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Verdict: 
Another enjoyable attempt by Simon Warren to wear your legs away, but this time it serves up slightly short measures
Weight: 
153g
Cycling Climbs of Scotland
7 10

Look out, Simon Warren's about, which means yet another gruelling series of hill climbs that fill in some of the gaps inevitably left after the publication of the two volumes of '100 Greatest Cycling Climbs'. With one or two minor grumbles, 'Cycling Climbs of Scotland' is also essential reading for your Scottish cycling holiday – though not if your aim is a relaxing time.

I thought Scotland was least well served by the original two volumes. The first included only seven hill climbs from north of the border, but 14 in the south east of England. So this volume will be keenly anticipated by all fans of Scottish cycling. It was surprising, then, to find that this is the thinnest of the regional guides published so far, with 60 hills, compared to 75 in the Yorkshire and Wales volumes. Eighteen of these have already featured in the first two books, leaving 42 new challenges – perhaps not quite the generous serving we have come to expect from the series.

Cycling Climbs of Scotland by Simon Warren - pages 2.jpg

Cycling Climbs of Scotland by Simon Warren - pages 2.jpg

It's true that vast swathes of the Highlands have few roads, and Simon Warren does well to distribute his choices equitably around the kingdom. He's divided Scotland into four: The Highlands, East, West and Southern, and the rides seem to fall comfortably into those groupings without too much searching back and forth across the chapters to link together hills.

Inevitably, the section covering the Highlands contains many star challenges and all the biggest – Cairn Gorm, Bealach Feith Nan Laogh (at Strontian), Glen Coe and the fearsome Bealach-na-Ba (awarded 11 out of 10) have been seen before, so Warren heads to Ullapool to test his legs on An Teallach (almost 13km long) and even further north to Quinag – personally recommended by your reviewer.

Skye is another magnificent destination for road riding and Warren adds three more climbs on the island. Having just returned from Skye when the book arrived, I looked to see if the beastly toil from the harbour at Elgol had made it in, which it hadn't, but I can heartily recommend you avoid it if in the area.

> Find more road.cc reviews of books in the series here

The author hasn't extended his search into the Outer Hebrides, but Mull, which has been previously overlooked, gets two dramatic-sounding entries.

Glasgow-based readers should find plenty to go at around Stirling, Lanarkshire and west into Argyle and Bute, plus a rare venture into urban riding at Lyle Hill, Greenock. From previous books I've gained the impression that the author enjoys an urban challenge so was a bit disappointed that there are few of these. A handful might have made up the numbers.

In the south, Dumfries and Galloway gets more of the recognition it deserves, with the inclusion of roads like The Wall of Talla and Lowther Hill. The Borders, too, gets a much better look-in. The eastern region covers the majority of the Cairngorms, wherein go climbs up the Cairnwell Pass and Crathie Hill, and the areas around Fife and Perth also get a very decent and well-deserved entry.

Cycling Climbs of Scotland by Simon Warren - pages 1.jpg

Cycling Climbs of Scotland by Simon Warren - pages 1.jpg

All the usual features are present and correct – coloured sketch-maps for locating the hill, 'factfiles' for at-a-glance summaries of the challenge presented, a tick-list, and many, many photographs of rain-sodden Scottish roads. The volume covering Wales took some stick for mis-spelling of place names. In no way am I qualified to judge whether the author's grasp of Gaelic is better.

All in all, it's undoubtedly another entertaining guide that's bound to create discussion and inspire longings and fear in equal measure; but for the first time in the series I felt the book had come up slightly short of expectations. In the introduction, Simon Warren says he did most of the research on two week-long trips and I suspect it can take quite a bit longer than that to really get to grips with such a big and diverse nation.

Verdict

Another enjoyable attempt by Simon Warren to wear your legs away, but this time it serves up slightly short measures

road.cc test report

Make and model: Cycling Climbs of Scotland, by Simon Warren

Size tested: Paperback

Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?

The sixth book in the Cycling Climbs guides from bestselling author of 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs, Simon Warren.

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, these great roads demand the utmost 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, if you crave fresh air and pristine wilderness, then head north to tackle the Cycling Climbs of Scotland.

Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?

Paperback, 144 pages, all-colour photographs.

Rate the product for value:
 
8/10

The low price of the series volumes makes them cheap to collect. This is a bit thinner than most, though.

Tell us what you particularly liked about the product

The rides are clearly presented and well set out. The spread around the Scottish regions is good.

Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product

That's enough photos of wet tarmac!

Did you enjoy using the product? Yes

Would you consider buying the product? Yes

Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes

Use this box to explain your score

It's good, but a bit short on content, especially if you already have the others in the series.

Overall rating: 7/10

About the tester

Age: 52  Height: 6'2  Weight: 73kg and holding steady

I usually ride: Cannondale CAAD10   My best bike is: Tomassini Prestige

I've been riding for: Over 20 years  I ride: A few times a week  I would class myself as: Experienced

I regularly do the following types of riding: touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mountain biking

11 comments

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MandaiMetric [127 posts] 2 months ago
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Hmm good timing, I plan to visit Scotland in a few weeks and was considering riding Torridon Bealach-nà-Ba -> Applecross -> Torridon loop. 

