Leg and lung killers

These are some of the best/worst climbs in Britain. Ascents to test your skills, your legs and your lungs. But fear not, they all have cracking descents off the back of them too.

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1. Annat, Scotland

35km (21 miles)

OK, this one’s not totally doable, but most of it is if you’re on top of your game. And it’s a total classic too. From Annat, (Landranger 24/NG894544), climb SW to Bealach na Lice (where you can turn around if you want a short version). Otherwise, drop slightly then climb NE to Bealach Ban and drop into Coire Grannda. Climb/push S to a final col and descend to Achnashellac. Take the road SW to Coulags and climb back to Bealach na Lice to reverse the climb back to Annat.

2. Dowbury Hillfort, Quantock Hills

10km (6 miles)

This route offers two climbs for one. First Lady’s Edge, then Smith’s Combe; both doable but only just. From Holford (Landranger 181/ST159405), head SW up Hodder’s Combe, eventually climbing Lady’s Edge with a very steep finish.

Head N around Beacon Hill and then descend NE down Smith’s Combe. At the bottom, climb steeply E out again and traverse SE then climb E over Pardlestone Hill. Continue SE over Longstone Hill and descend S back into Hodder’s Combe
to finish.

3. Garburn Pass, Lake District

17km (10 miles)

The Lakes are crammed full of techie climbs and this one’s both doable and leads to a corking descent. From Ings (Landranger 97/SD442987) follow lanes NW to High Borrans and then a track N past Dubbs Reservoir to T into the Garburn Pass track. Brute force and balance will get you over a few steep, rocky ramps and it levels at the pass itself. Enjoy a cracking descent E to Kentmere, then climb S through Hall Wood and finish via a great track to Grassgarth. There is also this cracking longer version to have a go at.

4. Carding Mill, Long Mynd

25km (16 miles)

Start at the foot of the valley (Landranger 137/SO446943), and follow the stream up, forking R onto a steep ramp that then gets steeper near the top. If you make it all the way to the top, well done! Enjoy easy tracks SW over Pole Bank then road to the gliding club. Drop down Minton Batch, take road to Hamperley then climb on lanes and forest tracks to the Shropshire Way. Retrace your tracks N to the car park at Pole Cott and take the footpath (permissive BW) SE over Round Hill and down. Or there’s this slightly different longer route instead.

5. Edale Cross, Peak District

24km (15 miles)

Another double bubble of a route: first to Hollins Cross, then to Edale Cross. Very different but both technical and both doable. From Edale (Landranger 110/SK124852), climb S then E to Hollins Cross, and continue SW around Mam Tor. Pick up the Rushup Edge BW and follow this W to the road, where a R turn drops you into Roych Clough. Climb out around Mount Famine and drop N into Coldwell Clough. Now feel the burn as you climb E to Edale Cross. Keep something in reserve for the drop down Jacob’s Ladder and you’re done. A classic Peak loop and two classic techie climbs.

There’s more to mountain biking than just descending — good climbs can be just as rewarding, challenge our leg and lung power and push our mental strength

We’ve gathered our four favourite climbs from across the UK that are guaranteed to get you sweating… We promise the descent will be worth it though!

6. Black Combe, Lake District

13.7km (8.5 miles)

It’s not often you get a ride from the sea up to a summit, but Black Combe on the western fringes of the Lakes is just such a spot. Chances are you’ll be the only rider on the hill too, thanks to the remote location. The ascent has 500m vertical of all-rideable climbing, before you’re rewarded with cracking views of Ireland and a high-speed descent back down.

Start at the big slip road (Landranger 96 SD136827) by the A595 and head south, turn L onto a metalled road at Whicham and climb all the way to the summit. The descent is dead ahead and loops you all the way back round to the road.

7. Cadair Idris, Snowdonia

24.5km (15.2 miles)

Cadair Idris doesn’t have the height or the fame of its big cousin Snowdon, but it’s arguably a better ride. For starters you can actually climb it… well, most of it, the top is a carry. It’s fun to climb and descend too thanks to technical and challenging rocks, a fairly constant gradient and a pretty firm surface under wheel.

Park at Abergynolwyn (Landranger 124 SH672089), head west on Llanegryn Street, turn right at the telephone box, climb till the road runs out and turn off right. Climb to the summit, then bomb it back down.

8. Middle Moor, Peak District

15km (9.3 miles)

Climbing up to Kinder Reservoir through the heather is a pleasure — challenging but with great views. There are more climbs in the middle rolling section too and then an exhilarating singletrack descent to finish.

From Hayfield, head north-east up the Snake Path; the gate at the top marks the start of the fun. Return via Plainsteads, Matley Moor and Lantern Pike.