The *ahem* Big Cambridgeshire Climbs

I’ve classified the Cambridgeshire climbs into two types, the short and steep ones (coming soon) and the longer big ones. These are the longer, bigger climbs and the entry criteria is quite simple; the finish point must be at least 30m above the start point. For most counties that would seem quite generous, but not Cambridgeshire and, if I’m honest, some of these climbs are little more than glorified drags.

The climbs here have average gradients averaging <5%, however, some of them can ramp up quite steeply; they are not difficult climbs, but some of them at least can stretch your legs.

Unless I’ve stated otherwise, it is safe to assume the roads are quiet country lanes and generally in a good condition. There are a couple of climbs, Such as Arrington and Orwell that I’ve not included because a) they’re on reasonably busy A roads and b) there are similar but quieter climbs are nearby.

1. Pilsgate Road
Av. Gradient: 2.9%;
Max Gradient: 8.5%
Distance: 1100m
Gain: 30m
In the sandwich of land between the A47 and the Lincolnshire border there are plenty of plenty of gentle gradients: Walcot Rd to Barnack; Ufford; Highfield Rd; Langley Bush Rd. They all gain 20 plus metres over a mile or so, but even if your legs are fresh off the Lincolnshire Fens you would be hard pressed to call these anything other than drags. However, south east of Stamford is Pilsgate road and at a push, you can just about call it a climb. It starts off fairly steeply, levels off for 500m then kicks up again towards the summit.

2. Bullock Road
Av. Gradient: 3.4%;
Max Gradient: 8.4%
Distance: 1000m
Gain: 34m
Decent little climb on a quiet road in pleasant countryside. The last 200m average a steady 7% gradient.

3. High Haddon Road
Av. Gradient: 2.4%;
Max Gradient: 13.1%
Distance: 1700m
Gain: 42m
Leaving Glatton, this is a hidden gem on a little back lane up to the Bullock Road. The bulk of the climb is done in the first 300m at an 8% gradient. The remaining 1200m is a gentle 1-2% recovery slope to the Bullock road junction. Caldecot Road just to the north is a similar but smaller climb.

4. Infield Road
Av. Gradient: 2%;
Max Gradient: 5.8%
Distance: 2100m
Gain: 43m
Running parallel to High Haddon Road, and also leaving Glatton, by comparison this should be an easy climb. It has a gentler and more even gradient, but it is rarely easy. Taking you away from the Huntingdonshire Fens you invariably find yourself grinding the bike along this exposed road into a stalling headwind. I’ve raced up here many times and it has hurt everytime.

5. Gidding Road (from Sawtry)
Av. Gradient: 2.1%;
Max Gradient: 15% (but only very briefly!)
Distance: 2100m
Gain: 44
Leaving Sawtry, this is another good climb taking you off the Huntingdonshire Fens to the higher ground west. Where the road bends left onto the hill it kicks up sharply touching 15%. The road also offers a superb descent.

6. Judith’s Lane
Av. Gradient: 2.0%;
Max Gradient: 8.7%
Distance: 2000m
Gain: 41
The last of the climbs west of the A1 to take you off the Fens. It starts very gently, but once passed Archer’s Wood it kicks up to Coppingford Hamlet. The road is very quiet and single track, but can be rough and potholed in places.

7. Vinegar Hill
Av. Gradient: 3.4%;
Max Gradient: 5.8%
Distance: 1300m
Gain: 44m
A steady climb out of Alconbury Weston, it has a 10m artificial enhancement  provided by the flyover crossing the A1(M).

8. Buckworth
Av. Gradient: 2.1%;
Max Gradient: 8.5%
Distance: 1500m
Gain: 32m
Starting at Brook Lodge Farm, the climb starts gently until the road bends left and onto the climb proper. From here the road climbs at around 6.5% to Buckworth village. Once in buckworth the climb levels before a brief descent with a sharp 90 degree turn where the road again kicks up and takes you out of the village.

9. B660 to Old Weston
Av. Gradient: 3.6%;
Max Gradient: 8.1%
Distance: 1000m
Gain: 37m
A steady climb away from the A14, it is a gateway to some excellent roads beyond Old Weston. However, despite being an unusually wide road, perhaps for the benefit of Americans servicemen at nearby RAF Molesworth, the surface is quite poor.

