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Bamford Clough - the steepest road in the World?

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Something odd has happened to Bamford Clough which may now make it the steepest (surfaced) road in the world. This is the road that goes direct down the hill from the corner below where the usual climbers’ parking is for Bamford crag.
 

For some reason it has been surfaced and I now notice that it has a new gradient sign at the top which states that it is 35%. Having walked it I can say with confidence that it is the steepest surfaced road I have ever encountered. The previous record holder in New Zealand appears to claim 34.8% so it could be tight - https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/news/2020/4/baldwin-street-in-new-zealand-reinstated-as-the-worlds-steepest-street-614287

The new tarmac does present a couple of questions though.

1) What kind of steam roller can do that?

2) Why would anyone want to surface a road and then state that it is unsuitable for motor vehicles?

(Our resident UKC Bamford correspondent Robby G informs me that it has something to do with local politics and off-roaders).

Alan

Post edited at 18:29

 Denning76 06 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I'm still stunned they finally did something about it after shutting it for all those years. They had one hell of a set up with portacabins etc up top when they actually did the work.

 yeti 06 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

if 4x4's are trashing your path .... tarmac it, it takes away the challenge

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

DCC's modus operandi seems to be close bridleways and byways to all users for years after they get damaged in some way, do nothing, fob off user groups asking about them, then tarmac them quickly without telling anyone! They did it to the some of the washed out bridleways between Sheffield and Coal Aston this summer. The tarmac only starts when you cross the ford at the bottom of the valley and enter Derbyshire! It looks really weird and is quite disappointing from a mountain biking/gravel biking point of view. They seem to be doing similar on the Car Road bridleway that comes down into the Caudwell Valley off the road over to Baslow a mile or so north of the Birchen/Curbar crossroad.

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I think the surfacing is sometimes explained by making it wheel chair accessible! They do often seen quite unlikely places for people to use a wheelchair though.

In reply to TobyA:

> I think the surfacing is sometimes explained by making it wheel chair accessible! They do often seen quite unlikely places for people to use a wheelchair though.

It is straight and uniform in angle. I can’t think of anything more terrifying and dangerous to push a wheelchair down, or up. I have no intention of trying it on my road bike. I expect someone will but they may strip their gears. A mountain bike should manage it though, upwards of course. Down might be fine but the road is blocked at the bottom with strange barriers to do with an overhead cable so it would be brakes on all the way.

Alan

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> 1) What kind of steam roller can do that?

Winches are used for many steep slope tasks. No idea if it would be used in your case. Useless fact - if you eat Jersey Royal potatoes those grown on the really steep slopes are, or were, harvested by tractors on winches!!

Here is an example of winches in use -  youtube.com/watch?v=tA_71OY1bKE&

Post edited at 18:59
 Denning76 06 Sep 2021
In reply to TobyA:

Don't forget the whole Rushup Edge saga too.

I emailed the council after they snuck in the crazy paving there and the rest of the brash. Their website claimed that the brash was a test area, which promptly washed away during the first bit of rainfall. The reply to my email pointing this out claimed that it was not a test area but a temporary fix for Easter that they knew was going to wash away...

Unfortunately, the County Council really cannot be trusted on such issues.

Post edited at 19:46
 felt 06 Sep 2021
 John Gresty 06 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

The green lane over Madge Hill in the southern peak used to have axle deep ruts, not very easy to traverse, even on foot, now covered in tarmac. 

John

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

It's a lot lot lot steeper than the one in New Zealand, was thinking of trying it out on the road bike if I can keep the front wheel on the floor, would make a great race stage.

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

The criteria is that it is a residential street?

Here in Hebden Bridge we have several steep ones but not 30+ eg The Lollipop at 24%

Post edited at 22:29

 Justaname 07 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Its to lessen the burden on Parkin Clough of those endless hill reps of people training for their Bob Graham

 steveriley 07 Sep 2021
In reply to Denning76:

Goodness me, they'll be claiming Bamford Clough as triumph of accessibility no doubt. I've not mountain biked there for years but I see the Rushup Edge situation is still rumbling on with crazy logic (paving) http://peakdistrictmtb.org/rushup-watch-have-dcc-strayed-off-the-beaten-track/

 Denning76 07 Sep 2021
In reply to steveriley:

Pretty certain they claimed that Rushup Edge was being done for disabled accessibility (despite the local groups saying they wouldn't really go there anyways even if it was 'improved'). Then again, the groups it was intended to benefit seemed to change on a yearly basis after those groups rubbished the claims. Happy to be corrected but pretty certain that horses and carts were mentioned at some point.

