Scarth Nick

Distance 0.7 miles

Max Gradient 20 % (according to the sign)

Where do you find it?

Follow the A172 from Stokesley heading in a south westerly direction. About five miles from Stokesley take the left turn signposted for Swainby and then head up through the village in a southerly direction.


A popular and well known local climb which I’ve done many times but it never gets any easier. The road actually starts to rise as you leave Swainby at the junction with the Scugdale Road. You could measure the climb from here I suppose which would make it 1.6 miles in length but once the road veers right there is a significant amount of flat allowing for a full recovery. The consensus was that the climb really starts in anger once the road swoops left at the end of this flat bit, then right just before the 20% sign – enough to strike fear into many a cyclist’s heart. It is advisable to go down the gears now as soon the road ramps up and you have to negotiate a steep left hand bend followed by an equally steep right hander making down changes risky. Although not quite hairpins these corners are tight and are probably closer to 25% than 20%. They are certainly a test especially if traffic coming downwards restricts your line meaning you have to go up the inside of the first corner.

The climb continues on quite steeply after the corners and is too long for most cyclists to attack it. At the top of this bit you reach a cattle grid and about 10 metres of flat, enjoy it! It might be tempting to stop for a rest here but on you must go as it drags on for a good while after this which delays your opportunity for recovery, especially if the wind is coming down from the moor. Stay with it and eventually you’ll crest the top and from here is a lovely gentle descent to local beauty spot of Sheepwash and Cod Beck reservoir complete with ice cream van if you’re lucky. According to John’s Garmin the road tops out at 735 ft showing a height gain of around 400 feet. The road surface isn’t too bad but is a bit pot holed and gravelly on the corners which you need to bear in mind if you decide to descend it once you’ve got to the top.


The start of the climb
The start of the climb
Cyclists struggle towards the first of the steep corners
Cyclists struggle towards the first of the steep corners
The final section after the cattle grid, the worst of it is over but it drags on for a while yet
The final section after the cattle grid, the worst of it is over but it drags on for a while yet


Our Ratings and Comments:

  • Paul – 7,  ‘Easier if you take it steady to start with’
  • Steve – 8,  ‘A bitch’
  • John – 8,  ‘I must get that compact chainset!’

Note the ratings are :-

  1. Where’s the slope?
  2. No problem
  3. Big ring
  4. Spinning a gear
  5. It’s a difficult one (a homage to Sean Kelly)
  6. Light up all the boilers!
  7. Handlebar snapper
  8. Licking the front wheel
  9. Dinner plate required
  10. Fetch a nurse!

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