’ve ended up with a variety of routes from the short sharp shocks like the Shibden Wall to some long steady climbs like Saddleworth Road.
Not too much overlap with another route
Some parts of Calderdale are a maze of little lanes and it is possible to manufacture many alternatives to the routes in this list just by putting in a left turn here or a right fork there. I’ve thinned out these routes by ensuring that no two routes should cover the same ground and that the remaining routes are in my eyes the best ones left over.
Not too contrived
I reckon for a perfect climb there should be an obvious starting point, a clear finishing line and a straightforward route between the two. That isn’t always been possible but I’ve given preference to those routes that come closest.
Starting in and staying mostly within Calderdale
Well it is supposed to be The Calderdale 50. But the boundaries between boroughs doesn’t always stick to the highest points so there are a few routes that head south out of Calderdale and into Kirklees or Oldham.
I didn’t want you being chased by shotgun-toting Barbour-jacketed caricatures shouting “Get orf moi land!” Having said that I’m not sure that there are any routes on private roads that would have made the list anyway but it’s a thought.
Suitable for road bikes
So no MTB routes although there are a lot of possibilities. If anyone fancies putting together a 50 best MTB descents in Calderdale I’d love to see it. All the ascents are possible without damage to a road bike although on some of them you may prefer the kind of gearing more normally found on a MTB. Some of the more cobbled routes I wouldn’t be keen to descend on my road bike but having watched Stage 5 of the 2014 Tour de France I realise that these machines are probably tougher than I thought.
Good mix of routes
Whether you like your climb to be long or short, rural or urban, on smooth tarmac or rough cobbles I think we have the lot. Ride them all and you’ll truly know your way around the hills of Calderdale. You’ll also discover that there aren’t many flat parts to the borough.
Feels like a proper route
Ideally a route should take you from one place to another. You’ll notice that pubs feature regularly on the descriptions of the rides. It’s true that I’m a fan of pubs but you have to admit that they make a very handy landmark. So, where possible, most rides start and finish at some easily identifiable feature even if that’s just a road junction or the top of a rise. Apologies if some are a little vague but trying to squeeze 50 great climbs from such a small area calls for a few compromises.
Not much downhill
It’s not much of a climb if you’re going downhill. Sometimes a bit of descent can’t be avoided but I’ve tried to keep it to a minimum.