My favourite part was when they held a consultation, admitted the vast majority were opposed to the works, then tried to ignore it.

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

They have made a good job of the resurfacing with just a normal roller put some stone gutters into it which might be a pain, for a hill climb it might be a just too steep but great that it's available for walkers and hopefully the village reap some benefits.

In reply to robert-hutton:

> They have made a good job of the resurfacing with just a normal roller put some stone gutters into it which might be a pain, for a hill climb it might be a just too steep but great that it's available for walkers and hopefully the village reap some benefits.

I particularly like the rest bench halfway up. Not sure if it is dedicated to some local person, but it is on an ugly wedge plinth of concrete that really hammers home how steep the hill is. There is even a sense of exposure when sitting on the downhill end!

Unlike most of these benches, this one is most likely to be used by fit but burnt-out mountain bikers who have bitten off more than they can chew.

Alan 

 philipivan 07 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I've walked up that street in NZ, it's steep! Felt bad for the postman. 

 LJKing 07 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

The road out of Clovelly in N Devon is pretty steep and unrelenting! I normally like hill  climbs but this one was not enjoyable!

 john arran 07 Sep 2021
In reply to LJKing:

> The road out of Clovelly in N Devon is pretty steep and unrelenting! I normally like hill  climbs but this one was not enjoyable!

I presume it isn't still cobbled, like I remember from when I was a lad. After rain you had to 'edge' on the cobbles to avoid sliding back down!

 LJKing 08 Sep 2021
In reply to john arran:

We started descending a cobbled path down to the village but found a tarmacced road. Even going down we had  to drag our feet on the ground to go as slow as possible due to the steepness!

 Hutson 09 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

A couple of years ago we were camping at North Lees and it rained too much to climb one day so I plotted a circular route on the map into Bamford and back and took my climbing partner on a walk, not knowing Bamford Clough was closed. When we got there (having first had a nice lunch in Bamford) it was easy to nip round the 'closed' sign so we did, at the time it wasn't clear whether it was closed to walkers as well as motors. Getting up it in the pouring rain was a scramble rather than a hill climb, though I think I'd rather have gone up than down. Both of us found it kind of hilarious how difficult it was.

 Dominic Green 10 Sep 2021

According to veloviewer the steepest section is over 43% !! 
https://veloviewer.com/segments/18657520

In reply to Dominic Green:

> According to veloviewer the steepest section is over 43% !! https://veloviewer.com/segments/18657520

Im sure its a Strava segment too, or definitely should be. That would make some interesting challenges.

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I just remembered this from last year -  youtube.com/watch?v=trDbyQbfHKc& according to GCN, quoting the BBC, this hill in Harlech is the steepest road in the world - steeper than the one in NZ. So is Bamford Clough going to take the title from Wales?

Funnily in the vid, they use a clinometer on the steepest section and that seems to say 35 or 36 degrees, although the road sign says 40 degrees. Having stood at the top of a slope, skiing back down Jiekkivarri, that my two mates (who are both great skiers) had just linked perfect short radius jumped turns down and Dave shouts up to me "yeah - that's probably approaching 45 degrees", I can promise everyone, looking down an "approaching 45 degrees" slope is fookin' terrifying! So I'll have to ride over to Bamford sometime soon and see if looking down that fills me with equal amounts of terror, because if not I'm going to be very sceptical that it's really 45!  

In reply to TobyA:

I just walked it, the steepness is less of an issue than the ice like surface they've installed. 

As for steepest road in the world, the one in NZ reclaimed the title because although it's not as steep, it's got a steeper average, I don't think Bamford will be challenging for the title. 

In reply to TobyA:

I think you might be mixing units... 40 degree and 40% hills are not the same.

45 degrees is 100%.

36% is 20 degrees

In reply to thepodge:

You're completely right - I was being thick! Although I still find it hard to get my limited maths around the relationships between slope percentages and slope degrees. I'm in a staff room currently so just asked a colleague from maths also on a free period, and he assured me because it's not a linear relationship it's not actually particularly easy maths to convert from one to t'other!

 ChrisJD 10 Sep 2021
In reply to thepodge:

More usefully for a cyclist, 

36% = 36m vertical elevation change for every 100m horizontal distance

100% = 100m vertical elevation change for every 100m horizontal distance

 RobAJones 10 Sep 2021
In reply to thepodge:

> I think you might be mixing units... 40 degree and 40% hills are not the same.

