Porlock Hill – it’s a bit steep


Porlock Hill – very pretty but the ‘Gradient 1 in 4 uphill’ might be taken as a bit of a warning. Perhaps both caravans and cycles should be directed to the Toll Road

Just back from a couple of days in Porlock (North Somerset) with friends who have a holiday home in the village. It was a great trip and a delightful village in a lovely area – but our friends know I like to point the front wheel uphill … and Porlock Hill that leads out of the village West towards Lynmouth is a famous climb in the UK. Apparently it’s number 4 in Simon Warren’s ‘100 Greatest Cycle Climbs’ (a UK book).

There are two routes that can be taken. The main road is the steepest ‘A’ road in England – listed as 1.6 miles (a bit over 2.5km) and climbing 998ft (304 metres) at an average 12%. Sadly, that doesn’t tell the whole story as there are ramps on the lower slope at 25%, as highlighted by the signs at the top and bottom.

The other route is by the old Toll Road which climbs almost exactly the same distance but takes a more leisurely 4.2 miles to do it (about 6.76 km).

There is a famous annual hill climb up the hill – I think both routes have been used.

It is quite possible that deciding to climb the hill by both routes for my second ride outdoors since early November was a bad idea – but I’d taken the bike and rather felt that I’d be letting our friends down if I didn’t have a go. So, Friday afternoon I set off, choosing the harder one first.

It’s hard to describe the climb as I spent pretty much the whole of the first half with my head down and sweat in my eyes. I think it’s fair to say that it is simply brutal. I had expected that the 25% bits were just on the inside of the hairpins but I’m not sure they were limited to that. My Strava trace certainly shows over 28% at one point and it felt every bit of that.

I’d checked where the Strava segment started but not where it finished so I carried on to climb 400m (1312 feet), just to enjoy the misery for longer. As it was, 5% faster would have put me in the Strava top half for the climb – which is OK for a 62 year old with so few miles in his legs (and some extra pounds round his waist) in March. We’ve been invited back later in the summer so I can try again!


I decided to come down the Toll Road as the main road is very narrow and was a bit damp. The Toll Road is really lovely (even on a cloudy and blustery day) with views over the Severn Estuary (or perhaps it’s the Bristol Channel at that point?).


Looking up the estuary/channel towards Cardiff and Bristol


South Wales in the distance – there’s a faint rainbow over the water in the middle of the picture but the camera on the phone didn’t capture it well

Once at the bottom, I turned round and went back up the Toll Road which was delightful, with a maximum 8% gradient which felt relatively easy after the earlier crawl up the main road.

It’s not often that I ride only a little over 27 km (16.8 miles) and climb 799 meters (2612 feet) the UK.


We also had a walk on Thursday – Dunkery Beacon is the highest point in Exmoor. Not sure if the Exmoor pony lurking in the background knew that

3 thoughts on “Porlock Hill – it’s a bit steep

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