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

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 road.cc’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 road.cc’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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

39 comments

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awkward [64 posts] 4 years ago
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My favourite descent is Kirkstone Pass towards Ullswater. Long, steep enough to get some real speed up, brilliant corners and wide enough to not worry too much about traffic. Absolutely exhilarating.

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Trekkie [3 posts] 4 years ago
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MMMh Rest and be Thankful. The road is a nightmare to descend. To many impatient drivers on a A-class road that now has a semi-permanent warning of land slides..... What ever happened to the Bealach-na-Ba from Applecross to Kishorn!

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idadown [12 posts] 4 years ago
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I'm surprised Newlands corner made it in there... if he's talking about the main road up/down - I ride this most weeks. There's better downhills at Leith Hill.

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Mariachi [24 posts] 4 years ago
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Glad Ralph Allen Drive made it, really is a great descent - I usually go up Widcombe Hill beforehand so I feel like I've earned it!

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bashthebox [751 posts] 4 years ago
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I must respectfully draw attention to Rule#55: http://www.velominati.com/blog/the-rules/#55

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

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dandan [37 posts] 4 years ago
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Ham Common, Richmond-upon-Thames. Really? That's a totally flat road going around the edge of Ham Common. Surely some mistake.

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andrew miners [46 posts] 4 years ago
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along the A470 wales cambrian range the brecons etc great views and good routes cant believe no ones put these up!!!

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andyp [1460 posts] 4 years ago
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Holme Moss is *not* a descent. It's a climb. It's just that you have to go down it to have another go.

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Martin Thomas [381 posts] 4 years ago
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How random are these? Silver Street in Lyme Regis is completely unexceptional judged by any of these criteria if memory serves (actually I can barely remember it cos it's so unexceptional). There are probably a dozen better descents within 20 or 30 miles.

Great descents are all about context. My favourite UK descent is the 10 or 11 mile swoop down from the top of the Drumochter Pass in the Highlands. But I know I'm only saying that because I descended it after five days of intense cycling just as a cold was beginning to recede, the rain stopped for the first time that day, the early evening sun came out and everything in the world suddenly seemed glorious (http://road.cc/content/blog/19660-trat-2010-%E2%80%93-stair-rods-drumochter).

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bashthebox [751 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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PeteH [151 posts] 4 years ago
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bashthebox wrote:

I must respectfully draw attention to Rule#55: http://www.velominati.com/blog/the-rules/#55

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

Agreed.

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OldRidgeback [2632 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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Simon_MacMichael [2457 posts] 4 years ago
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OldRidgeback wrote:

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

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falloverpete [29 posts] 4 years ago
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What are my thoughts? What a load of pointless wank!

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mb429 [73 posts] 4 years ago
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Well I'm getting a free bike out of it, so I don't know what you lot are all complaining about!  1

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Mr_eL_Bee [68 posts] 4 years ago
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I see that the North West and Wales are keeping quiet about their fabulous descents.

Chapeau

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atlaz [191 posts] 4 years ago
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I was also wondering about Ham Common.

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 4 years ago
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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

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 4 years ago
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Oh, and 6) Kirkstone Pass, like what awkward said

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mspoke [34 posts] 4 years ago
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We're only interested in riding uphill in the North-West.

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nick_rearden [436 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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the_mikey [162 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 4 years ago
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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  1

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

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fluffchucker [272 posts] 4 years ago
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Mr_eL_Bee wrote:

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

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formereve [61 posts] 4 years ago
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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.

ITS AWESOME.

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.

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dave atkinson [6251 posts] 4 years ago
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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  1

the via gellia is a fun descent too

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svendo [6 posts] 4 years ago
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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: http://www.cyclechat.net/topic/95592-cragg-vale-or-blackstone-edge-natio...

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stevboss [19 posts] 4 years ago
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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...

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SlowMike [2 posts] 4 years ago
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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.  13

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hairyairey [300 posts] 4 years ago
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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...

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