I didn't think so, I'm more used to slopes, when ski touring, to be referred to by degree's. 45% wouldn't be a particularly steep black run, certainly not terryfying for experienced skiers. 45 degrees however is the sort of angle where some people like a rope when climbing up, some ski down effortlessly, but most of us are somewhere in between. 

In reply to RobAJones:

He was right, I was thinking a 45% road down a hill would look the same as looking down a 45 degree slope - of course the road is a much lower angle! 

I agree with your description of 45 degrees on snow though, OK going up with crampons and an axe, terrifying looking down on skis! I side slipped quite a lot and only went for that on the basis that it flattened out before going between the next rocks and steep drops!

In reply to ChrisJD:

That's a handy reference. I'm not usually one for "back in my day" but 1 in 4 or 2 in 6 etc was a far easier to understand. 

 RobAJones 10 Sep 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> He was right,

Ah, need to read things more carefully, just focused on the skiing bit

>I was thinking a 45% road down a hill would look the same as looking down a 45 degree slope - of course the road is a much lower angle!

I have seen a 45% sign on a "road" between Bolzano and Trentino, definitely for a mountain bike not road bike. Not sure but think/hope the Slab at Dalbeattie might be close to 45 degrees, for me, scary going down, no chance going up. 

> I agree with your description of 45 degrees on snow though, OK going up with crampons and an axe, terrifying looking down on skis!

Conditions make a massive difference, but it's from experience, one of our party wanted a top rope when climbing up with crampons in the morning, it had softened by the afternoon, but still impressive to see a family (including a 12 Yr old) ski down. 

Post edited at 16:01
 Myfyr Tomos 10 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Well,well. It seems we've lost our World Title then...😠

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-48992331

In reply to thepodge:

Came up with this diagram below from google search as I was trying to understand it. (credit: https://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=51483.25 which itself seems to have come from a Wikipedia source).


In reply to thepodge:

> That's a handy reference. I'm not usually one for "back in my day" but 1 in 4 or 2 in 6 etc was a far easier to understand. 


I guess it is about what you are used to but 1 in 4  = 25% , 3 in 4 = 75% seems to be exactly the same thing to me

 GrahamD 11 Sep 2021
In reply to TobyA:

The hill in Harlech lost the world 'record because the 38% gradient is only on the inside of the bend.  The tourist information banner is still at the top, though.  I think at the moment the official record is back in NZ.

In reply to TobyA:

> You're completely right - I was being thick! Although I still find it hard to get my limited maths around the relationships between slope percentages and slope degrees. I'm in a staff room currently so just asked a colleague from maths also on a free period, and he assured me because it's not a linear relationship it's not actually particularly easy maths to convert from one to t'other!

Actually, it is easy, elementary maths to convert the one to the other: the tan of the angle is the "slope", e.g., Tan 45 degrees = a slope of 1, or "1-in1", or 100%. To convert slope to angle use the inverse tan (or "arctan", or tan^-1) function. Most mobile phones have calculators that include these trigonometric functions.

In reply to John Stainforth:

> Actually, it is easy, elementary maths to convert the one to the other: the tan of the angle is the "slope", e.g., Tan 45 degrees = a slope of 1, or "1-in1", or 100%. To convert slope to angle use the inverse tan (or "arctan", or tan^-1) function. 

Yes, you've made that sound very easy and elementary! Because how difficult can something be when you need the trigonometric functions on a calculator? But well done, we now all know you are very clever.

 RobAJones 11 Sep 2021
In reply to TobyA:

> Because how difficult can something be when you need the trigonometric functions on a calculator? 

That made me laugh, although nowadays a question that needed GCSE students to use tan 45 would almost certainly be on the non calc paper. How many would get it correct? I'd guess about 15% of the cohort 

In reply to RobAJones:

> That made me laugh, although nowadays a question that needed GCSE students to use tan 45 would almost certainly be on the non calc paper. How many would get it correct? I'd guess about 15% of the cohort 

Thats a 3/20 slope of people then

I walked it again today and my mate tried riding it. He was slightly over geared so didn't quite make it but said the Beech nut shells were actually harder than the incline itself however he's now obsessed with it and says it suits him perfectly. I can see this becoming a very popular cycling hill climb... Till the cheap Derbyshire tarmac crumbles. 

