The ride starts near the foot of the mythical Great Dun Fell. However, to get to the climb itself you first have to ride out of Cumbria, and into the Pennines. The route takes us over Hartside Pass, famous from The Tour of Britain and the classic Coast to Coast Route. A long climb in itself at over 7.5km at 5.3%, that is simply the warm up for the steep stuff that follows.
After we drop down into the town of Alston, we take on the fierce Killhope Cross, the 3rd highest pass in the UK. 5km over 5%, with some nasty 25% sections en route. After a fast descent into Weardale, we've packed in two smaller, butviscously steep climbs just before our feed stop and cafe stop at St John's Chapel. You'll have earned the rest by now.
After the feed stop, you're straight up the 2nd highest pass in the UK, Chapel Fell. It starts steep, backs off a little, then gets awfully steep again in the final KM. 2.5km at over 10%. After the descent to Middleton in Teesdale, we face a further steady climb over to Brough in Cumbria, before a welcome and rare 20km flat section, as we prepare for the big one.
Great Dun Fell hits us at 135km into the ride. We'vedeliberately saved the best climb to last. We rank GDF as the hardest climb in England. It might not be the steepest, but it's long, and with 25% sections, it's still a savage test. 7.4km at over 8%, on a closed road. Once you reach the 'giant golf ball' at the summit, it's all down hill to to finish line, to collect your goody bag.