Five complete killers

Well, almost un-climables, anyway: techie tough and downright brutal uphills to test your mettle.

Climbing is a necessary evil in mtbing but when you get your head in the right place and rise to the challenge, it can be fun too. This little selection of grapples with gravity are all climbable (just!) in our opinion, but can you?

Walna Scar Road, Lake District

23km/14 Miles
GPS download: po.st/Walna

There’s a couple of real toughies in this loop and few, if any, will clean them both. There’s some corking descents too. From Seathwaite (Landranger 98/SD228961), head N then fork R (E) to climb onto the Walna Scar Road. At the gate half way up, turn R to thread between mine buildings and over boggy ground to gain good singletrack in the Lickle Valley. Follow this S to Stephenson Ground and jink R then L to follow singletrack over Carter Ground and Stainton Ground to a x-roads of tracks. Climb N through a rocky pass between Brown Haw and Brock Barrow and descend sweetly back to Seathwaite.

Hollin’s Cross, Peak District

23km/14 Miles
GPS download: po.st/Hollins

Billed as the rideable route up Mam Tor from the south, you’ve still got to be on your game to clean it. From Edale (Landranger 110/SK124853), head W and then S to Greenlands and clamber onto the ridge. Break SW to the road and continue SW along Rushup and then NW down the Roych. another techie climb gets you out again and after Mount Famine, break R to drop into Coldwell Clough, where another brutal up leads to Edale Cross. Descend the full-fun Jacob’s Ladder and thread your way back to Edale with some big ups and a Peak classic under your belt.

Telegraph Valley, Snowdonia

18km/11 Miles
GPS download: po.st/TelegraphSnowdon

Best known as the end to a Snowdon Epic, Telegraph Valley or Maesgwm, is a great climb with just enough technical interest to foil most attempts at a clean. There are a lot of ways to skin this cat but simplest is to start at Bwlch y Groes (Landranger 115/SH551599) and follow the track E over the bwlch and down to the road head. Another track leads SE to the road head at Ceunant Bach, then the Telegraph Valley tracks climbs S. At the top, either retrace your tracks – a fun descent. Or drop down to the Snowdon Ranger path and then W down to the A4085, where it’s tarmac to Waunfawr and up to the car park.

West Highland Way, Kinlochleven

22km/13 miles
GPS download: po.st/SmithsCombe

Kinlochleven is famous for the wonderful Ciaran Path, and the good news is, this route finishes down that wonderful stretch of singletrack. But first you’ve got to get up, and here we take the route of most resistance, with a brutal clamber up the West Highland Way out of the village. From the car park (Landranger 41, NN187619), take the WHW north east, then the old military road west to Mamore Lodge. Stay with this to Loch Eilde Mor and break right to the power lines then head south then west to the dam at Blackwater Reservoir. Hang a right here to savour one of Britain’s best descents down to the finish.

Smith’s Combe, Quantocks

10km/6 Miles

Smith’s Combe is a peachey descent that starts steep and ends splashing repeatedly thorugh a tiny stream that always seems to be cold. But the climb out again is a killer – try it… From Holford (Landranger182/ST154410) head SW into Hodder’s Combe, and climb Lady’s Edge W to the top. Follow the main track NW around Beacon Hill and drop R into Smith’s Combe. At the bottom, climb steeply out SE and follow the track around the hill, eventually breaking R to climb Pardlestone Hill. At the x-roads keep SA to straddle Longstone Hill and drop back into Hodder’s Combe on fine singletrack to finish.