The Challenge

Standard: Do all 50 climbs listed on this website
Deluxe: Do all 50 climbs in one go, cycling between each one

The Rules

  • Do all the rides following the routes described
  • Each ride has to be done without stopping except when required by traffic lights, road junctions etc
  • No getting off and pushing
  • No outside assistance
  • Follow the highway code
  • If you’re timing yourself and you do have to stop because of traffic lights or waiting at a junction then you can deduct that time from your overall ride time

Why the Calderdale 50?

When I was 48 I had big plans to herald the onset of my old age. The idea was to celebrate my 50th birthday by having a go at the Joss Naylor Lakeland Challenge. It involves running nearly 50 miles from one side of the Lake District to the other, taking in 30 peaks on the way with a combined ascent of 17,000 feet. The challenge is to finish in under 12 hours. The 12 hours bit always looked optimistic for me – I’ve never been a fast runner – but even if it took me 15 or 16 hours to complete it would be a memorable way to usher in old age.

Unfortunately, arthritis intervened and after a long time mucking around with x-rays, podiatrists, orthotics and what have you, I reached the conclusion that what really causes me problems is running down hills. Running 17,000 feet of downhill was a non-starter.

What next? I had a brief flirtation with road-running but couldn’t really generate enough enthusiasm to take it seriously. Triathlons initially had more appeal but thumbing through some magazines on the subject put me off. There’s too much gear. The beauty of fell running is that you just go out and run. And even the elite runners seem to have a laugh doing it.

Cycling appealed but the big challenges all seem to take forever and often involve trips overseas. I was a bit stumped.

Then, in back of a car on the way to a fell race, the talk got round to two cycling books Mountain High: Europe’s 50 Greatest Cycle Climbs and 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs: A Road Cyclist’s Guide to Britain’s Hills. In the midst of the conversation about what constituted a good climb, my friend Chris made the throwaway remark that you could probably do a 50 Greatest Climbs in Calderdale.

That remark stayed with me and grew legs. And after a while it got some wheels as well.

I’ve spent a fair time in this last year tracking down and cycling up all the decent hills in Calderdale. I’ve found far more than just 50 but I’ve thinned down the contenders into the ones that I think make the best selection. So here you are – the fifty best cycle climbs in Calderdale.

I’m not sure how many of these climbs you can call “great” but when you put them all together they add up to a serious challenge. Off you go then, and let me know how you get on.



If you manage to complete the 50 climbs then you deserve some kind of reward. A prize perhaps, or some sort of certificate at the very least.

When Wainwright wrote his Pennine Way book he wrote something about buying a pint for anyone who manages to complete it. I’m not falling for that one, oh no. If you complete my challenge then you can buy me the drink. (Which makes me sound stingier than Wainwright, an achievement in itself.)

So how about this – if you complete the challenge you can let me know about it and I’ll create a hall of fame on the website. All the best, Pete.


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