Great climbs

If you want to take on some great climbing, practise for a challenge event or just do fantastic rides, then the Yorkshire Dales is simply one of the best places in the country. It is no surprise that in Simon Warren's book '100 Great Cycling Climbs' there are 11 featured in the Yorkshire Dales. And there are plenty more.

Many are now well known – Buttertubs Pass between Hawes and Swaledale, the Coal Road rearing up from Garsdale over to Dentdale, the Fleet Moss climb from Hawes, or brutal Park Rash near Kettlewell.

The day rides page contains some suggested routes which take in some of the great climbs and it is easy to devise your own routes linking them up to suit the weather and your fitness. Or you can take part in one of the many cyclo-sportive events which take place in the area and let someone else plan the route.

When you come remember to check those brakes, make sure you have some sensible gears, and don't forget that it is exposed out on the tops. If you fancy a break from the hills then head to the east of the area where there are great flat routes around Masham and Ripon and in the Vale of York.

Key

How to use the map

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  • Climb route The great climb routes are displayed as red lines.
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Park Rash

Length: 1.42 miles (2.29 km)

Height gained: 994 feet (303 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 9

Start location (grid reference): SD 9774 7402

Summit location (grid reference): SE 1572 6551

Nearest settlement: Kettlewell

Routes taking in this climb: Hawes toughie

The most challenging side to climb Park Rash from is going from Kettlewell. There is a short steep taster out of the village before a gentle section towards the climb proper. The initial section through the zig-zags is brutal and is doesn’t get much easier after that. You get a sit down higher up before a final steep section up and over the cattle grid. For those who like long easier angled climbs try climbing Park Rash from the north which follows a lovely road up Coverdale before a final short steep section to the top.

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Greenhow Hill

Length: 2.48 miles (3.99 km)

Height gained: 925 feet (282 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 6

Start location (grid reference): SE 1149 6418

Summit location (grid reference): SE 1572 6551

Nearest settlement: Pateley Bridge

The main Greenhow Hill climb heads out of Pateley Bridge in Nidderdale. It gets down to business straight away as you leave the town with the first in a series of steep sections. You get a brief respite before another steep section and this is the pattern until the top. Shortly before the summit you will see signs for Coldstones Cut – a huge sculpture with a surprising view that is worth a look (although it’s a bit far in cleats).

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Oxnop Scar

Length: 2.40 miles (3.86 km)

Height gained: 889 feet (271 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 7

Start location (grid reference): SD 9495 9117

Summit location (grid reference): SD 9409 9421

Nearest settlement: Aysgarth, Hawes

Local climb name: West Moor Road

There are a whole series of climbs between Wensleydale and Swaledale including Oxnop Scar and Buttertubs Pass, and all of them are worth doing. This makes it really easy to do a two valley route with a couple of great climbs and they are pretty similar from each direction. Oxnop Scar is a tough climb from either side with several short sections of 25% interspersed with easier gradients.

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Malham Cove

Length: 1.05 miles (1.69 km)

Height gained: 591 feet (180 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 7

Start location (grid reference): SD 8793 6633

Summit location (grid reference): SD 9007 6267

Nearest settlement: Gargrave, Settle

Leaving Malham you take the left-hand road out of the village and the climb kicks in. Don't forget to look over the wall to your right for great views of the cove – an 80m high amphitheatre of limestone rock. A series of steep sections makes life uncomfortable until things ease off towards the top.

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Langcliffe Scar

Length: 1.45 miles (2.34 km)

Height gained: 728 feet (222 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 7

Start location (grid reference): SD 8570 6725

Summit location (grid reference): SD 8207 6505

Nearest settlement: Settle

The little village of Langcliffe is just north of Settle. There is no warm up on this climb – you leave the village, go over a cattle grid and then head up through a steep series of switch-backs. Things then ease off, and there is even a short descent before you a long draggy climb up onto the moors above Malham.

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Buttertubs Pass

Length: 2.40 miles (3.86 km)

Height gained: 732 feet (223 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 8

Start location (grid reference): SD 8687 9567

Summit location (grid reference): SD 8745 9096

Nearest settlement: Hawes

Routes taking in this climb: Two valleys route, Etape du Dales, Tour de France du Dales

A classic from either side – this route connects Hawes in Wensleydale to Muker in Swaledale. From either direction expect a long climb with some steep sections to reach spectacular open moorland. The Buttertubs themselves are a series of open shafts near the summit into which farmers would lower their butter and cheese to keep them cool.

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Fleet Moss

Length: 3.46 miles (5.57 km)

Height gained: 1,109 feet (338 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 9

Start location (grid reference): SD 8596 8377

Summit location (grid reference): SD 8698 8986

Nearest settlement: Hawes

Routes taking in this climb: Hawes toughie, Etape du Dales

Another Dales classic. You leave Hawes, go past the home of Wensleydale Cheese, nip through the village of Gayle and are then hit with the first steep section. There is then a chance to gather your breath as you look ahead to the top section which is straight and very steep. There is then a little breather before a final short kick-up to the summit. From the other side the climb comes up lovely Langstrothdale before heading onto Fleet Moss – another great route.

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Tan Hill

Length: 6.18 miles (9.95 km)

Height gained: 676 feet (206 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 3

Start location (grid reference): NY 8959 0668

Summit location (grid reference): NY 9986 0330

Nearest settlement: Kirkby Stephen

Routes taking in this climb: Swaledale circular, Tan Hill toughie, Etape du Dales

This is a superb continental style climb from Reeth in Swaledale. Plenty of time in-the-saddle climbing up to the highest pub in Britain, but be warned if there is a strong westerly wind blowing it will seem endless. If that is the case you are much better off going up the valley and reaching Tan Hill from the south, and then enjoying the brilliant descent back to Reeth.

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The Stang

Length: 2.38 miles (3.83 km)

Height gained: 791 feet (241 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 6

Start location (grid reference): NZ 0185 0675

Summit location (grid reference): NY 9986 0330

Nearest settlement: Reeth

This is a great climb from either side and runs north from Swaledale towards Barnard Castle and the North Pennines. Leaving Reeth you head up Arkengarthdale before turning right shortly after Langthwaite. The road drops down, crosses a stream and then heads uphill. There is an initial steep section which is followed by easier climbing up to the boundary between Yorkshire and County Durham.

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Garsdale Head

Length: 2.29 miles (3.68 km)

Height gained: 728 feet (222 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 7

Start location (grid reference): SD 7834 8866

Summit location (grid reference): SD 7864 9199

Nearest settlement: Dent

Local climb name: Coal Road

Routes taking in this climb: Etape du Dales

This is the minor road crossing between Garsdale station and Cowgill in Dentdale and is brutal in either direction. Whichever way you do this climb expect some long periods out of the saddle as you head up to what was an old coal mining area. It also goes past Dent Station – the highest mainline railway station in England.

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Lamps Moss

Length: 3.06 miles (4.92 km)

Height gained: 991 feet (302 m)

Difficulty (out of ten): 7

Start location (grid reference): NY 8117 0405

Summit location (grid reference): NY 7744 0674

Nearest settlement: Kirkby Stephen

Local climb name: Mallerstang

Routes taking in this climb: Etape du Dales

This climb runs between Keld at the top end of Swaledale and Kirkby Stephen, and is a great climb from either side. Never outrageously steep and with a few respites, this is a long climb crossing an exposed section of moorland.

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