Winnats pass – Peak District UK
This brute of a climb is a test of mental and physical strength.
- Distance: 1.9km
- Elev gain: 208m
- Starting Elevation: 214m
- Final Elevation: 421m
- Avg Grade: 11%
- Max Grade: 28.9%
Difficulty rating: 10/10
Riding out from Hathersage to Castleton lulls you into a false sense of security as the road is carved along the valley floor giving you several miles of flat to power along, a welcome break when riding in the peak district.
However, looming over Castleton you can see Mam Tor coming along on the horizon. As soon as you get through Castleton and turn off to begin the climb you can see the road carved out of the mountainside towering above you.
The long straight stretch before the opening cattle grids is steep, and quite often I’m in my top gear (34-28) before the hill really kicks in, try to pace yourself here and save your legs for when the climb really begins.
Heading past the Speedwell cavern and over the cattle grid the gradient really kicks up, always wishing you’d put a 32 cassette on the bike, you have to dig in and persevere onwards. Rising upwards are enveloped by the step walls towering above you and you have nowhere to go.
Up, just straight up. You can’t stop. If you do stop, you’ve blown it.
With ramps as steep as 28.9%, you can’t stop as there’s no chance you can get started again. All you can do is keep spinning, desperately trying to keep enough speed to stay upright.
Mentally when riding this I brake the climb into 4 sections:
- Arthur’s way to the cattle grid
- Cattle grid to grit box 1
- Grit box 1 to grit box 2
- Grit box 2 to the top cattle grid at the farm
Each block is probably only 200-300 metres long but it feels like an eternity getting from one to the other, however, somehow breaking this into chunks like this just helps me get through it.
Just after the first grit box the hill really kicks up over 20% and it’s just pain, one pedal stroke at a time, grinding the legs just to stay upright.
Reaching the top cattle grid the road eases of to a gentle 7 or 8% (yes, I know that’s still step but after the last stretch that feels like a flat road!). From there junction at the top you can turn left to head down to Dove Holes and Miller’s Dale or right to loop around Mam Tor and loop back down Mam Nick to Edale.
The latter is a favourite ride for me after work in the summer months. Hopefully I’ll post that route at some point when I have time.
Featured image credit: http://www.jamesgphotography.co.uk/