Distance 1.2 miles
Max Gradient 8%
Where do you find it?
Take the B1257 signposted Great Broughton/Helmsley at the roundabout near Stokesley. The climb starts about a mile after going through Great Broughton.
This is a really well known climb among local cyclists and is probably one of the most climbed hills in the area. Clay Bank is a pass which links the popular flatter ground around Stokesley and Great Ayton to Bilsdale and the western side of the North York Moors, it also offers a longer (but easier) way to the top of Carlton Bank and a sharp exciting descent via the Westwood Farm route covered in climb no.7 on the site. Accessibility and flexibility is its key. It is also quite a picturesque climb as it gradually winds its way gently though the wooded hillside with the impressive Wainstones looming above you to the right.
It starts with a small ramp, then levels briefly before rising again to around 8% (there used to be a sign stating the gradient until a few years ago). The gradient now remains more or less constant which is good in terms of finding a rhythm but if you’re not feeling so good there is no real respite until you reach the top. Eventually, as thankfully they always do, the summit comes into view just after the car park which is on your left.
The surface is good, if a little heavy and as a descent it is one of the best in the area, one where you can just let the brakes off, not worry about junctions or sharp bends and just concentrate on picking a smooth line and getting aero. In fact it is quite easy to maintain this all the way to Great Broughton with minimal pedalling effort. The heavy surface which seems to drag a little against your tyres on the ascent gives reassuring grip while going down.
The view from the car park at the top across the valley is worth a short detour on a clear day.
Our Ratings and Comments:
- Paul – 5. ‘I always find it harder than I think it should be. I’ve climbed this more times than I can remember yet it is a climb that I just don’t get on with. I don’t know if its 8% gradient is something that doesn’t suite me or if it is the heavy surface or what, but I always feel that I should find it easier’.
- Dave – 6. ‘Its always been a tester of a climb, the fitter you are the faster you go up and thus the difficulty remains the same, I’ve rated it high because it’s one of the core training hills in the area and I’ve had many epic battles up Clay with friends/enemies!’
- Steve – 6.5. ‘I’ve climbed it hundreds of times and I grovel every single time! Seems to go on longer than I remember everytime as well’.
- Ian – 4. ‘I find the bottom section of Clay Bank to be the area where I struggle, too fast there can cook you but after the initial steep section around the right hand bend, as long as pace is kept steady I find the rest can be tackled at a much higher tempo, the continuous drag allows for a good rhythm to be kept, with no aggressive hairpins or severe increases in gradient I would only give it 4’.
- John – 6. ‘I’ve done Clay Bank many times and even though it’s not too hard it’s always a slog and after a while I find myself looking for the sign to the car park. I think I would give it a six’.
Note the ratings are :-
- Where’s the slope?
- No problem
- Big ring
- Spinning a gear
- It’s a difficult one (a homage to Sean Kelly)
- Light up all the boilers!
- Handlebar snapper
- Licking the front wheel
- Dinner plate required
- Fetch a nurse!