Saddleworth Road

Distance: 12310 metres, Ascent: 421 metres, route map

For an English hillclimb this is about as long as they get. There’s over 400 metres of up in just over 12 kilometres. It’s not an unbroken climb as there are a couple of places where a slight downhill prevents it from challenging the Cragg Vale route for the title of longest hill in England. This is most noticeable when the road goes high over the M62 on what was once the longest single span non suspension bridge in the world (130 metres). Scammonden Bridge was named after the village that was flooded to create the reservoir that now bears its name. As a side note, the dam across the reservoir is unique in Britain in also carrying a motorway.

The route starts in Stainland where the B6114 Saddleworth Road meets the B6112 Stainland Road at a set of traffic lights. It’s all quite urban and busy, in stark contrast to the remote moorland that greets you at the end of the challenge. It’s a rare day when it isn’t blustery up on the tops but if a wild bleakness is to your taste then you’ll be in your element.

Set off in the right direction and you won’t need a map – just a fit pair of legs that are happy to keep pedalling. A look at the profile for this ride tells you pretty much all you need to know. There are no steep sections – the whole route is at a fairly constant and unspectacular gradient. The sting in the tail however can come when you reach higher and more exposed ground. The prevailing wind is likely to be against you and can be strong.

Once over the motorway bridge it feels like you should almost be done but there’s actually another 4 kilometres to go. The very final stretch takes you out of Calderdale and into neighbouring Kirklees where the road stops at the junction with the A640. There’s a viewpoint just across the way which is a good excuse to get your breath back.

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