In reply to John Stainforth:

> Actually, it is easy, elementary maths to convert the one to the other: the tan of the angle is the "slope", e.g., Tan 45 degrees = a slope of 1, or "1-in1", or 100%. To convert slope to angle use the inverse tan (or "arctan", or tan^-1) function. Most mobile phones have calculators that include these trigonometric functions.


Or just use the chart, that is very easy to understand, posted by Climbing Pieman at 17.17 Fri.

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

That's a shame, I recall that stretch was a moderately entertaining descent on a MTB, Derbyshire CC do seem to have a bizarre obsession with surfacing ROWs. The ruship edge thing was an absolute shitshow. 

In reply to Dominic Green:

> According to veloviewer the steepest section is over 43% !! https://veloviewer.com/segments/18657520

Measured what we thought was roughly the steepest section at the weekend and it came out using an iPhone level meter at 21degrees = 38.4%. 

We didn't think the profile of the hill corresponded very well to the 3-D graph Dominic linked to above and suspect that was created before it was surfaced. It is much more even gradient than indicated there and I would have thought that at least 100m or so is around the 38% gradient. I doubt the 43% claim also which might just have been a rough rising section before the resurfacing.

It is still officially closed although plenty of people have been walking it and the barriers are very half-hearted. Apparently, it is opening on 21 September although the sign saying 'unsuitable for motor vehicles' and 'please get off your bike or horse' at the top are permanent.

Still pretty unclear what the point of it all is!

Alan

 Denning76 13 Sep 2021
In reply to ebdon:

I can't remember who it was, but I recall it being mentioned that one of the guys in the council responsible for them said that they would tarmac every BOAT if he had his way.

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

> Still pretty unclear what the point of it all is!

Well obviously to make descending more fun when it's iced up!

In reply to TobyA:

> Yes, you've made that sound very easy and elementary! Because how difficult can something be when you need the trigonometric functions on a calculator? But well done, we now all know you are very clever.

John is absolutely right. It  is easy, like the basics of international politics. Venn diagrams, and all that.

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

I'd take that VeloViewer info with a very big pinch of salt, if the accuracy of the elevation data is anything like the tracking data then its all over the place. 

I particularly like the sign saying unsuitable for motor vehicles, followed by a quiet lane sign with pictures of horses, cyclist and cars then a sign saying cyclists and horse riders dismount, all within 50m. 

The point of resurfacing it is DCC despise off road vehicles and want to banish them, best way of doing this is to close them saying they need maintenance, leave it as long as possible then try and make it as unappealing as possible. Thing is they do this all on a low budget and within a year or two its back to being a mess / off road suitable. 


 ChrisJD 13 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Bamford Clough used to be on the Hill Climb circuit (two wheeled drive and motorbikes):

youtube.com/watch?v=3zSo8Y4ftgg&

My understanding was that Bamford Clough was closed all that time due to an exposed electric cable and disagreement about who had to pay for it to be repaired

I also heard it was a cycling challenge  - record held by a guy who made a bike for the challenge with crazy geometry so he stayed level (ish) while he pedalled up (this may be a Peak myth, lol). He was also very strong by all accounts.

Post edited at 18:50
 ChrisJD 13 Sep 2021
In reply to Denning76:

> I can't remember who it was, but I recall it being mentioned that one of the guys in the council responsible for them said that they would tarmac every BOAT if he had his way.

I think that may be attributable to a PJW at DCC ?

 Denning76 13 Sep 2021
In reply to ChrisJD:

Ah yes, that's him.

In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Veloviewer went there this lunchtime and did some measurements and found it was 36.5% at its steepest. 
 

see 100climbs on Instagram for the post

 Kalna_kaza 16 Sep 2021
In reply to Alan James - UKC and UKH:

Do you have any photos of said bench? I can't find any photos of the lane post resurfacing that show how steep it is.

In reply to Kalna_kaza:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CT5ExSHMCmO/?utm_medium=copy_link

There's some pics here but they don't do it justice. 

It's not just the maximum that is the issue, it's how it's steep all the way then gets even steeper. 

 Kalna_kaza 16 Sep 2021
In reply to thepodge:

Thanks. Looks intimidating just from those short sections!

In reply to Bjartur i Sumarhus:

I suspect the Instagram post will do a lot to attract attention to the climb.

Looking at Strava there’s already a chap who’s held more than 400w up the climb (and averaged 9km/h).

Some watt monster will surely be able to hold 600w for 3 mins? 

I can barely get up easy climbs like bushcombe lane. It looks horrendous.


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