Sky and British Cycling invite nominations for Nation's Perfect Hill to ride down

Sir Chris Hoy leads seqarch for UK's best descent - let us know your choice

by Simon_MacMichael   May 19, 2011  

Sir Chris Hoy starts search for Nation s Perfect Hill.jpg

Multiple World and Olympic track champion Sir Chris Hoy isn’t perhaps the first cyclist whose name springs to mind when thoughts turn to the bumpier roads out there, but the Scot has given his backing to a new campaign by Sky and British Cycling to discover the UK’s Perfect Hill to cycle down.

While for many of us the challenge of negotiating those bits of the map where the contours start getting closer together lies in pitting ourselves against the gradient and struggling to the top, the ride down the other side and the views it often affords is reward in itself; we’re all likely to have a favourite downhill stretch of road that we look forward to coasting down after cresting the summit.

Now, Sky and British Cycling are inviting your nominations of your favourite descent as part of the launch of the 2011 Sky Ride series, part of their efforts to get 1 million more people cycling by 2013. “The nationwide search,” say the two organisations, “will see the ultimate cycling descent being crowned the UK’s Perfect Hill.

“Designed to remind people how much fun cycling can be, anyone in Britain can nominate their chosen hill, the entry criteria are: location, views, where it takes them, historical significance and most importantly what the hill means to them,” they add.

Public votes and a three-man panel including Hoy and Etain O’Carroll, editor of the Lonely Planet Cycling Guide, will help determine the shortlist ahead of the winner being chosen.

Hoy, who is undertaking the role of Sky Ride ambassador for the third year in a row, said: "I'm really looking forward to taking part in one of the fantastic Sky Ride events this summer and it's great to be so involved in the campaign.

“What makes a hill perfect to cycle down? Well, that's up to you. It might be the amazing view from the top, the sense of achievement from getting there, the memories you have from riding down it, or the fact that it takes you to your favourite place - whatever hill springs to mind, we want to know and why."

Meanwhile, Sky and British Cycling have confirmed that this year there will be more Sky Ride City Events and Sky Ride Locals than in previous years, as well as the women-only Cycletta events and the Sky Ride Etape Hibernia. Full information is available on the Go Sky Ride website.

Last year, some 200,000 people of all ages and abilities participated in Sky Ride City events, and this year the first such ride will be held in Bath on 5 June – we’ll hopefully be down there, so be sure to say hello if you see us.

After that, further locations include Ipswich (12th June), Birmingham (3rd July), Middlesbrough (10th July), Bradford (31st July), Manchester (7th August), Southampton and Blackpool (both 14th August), Hull (21st August), Leicester (28th August), Mayor of London’s Sky Ride (4th September), Glasgow (11thSeptember) plus the London Boroughs of Hillingdon (31st July) and Barking and Dagenham (21st August). Further events will be announced in due course.

Jeremy Darroch, Sky’s Chief Executive commented; “Sky Ride 2011 is going to be even better than before and together with British Cycling we’re well on our way to getting one million people back on their bikes cycling more regularly.”

Ian Drake, CEO of British Cycling, added: “Together with Sky we want to inspire people to get out on their bikes and enjoy cycling, whether for a sport, a hobby or as a way to get fit. After the success of Sky Ride 2009 and 2010, we’re back in 2011 honouring great hills for cycling down and giving you the opportunity to get out on your bike and ride alongside stars such as Victoria Pendleton and Sir Chris Hoy.”

Nominations of your Perfect Hill can also be made via the Go Sky Ride website, and if your memory needs jogging about worthy candidates for inclusion, you could always have a look at Simon Warren’s excellent book, 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, which we reviewed last year (although obviously the focus there is on going uphill rather than down the other side).

Let us know in the comments below what your favourite descents are, and also any that you really wouldn’t recommend anyone attempt, for whatever reason – traffic, potholes, road furniture or anything else.

16 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Ranmore Common was the best hill ever after tackling White Down (number 13 in 100 Greatest Climbs, I'm told)

andylul's picture

posted by andylul [418 posts]
19th May 2011 - 14:57

1 Like

That is a nice hill, very quiet as well. I went the wrong way down there, wasn't the worst mistake I've made.

posted by Stefan [60 posts]
19th May 2011 - 15:47

1 Like

From the top of the 'Trough of Bowland' down to the village nominated as the 'centre of England' and allegedly the place where the Queen of England would like to live, Dunsop Bridge, a right 'royal descent'.


antonio's picture

posted by antonio [1102 posts]
19th May 2011 - 15:49

1 Like

Farthing Downs is one of the few that I really like, in a going down sense.

You get a fantastic vista of the whole of London, and yet there are sheep grazing on the common. And if you've come from the south you've done some pretty sharp climbs to get there so it is a nice reward.