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pjm60 [11 posts] 2 months ago
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Just to note it's the Wall of Talla rather than Tulla in D&G

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HalfWheeler [620 posts] 2 months ago
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Enjoyable book, has given me a few suggestions, and I appreciate the author only has so much time and limited pages but the most glaring omission for me was the absence of any climbs on Arran.

The island has three stonking climbs; the Boguillie from Lochranza, the String from Brodick and worst/best of all the Ross Road from Lamlash.

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Tass Whitby [24 posts] 2 months ago
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pjm60 wrote:

Just to note it's the Wall of Talla rather than Tulla in D&G

Thanks pjm60 - corrected in the review now.

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derek n clive [253 posts] 2 months ago
1 like
MandaiMetric wrote:

Hmm good timing, I plan to visit Scotland in a few weeks and was considering riding Torridon Bealach-nà-Ba -> Applecross -> Torridon loop. 

 

That’s a great loop but IMO I’d give it a swerve in the high season (June to Aug). Thanks to the popularity of the NC500 it’s now full of motorised tourists, bikers and Jeremy Clarkson wannabes in their Audis doing ridiculous speeds on single track roads. It’s not fun. It’s also nigh on impossible to get accommodation unless you’re camping. The best times to do it are March/May and Sept/Oct – or Nov if you’re hardcore!

 

FWIW you can easily tick off at least six climbs from the book if you base yourself in Pitlochry – Ben Lawers, both side of Glen Quaich (with the Kenmore side Britain’s answer to the Mortirolo – it’s beyond brutal) the Cairnwell Pass (highest public road in the UK) Crathie, The Lecht (both sides are ‘fun’) as well as a few others he didn’t cover like the stunning climb out of Aberfeldy, the Moulin that starts from Pitlochry high street and the much harder side of Ben Lawers from Loch Tay.

 

If you live in easy access of the Caledonian Sleeper route Pitlochry is a piece of pi$$ to get to. Live in London with a long weekend? Board on the Friday night (your bikes go free of charge) wake up in Pitlochry, dump your bags at your B&B and hit the road. Sleeper back on the Sunday or Monday night.

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Duncann [1046 posts] 2 months ago
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derek n clive wrote:

in easy access of the Caledonian Sleeper route Pitlochry is a piece of pi$$ to get to. Live in London with a long weekend? Board on the Friday night (your bikes go free of charge) wake up in Pitlochry, dump your bags at your B&B and hit the road. Sleeper back on the Sunday or Monday night.

Sleeper is great - but cabins f'in expensive unless you book well ahead and/or travel at less on less popular dates. Reclining seats are relatively cheap but not much fun.

Best tip is probably to take a companion and get a Two Together railcard.

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Duncann [1046 posts] 2 months ago
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Keen to try the green Lowther climb one of these days - haven't seen the book's route but presume it's from the Menock side all the way to the radar station - over 700m climb  1

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MandaiMetric [127 posts] 2 months ago
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@derek n clive

Thanks for the great info, I've stayed in Blair Atholl a few times many years ago.  I was hoping to go further towards NW this time - also plan to hike Suliven and/or Assynt.

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Duncann [1046 posts] 2 months ago
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MandaiMetric wrote:

@derek n clive

Thanks for the great info, I've stayed in Blair Atholl a few times many years ago.  I was hoping to go further towards NW this time - also plan to hike Suliven and/or Assynt.

Might be useful if up that way... www.inverness-durness-highland-bike-bus.co.uk

 

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Al__S [1227 posts] 2 months ago
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I'd heartily recommend (despite having failed to finish this year due to illness) signing up for the Tour of the Highlands 3-day-er to cover a fair chunk of the best. I only managed Day 1, but that had the aformentioned harder side of Ben Lawers (from Loch Tay), Schiehallion (is that the summit? No of course it isn't, it keeps going), then out of Tumme;l Bridge to Trinafour for Errochty.

Day 2 does that up up out Pitlochry to go to Glenshee, The Lecht and Cairngorm. I was gutted to miss out!

Excellent organisation, I'll be headed back to finish it next year. Luggage transfer start to finish each day, well run feed stops, hot food at the finish, chip timing. What more could you want?

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MandaiMetric [127 posts] 1 month ago
1 like

I tried to traverse the Lecht yesterday, the wind was more brutal than the gradient. I was being blown all over the place on the descent, despite going slowly. 5 celcius at the top, quite a shock having lived in SE Asia for years. The Lecht is brutal, I don't feel any shame in saying I walked part of it - I'd like to blame the headwind, but I doubt I could have got up the initial ramp (from the village of Cock Bridge) on a still day - if such a thing exists there.

I rode 150km from Pitlochry to Glenshee to Braemar to Lecht to Aviemore (then train back). I ache everywhere today. A man at Glenshee ski centre stop said he'd just been in the meteorogical hut, and registered wind gusts of 70mph - I have no reason to doubt him.