Sir Chris Hoy draws up ten-strong shortlist of Nation's Perfect Hill - is yours on the list?

Best descents include 2 from Scotland, 2 from Yorkshire, 6 from Southern half of England - but Wales misses out

by Simon_MacMichael   October 24, 2011  

You may recall that back in May we reported that Sir Chris Hoy had launched a search for the Nation’s Perfect Hill to Ride Down – well, the nominations are in and a shortlist of ten has been drawn up, including Arthur’s Seat in the four time Olympic champion’s home city, Edinburgh, and Ralph Allen Drive in’s own home town, Bath.

Sir Chris and fellow judges including Etain O’Carroll, editor of the Lonely Planet Cycling Guide, whittled down the final ten candidates from hundreds of nominations that had been received under the initiative, which was launched to tie in with this year’s Sky Ride programme.

The accompanying gallery of images shows each descent in all its glory - anyone familiar with Edinburgh will point out that Salisbury Crags is actually shown in the picture from there, but technically it is a spur of Arthur's Seat, so that's why it's there.

Factors influencing whether a descent made the shortlist included its historical significance, the view from the top and the actual route.
Besides Arthur’s Seat, Scotland is represented in the list by the Rest and Be Thankful road, also known as the A83 west of Loch Lomond, which gives stunning views across the Highlands.

Another descent close to’s heart that makes the list is Cheddar Gorge here in Somerset, while in Southern England, Silver Street in Lyme Regis, Hampshire’s Winchester Hill and Ham Common in Richmond-upon-Thames all feature, as does Newlands Corner near Guildford.

That leaves just two more spots in the top ten to be filled, and both those descents are in Yorkshire – Holme Moss and Blackstone Edge.
While many will be delighted to find their own favourite descent has made the list, there is bound to be disappointment in some quarters, not least in the North West and also in Wales, which doesn’t have a single descent featured.

So, what are your thoughts on the top ten? Did your favourite descent miss the list? And of the ten that do feature, which one do you think will prove the most worthy winner once the decision has been made? Let us know in the comments below.

39 user comments

Latest 30 commentsNewest firstBest ratedAll

I went up Silver Street when I went to Lyme, but I can't for one second imagine it would be a great descent. A busy road, far too sharp at dangerous points such as tight bends and going into town.

The descent I did on nearby country roads, however - that was ace.

My personal favourite so far - the descent on Etape Caledonia. That was magical.

posted by bashthebox [764 posts]
24th October 2011 - 11:39


bashthebox wrote:
I must respectfully draw attention to Rule#55:

Descents are lovely, as long as you've gone up the other side.



PeteH's picture

posted by PeteH [159 posts]
24th October 2011 - 11:52


There's a much more intense descent than the Salisbury Crags one just a short distance to the north of Edinburgh. It doesn't have the scenery or the length but it is extremely challenging and is a true white knuckle descent. It lies just off the main road out to the Forth Bridge, the next junction after the main Kirkliston turn off. It is dangerous due to the loose sand and grit on the road and the occasional quarry truck or farm vehicle but they add to the danger/thrill factor and if you want a real challenge, it makes the Salisbury Crags descent seem rather tame. But then Edinburgh is Sir Chris Hoy's adopted home rather than him being a local boy so he may not know all the back roads.

There are some other pretty hair raising descents in the north of Scotland for anyone wanting to travel - one near Ullapool sticks in my mind but I can't remember which road it was.


posted by OldRidgeback [2577 posts]
24th October 2011 - 12:02

1 Like

OldRidgeback wrote:
It is dangerous due to the loose sand and grit on the road and the occasional quarry truck or farm vehicle


Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9498 posts]
24th October 2011 - 12:17


What are my thoughts? What a load of pointless wank!

posted by falloverpete [29 posts]
24th October 2011 - 14:04


Well I'm getting a free bike out of it, so I don't know what you lot are all complaining about! Smile

posted by mb429 [76 posts]
24th October 2011 - 14:42


I see that the North West and Wales are keeping quiet about their fabulous descents.