It's like a last perfect moment of tranquility, beauty and achievement before you hit Coulsdon and the southern madness of London.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [684 posts]
19th May 2011 - 16:33

1 Like

any downhills in the U.K. that would warrant me forking out for one of these..

can think of any real favorites as i prefer going up, but most recently the A4136 from Satunton back down to Monmouth was a cracking decent after a very hilly ride around the Forest of Dean.

Fringe's picture

posted by Fringe [1095 posts]
19th May 2011 - 18:56

1 Like

Well it's got to be the long descent off the Cat & Fiddle into Macclesfield hasn't it?
It's fantastic to climb, so imagine going the other way!

Joe White
Rasio Bikes Ltd.

Joe White's picture

posted by Joe White [3 posts]
20th May 2011 - 10:06

1 Like

There's lots of nice descents close to where I live (Cotswolds, Oxon/Glos/Warwicks border) but my favourite is one that I don't imagine will get any vote other than mine. It doesn't even have a name.

It's only 1.5km or so long, heading down towards Cornwell on a side road off the road between Chipping Norton and Churchill.

Why do I like it? Well, there's a great view as you head down, the road meanders a little so it's fun picking out the line, hedges are low meaning you know if anything's coming in the other direction long before it's close (9 out of 10 times you won't encounter traffic though) and in the brief but exhilirating ride down the Cateye hits 60kph.

There are probably better descents round here if you're a purist with some absolutely cracking views that go on for miles and miles, but I do find that heavier traffic and reduced visibility take some of the fun away for me.

A nice bonus is that after hitting the bottom, a mile or so on it takes you onto a road that is eerily reminiscent of the Arenberg trench - 2km long, slight uphill, same tall trees either side, except we have potholes rather than pave.

Having said that one other descent I'm quite fond of is from Cumnor down into Oxford, which as a non-driver is the only place I've ever managed to trip a speed camera in my life. Wonder where they sent the Fixed Penalty Notice?

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9368 posts]
20th May 2011 - 10:51

1 Like

Only ridden these with an engine underneath me to date but hoping to change that over the summer:
- Llanberis Pass
- Bwlch yr Oerddrws (A470 Dinas Mawddwy - Dolgellau)
- A487 from the A470 S of Dolgellau to Minfford (Tal-y-Llyn lake)
- Dylife/Foel Fadian to Machynlleth. Bumpy single track road but stunning views on a good day.
- Horseshoe Pass, Denbighshire

I wouldn't think that the prospect of a screaming 40+mph descent on a BSO or Raleigh Shopper is the best way of getting more people on bikes.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2370 posts]
20th May 2011 - 12:19

1 Like

A4107 high street / afan rd from top of the Bwlch road to Cymer and further on to pontrhydyfen - never ending downhill, nice scenery and safe (relatively)

posted by egonh [30 posts]
20th May 2011 - 12:45

1 Like

Any hill with a pub at the bottom gets my vote Smile

posted by don_don [149 posts]
20th May 2011 - 13:00

1 Like

egonh wrote:
A4107 high street / afan rd from top of the Bwlch road to Cymer and further on to pontrhydyfen - never ending downhill, nice scenery and safe (relatively)

the run off the back of the Bwlch down to Treorchy is pretty special too. In fact, pick any way down and it's a blast

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7830 posts]
20th May 2011 - 13:29

1 Like

Cheddar Gorge is my favourite round here: miles of big-ring run in followed by a twisty dive down the gorge itself, followed by tea and cake at any one of about 20 tea shops. Win.

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7830 posts]
20th May 2011 - 13:37

1 Like

I'll put down cheddar as mine as well, first time down it I climbed it and descended it again I enjoyed it so much!

posted by mb429 [76 posts]
20th May 2011 - 20:13

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The other side of Mere Hill isn't bad, wonderful view before and after beginning of descent.

whizz kid

posted by whizzkid [76 posts]
20th May 2011 - 22:12

1 Like

The back slope of the Rhigos towards Glynneath gets my vote (but only if there's two of you to play slipstream leapfrog.)
Very closely followed by last year's Dragon Ride Bwlch2 descent towards Bridgend and it's stupidly grippy endless hairpin. Counter-steer into the left hand apex, crazy lean angle, knee down (well, almost) eyes right toward the photographer and............

.....point into the lens heroically.



posted by 515 [17 posts]
20th May 2011 - 22:36

1 Like

My favourite is the A87 from Loch Loyne to Loch Garry. Beautiful scenery and fantastic downhill, complete with scary cattle grid crossing at 30Mph(had fully loaded touring bike so couldn't slow down in time!)

I was going to enter this on Sky Ride Facebook site, but to do this means I have you use Facebook with an unsecure connection. Given all the security problems with FB, I'd rather not take a chance.

posted by rokapotamus [20 posts]
21st May 2011 - 8:56

1 Like