Great cycling climbs in Scotland
A new book, Cycling Climbs of Scotland, offers inspiration for bagging some of the best hills. Written by Simon Warren, the book details a variety of road climbs that are spread geographically. Read the pdf of my article in the Sunday Mail or see the story below. You might want to buy the book, too.
5 great Scottish hill climbs for cyclists
Few cyclists like riding uphill – but many enjoy ticking off a list of challenges, as well as the thrilling descent afterwards.
This is how various climbs in the UK have become must-dos for riders.
But where are the best cycling hills in Scotland and how many have you done?
Keen cyclist and author Simon Warren has compiled a list of top hills in the new book, Cycling Climbs of Scotland.
Warren is also the name behind the best-selling 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs and Another 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs.
Of Cycling Climbs of Scotland, he writes: “Wild, remote, windswept and downright epic, the climbs of Scotland are not for the faint of heart.
“Crossing weather-beaten islands and often snow-covered mountains, the great roads demand respect and are often set in scenes of indescribable beauty.
“The famous glens and lochs that draw visitors from around the globe are the backdrop to legends such as The Lecht, The Talla Wall and the one and only Bealach nà Ba.
“So if you like your cycling rough and rugged and if you crave fresh air and pristine wilderness, then head north to tackle the Cycling Climbs of Scotland.”
Simon lists five of his favourite bike climbs, of the 60 listed in the book published by Frances Lincoln this month priced £8.99.
1 The Wall of Talla
Where: Tweedsmuir, Borders
Height gain: 149m
Following the edge of the Talla Reservoir, I spied what looked like a road cutting up the hillside ahead.
“No, it can’t be,” I thought. “It’s way too steep!”
But then as I drew closer, it dawned on me: This was indeed the road – and what a climb.
Right from its bottom corner, the narrow sliver of tarmac rockets skyward, hitting 20 per cent almost right away.
It continues in this vein up to the small bridge crossing the reservoir then thankfully eases to the eventual summit.
2 Lowther Hill
Where: Wanlockhead, Dumfries & Galloway
Height gain: 273m
When ridden following the ascent of the Mennock Pass from base to summit you get close to 14 kilometres of constant climbing before you reach the top.
The higher reaches that are the best, after leaving the B797 just outside Wanlockhead.
Winding through barren the hillside in search of the giant radar at the top, the closer you get, the tougher the climb becomes.
It has countless bends and stunning views in all directions.
3 The Serpentine
Where: Rothesay, Isle of Bute
Height gain: 74m
When I first saw this climb with its amazing bends I was stunned.
On the approach up Castle Road in Rothesay, you see the spectacular concertina of hairpins above and feel a surge of adrenaline.
First you twist left, then right, before you negotiate Mount Pleasant Road to tackle The Serpentine itself.
And with 14 tight corners from base to summit, it’s enough to send you dizzy.
4 The Lecht
Where: Cock Bridge, Aberdeenshire
Height gain: 245m
A true monster of a climb through the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, the road up to the Lecht Ski Centre is also a stunning ride.
The ascent starts from the beautiful Corgarff Castle and straight away you hit 20% slopes. It is rough, relentlessly steep and a little twisting.
After a short breather during a slight downhill midway, there, in front of you, painted on to the side of the mountain and resembling a giant flight of stairs, lies the rest of the climb. It’s an awesome sight.
5 Bealach nà Ba
Where: Applecross, Ross & Cromarty
Height gain: 623m
This is it: the Holy Grail. The toughest and wildest climb in Britain.
Believe the hype. Anything you have read or been told about this amazing road is true.
The nine kilometres of rough road clings precariously to the mountainside as it delivers you into true wilderness.
As the final bends come into view you must first tackle an endless, soul destroying 20 per cent slope before you reach the four majestic hairpins that deliver you to the summit of this infamous and arduous tangle of tarmac.