.....aspiring to mediocrity Big Grin

Mr_eL_Bee's picture

posted by Mr_eL_Bee [69 posts]
24th October 2011 - 15:11

1 Like

I was also wondering about Ham Common.

posted by atlaz [175 posts]
24th October 2011 - 16:44


My favourites in no particular order:

1) The north side of the Gospel Pass
2) The Bwlch down to Cymer
3) Cheddar Gorge. That deffo deserves to be on the list
4) The B4519 from the military range down into Garth
5) Wheddon Cross to Dunster

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7854 posts]
24th October 2011 - 16:49


Oh, and 6) Kirkstone Pass, like what awkward said

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7854 posts]
24th October 2011 - 16:51


We're only interested in riding uphill in the North-West.

posted by mspoke [34 posts]
24th October 2011 - 21:35


falloverpete wrote:
What are my thoughts? What a load of pointless wank!

I can see why a few hardcore cyclists might think this but bearing in mind Sky's - and I'm sure in his personal capacity Sir Chris's - objective in encouraging more people to cycle, it was a commendable idea to take inspiration from Simon Warren's '100 Greatest Cycling Climbs' book and generate some hoopla around the fun of cycling downhill.

Which may explain the inclusion of the hill on the Ham side of Richmond Park; it's a safe hill within easy reach of many, many cyclists and getting the taste there might well encourage them to venture a bit further. You have to start somewhere.

posted by nick_rearden [864 posts]
24th October 2011 - 21:50


I've never been *down* Cheddar Gorge, only up it..

I like going down Brockley Combe Road however, although the road surface is currently too rough for some carefree descending, same goes for the descent from Lansdown Hill in Bath to Wick, too many cars and potholes.

the_mikey's picture

posted by the_mikey [155 posts]
24th October 2011 - 21:55


the_mikey wrote:
I've never been *down* Cheddar Gorge, only up it..

you should try it. you get a three-mile downhill run in before you even hit the gorge, then it's hammer down as soon as you drop into the valley. mind the sheer walls of rock Smile

Brockley Combe is very pretty. Ironically, I've only ever gone up that...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7854 posts]
24th October 2011 - 22:00


Mr_eL_Bee wrote:
I see that the North West and Wales are keeping quiet about their fabulous descents. Chapeau

They're missing;-
Long Hill - Whaley Bridge to Buxton [3%]
Winnats Pass - Castleton to Chapel en le Frith [12%]
Snake Pass - Glossop to Sheffield [7%]

I'm always in two minds
Then I go and pick the wrong one Sad

posted by fluffchucker [284 posts]
25th October 2011 - 1:23


I would like to add Slack Hill just out of Matlock. Its not long but its great to ride as its safe too as there are no roads on the left of it till you start coming up to The Kelstedge Inn. The fastest ive been down that hill is 53mph or 85kph.


There are other great hills to climb in the area such as Bank Road, Riber, Rowsley Bar, Two Dales, Holly Lane in Ambergate, Ashleyhay up to Alport, Cromford Hill, Lea Bridge to Crich, Hinderstich Lane in Whatstandwell.

You would be classed as AWESOME if you came DOWN those hills.

I know that a couple of those (Riber and Bank Road) have been used in National Hill Climbs if not more.


formereve's picture

posted by formereve [65 posts]
25th October 2011 - 2:48


we go on family hols to wirksworth every year so i'm familiar with most of those hills. descending Riber is a sketchy task indeed Smile

the via gellia is a fun descent too

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7854 posts]
25th October 2011 - 9:08


I'm annoyed they call the B6138 from Mytholmroyd to Blackstone Edge reservoir 'Blackstone Edge' when most cyclists and the road sign at the bottom giving the length and ascent call it 'Cragg Vale'. Blackstone edge in this context is usually the A58 from Littleborough to the same point. For more detail see my posts here:

posted by svendo [6 posts]
25th October 2011 - 10:43


Down the A39 Countisbury Hill into Lynmouth, North Devon.