10. Catworth Hill
Av. Gradient: 2.3%;
Max Gradient: 7.4%
Distance: 1700m
Gain: 38m
Another climb away from the A14. It starts gently, then steepens as you approach the village sign. From there the road narrows between a stand of old Elm trees. As you turn left into the village proper the gradient eases and you gain a few easy metres before leaving Catworth. The B660 continues to Kimbolton, leaving Kimbolton on the B660 is Bustard Hill, it is a good little climb but only gains 29m, so doesn’t quite make the grade.

11. Mickle Hill
Av. Gradient: 5.6% (for the climbs);
Max Gradient: 11.7%
Distance: 2900m
Gain: 62m (total gain)
This treat is hidden away on the Northamptonshire border with the treat being it’s not one climb but three in quick succession. You climb the first, drop down the other side then straight up onto the next climb. Then you do it all over again! It is a good quiet road which is just as well since the descents are fast. Think of it as Grand Tour mountain stage in miniature!

12. Stow Longa
Av. Gradient: 2.4;
Max Gradient: 6.6%
Distance: 2000m
Gain: 47m (total gain)
This climbs the same ridge as the Catworth and Stocking Lane (below) climbs. It starts gently kicks up as you approach Stow Longa village, then levels off. There is another smaller climb, gaining about 26m, coming up from Kimbolton in the opposite direction.

13. Stocking Lane
Av. Gradient: 2.4%;
Max Gradient: 9%
Distance: 1500m
Gain: 37m
Another climb leading away from the A14, it does require a special trip to reach, unless you want to ride on the A14. Nevertheless it is a favourite climb of mine along a deserted and poorly surfaced road. It starts gently with a couple of kicks to keep the interest up.

14. Easton Road
Av. Gradient: 3.4%;
Max Gradient: 12.1%
Distance: 1000m
Gain: 34m
There are 3 climbs on the ridge north of Kimbolton – Bustard Hill, Stow Road and this one Easton road. They are all fairly similar, although Easton road is the biggest and steepest. Bustard Hill has the best surface and offers a great descent, while the Easton road is falling apart, gravel across the road is common and potholes must frequently be dodged, but for for me that is part of the attraction!

15. Perry Wood Hill
Av. Gradient: 4.1%;
Max Gradient: 9.1%
Distance: 750m
Gain: 31m
The climb has an excellent road surface (it is the equal of the temporary surface laid on Box Hill for the Olympics). It is a good little climb through woods on the way to Grafham Water.

16. Offord D’arcy to Gravely
Av. Gradient: 1.8%;
Max Gradient: 5.2%
Distance: 1800m
Gain: 34m
Not sure why this has been named Waresley on Strava, but there you go. This climb only merits an entry because I ride it on the way to the club TT and it always feels like a leg deadening drag! Still, it gains a surprising amount of height.

17. Paxton Hill
Av. Gradient: 2.9%;
Max Gradient: 6.8%
Distance: 1000m
Gain: 29m
Just to the North of St Neots, it is a reasonable little leg stretcher to start you off along the gently rolling B1043 to Huntingdon.

18. Wimpole Hill
Av. Gradient: 2.8%;
Max Gradient: 9.2%
Distance: 1300m
Gain: 44m
A pretty climb from the Wimpole estate, it that feels bigger than it is. Much quieter than nearby Arrington Hill on the A1198.

19. Alms Hill to A428
Av. Gradient: 1.1%;
Max Gradient: 9.9%
Distance: 3000m
Gain: 41m
The main part of the climb is in the first 500m  as you leave Bourn village. The gradient here averages around 7%. The road then levels to a gentle drag before a final kick onto the A428 flyover.

20. Main Street to Caldecote
Av. Gradient: 1.4%;
Max Gradient: 7.9%
Distance: 3000m
Gain: 43m
It runs parallel to the Alms Hill climb above and is almost identical.

21. Madingley Hill
Av. Gradient: 3.7%;
Max Gradient: 6.7%
Distance: 900m
Gain: 32m
The area sandwiched between the A428 and A14, connecting Cambridge to St Neots and Huntingdon, offers some pleasant, easy riding, but little in the way of gradients (the riding is similar to the area between Peterborough and Stamford). The road running south out of Madingley is about as big as you are likely to find.

22. Chapel Hill (West side)
Av. Gradient: 3.6%;
Max Gradient: 11.1%
Distance: 1200m
Gain: 44m
I like this climb, possibly because of the expansive views the summit offers, it has a big, high feel to it. The climb starts gently from Barrington village, but gets steadily steeper with one notable kick as the road bends left to the summit. Good brake test on the descent over the other side.

23. Limepit Hill (Wort’s Hill)
Av. Gradient: 3.5%
Max Gradient: 9%
Distance: 1200m
Gain: 41m
Sat in the Gog Magogs, this is the Cambridge CC Hill Climb and it is a good one. As you approach the summit there are open view across Cambridge, and if you squint at the scrub growing at the edge of Wandlebury Country Park, you could almost imagine you’re conquering an Exmoor beast.

24. Limepit Hill (From Fulbourn)
Av. Gradient: 2%
Max Gradient: 5.7%
Distance: 2400m
Gain: 49m
Limepit Hill is an up and over. The Fulbourn side climb is very different. It is longer and more exposed, at times it can feel like a grind. The climb is split into three parts. The first 800m 3-4% slope steadily steepening to 5%. The climb levels off for the next 800m before another 800m at around 4% to the summit.

25. Fowlmere Road to Heydon
Av. Gradient: 2.7%;
Max Gradient: 8.4%
Distance: 3900m
Gain: 103m
You gain just over 100m with this climb. In Cambridgeshire. Not a bad climb either. I’ve only ridden it once. That was on a fine autumn day and the tree lined avenue up to Heydon village looked spectacular. Like so many of the climbs here, it starts gently before increasing to a 5-6% gradient as you approach Heydon Village.

26. New Road to Great Chishill
Av. Gradient: 2.1%;
Max Gradient: 7%
Distance: 3700m
Gain: 78m
The easiest and the dullest of the Great Chishill Climbs, it feels more like a very big drag than a climb.

27. Barley Road to Great Chishill
Av. Gradient: 3.2%;
Max Gradient: 11.4%
Distance: 1900m
Gain: 65m
This climb starts on the county boundary with Hertfordshire and begins climbing immediately. The first section to Chishill windmill averages 6-7% for about 200m. After the windmill the gradient levels off for 300m before climbing steadily up to the village. The steepest point is reached just before the summit. Definitely one of Cambridgeshire’s better climbs.

28. Duchess Drive (leaving Newmarket)
Av. Gradient: 2.6%;
Max Gradient: 6.8%
Distance: 2500m
Gain: 66m
Not the steepest or biggest Cambridgeshire climb, but one of my favourites. The tree lined climb takes you past some of the many Newmarket studs; their ostentatious gateways, hinting at the wealth behind, make this a fairly unique climb. Nearby Wooditton Road and Ashley/Newmarket Road (B1063) run parallel and offer similar, but less impressive climbs. The later road is also busier.

29. Six Mile Bottom – Brinkley Road
Av. Gradient: 2.6%;
Max Gradient: 8.1%
Distance: 2300m
Gain: 55m
Nice, quiet climb on decent rural roads. The first 1.3km are gentle, then the climb ramps up, averaging close to 5% for the next kilometer before levelling off.

30. Six Mile Bottom Road – West Wratting
Av. Gradient: 1.4%;
Max Gradient: 11.1%
Distance: 5000m
Gain: 73m
Perhaps the hardest of the climbs onto the Newmarket Ridge. The road rolls along for the first 2.5km before jerking steeply upwards for the next kilometer and delivering you on to the ridge. The final 1.5km continues to gently gain height as you approach West Wratting.

31. Rivey Hill (Linton)
Av. Gradient: 2.5%;
Max Gradient: 10.3%
Distance: 1600m
Gain: 40m
Take the Balsham road from Linton. Rivey Hill rears up on your left (as much as a Cambs Hill can rear up). The climb starts gently then steepens in the last 200m. At the top the road rolls along to Balsham. Note the min/max elevations on strava are a bit skewed!

32. Balsham Road
Av. Gradient: 1.3%;
Max Gradient: 5.4%
Distance: 7200m
Gain: 92m
A very, very gentle climb with the steepest gradient being provided by the bridge over the A11. There is a dip midway where you loose a few metres, after that it is a steady 60m climb to Balsham.

33. Bartlow Road
Av. Gradient: 2.7%
Max Gradient: 5.1%
Distance: 1700m
Gain: 47
Pleasant, steady drag on a quiet road through pretty countryside

About richardjostler

Data Scientist working at Rothamsted Research
This entry was posted in Cambridgeshire, Countryside, Cycling, Cycling routes, Hill climb, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to The *ahem* Big Cambridgeshire Climbs

  1. Tim Phillips says:

    Great list! The link for Paxton Hill is incorrect


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