Drops off the top of Exmoor with sea views across the Bristol Channel, fast, clearly-sighted sweeping descent, gets faster and steepens to 1 in 4 by the time you really need to think about hitting the brakes before rolling out into Lynmouth...

posted by stevboss [19 posts]
25th October 2011 - 16:56

1 Like

I clocked 57mph on a touring bike on the A859 Lewis to Harris road. Only the pussy footing cars in front slowed me down. It was a whoosh. Or the B6260 Appleby to Orton road, or the Snowshill to Broadway minor road. All 50mph plus descents. Surprise

posted by SlowMike [2 posts]
25th October 2011 - 19:04


Elm Grove in Brighton is pretty good I've taken the corner at the bottom at 45 mph many times! Ditchling Beacon should be top of the list of descents I've done the mile down it in 1:25, an average speed of 45 mph which is also totally insane...

If cycling is indeed a sport of self-abuse why aren't more cyclists sectioned under the mental health act?

posted by hairyairey [295 posts]
25th October 2011 - 22:11

1 Like

One of my favourite descents is on the A894 between Loch Assynt and Kylesku - it reminded me of the Alps and has great views.

posted by brucec [3 posts]
25th October 2011 - 23:21


Silver st in Lyme is a great climb and the views across the bay are spectacular. Desending this one is dangerous, Lyme Regis is my home town although I live in Salisbury now. I agree that there are many other desents nearby on lanes that are safer and better with less traffic. Dropping down to Axmouth and and Colyton are ace with nice nice country pubs to stop off at at the bottom!

R J Summers

Rob 105 rider's picture

posted by Rob 105 rider [9 posts]
25th October 2011 - 23:22


I love it that Wales have zero entries. Surely Chris knew he was going to get a response with that omission.

Lake Vyrnwy / Bala loop has two great climbs/descents in one go.

Otherwise someone was taking the mick putting in Richmond park....

posted by armchairbiker [11 posts]
26th October 2011 - 8:43

1 Like

Luckily living in the lakes has it's perks! Kirkstone is superb, you can easily hit 60mph down then when the wind is behind you, and as mentioned already, you often have clear view of the road ahead so as long as you're "careful" it's no problem!

Whinlatter down to Lorton is good, and also Wrynose into little langdale, but the best two to try next time are: Kirkstone backwards, either get up the struggle from Ambleside or from patterdale side past brothers water to the top and head down to troutbeck, really long (Fred folk will know this from biking up it!) and puts a smile on your face as it's a sit back and relax descent! Buttermere over Newlands and then the superb LONG LONG descent back down to Keswick (or the foot of Whinlatter Pass)... maybe see you out on the road!


posted by cllr hodgen [46 posts]
26th October 2011 - 9:11

1 Like

Mmmmm.... Ralph Allen, not sure what sets that apart from other descents in Bath and the surrounding area, maybe I'd better go and have another look and see if I become a convert...

whizz kid

posted by whizzkid [76 posts]
26th October 2011 - 9:32


Well what about Llanberis Pass, the climb starts from Nant Peris for a couple of miles up to the Pen y pass youth hotel always a good ride with great scenery,either freewheel all the way down the pass back to Llanberis or go down hill through Nant Gwynant to Beddgelert, another popular ride with us locals. :

posted by spikes [2 posts]
26th October 2011 - 9:52


whizzkid wrote:
Mmmmm.... Ralph Allen, not sure what sets that apart from other descents in Bath

the shiny new surface! have a go while it's still fresh. great fun Smile

but no, i'm not sure why that one over a bunch of others. you don't even get a great view, you're mostly in the trees. Not like Lansdown Lane where the whole of Bath is laid bare before you...

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7854 posts]
26th October 2011 - 10:01

1 Like

The NW keeping quiet about our best roads? Absolutely. It's bad enough having to share the Trough of Bowland with motorbikes without legions of soft southern, fair weather sportive riders turning up to bray about Cervelo, electronic shifters and whether they can get a through train from Kendal to Kings Cross.

It's all wool shorts, flat caps and lonely roads up here and that's the way we want it to stay.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1218 posts]
26th October 2011 - 10:47


rather than Ham Common, which is very flat, he must mean Star and Garter Hill next to Richmond Park


posted by killing-joker [5 posts]
26th October 2011 - 19:25