Distance 4.52 miles
Max Gradient around 10% for a couple of short sections, but mostly between 2-5%
Where do you find it?
This climb can be started from just beyond the bridge that crosses the River Esk after the Eskdale Inn or just before you enter Castleton itself if you’re coming from Danby. As most riders will probably approach it from the north coming down into Castleton we’ll describe it from there. The two routes converge after around 300 metres anyway at Castleton Tea Rooms. To get to Castleton you can turn right after Lockwood Beck from the A171 Moor Road, or you can make your way from Great Ayton via Kildale and Commondale.
This climb will take you up to the highest road over the moors at over 1,300 ft at the summit. It is a classic ‘long drag’ and is similar from the other side when ascending from Hutton le Hole. This side has a bit more character though and is nearer to Teesside. Starting from the bridge, the road goes up at around 8 – 10% for a short while and twists right, left, right as you enter Castleton itself. It then levels briefly until the junction, turn right here and make your way up the main road out of Castleton, probably about 6-8%, enough to get you breathing a bit. Once you leave the village and cross over the cattle grid the road turns left and heads south along Castleton Rigg. Now out of the village it is very exposed and you are now presented with a long grind and after a short almost flat section it is then continuously upwards all the way to Rosedale Head. The slope in the main is probably only around 2-5% but will really knock your speed down. It’s one of those roads where you feel you ought to be going faster, but you can’t! Enjoy the great view to your left down into Danby Dale, you’ll have plenty of time to admire it!
There is a little steep section about half way up where the road dips then rears up, this is around 10% for maybe 50 metres, then it’s back to the slight slope again. Take the advice of Sean Kelly and ‘play the waiting game’ don’t push it and eventually the summit will come just after Ralph’s Cross near the junction with the road that takes you down into Rosedale and the dreaded Chimney Bank. Here though you can press on past the Lion Inn (or into it if you prefer), head back through Westerdale or take the Rosedale Road then turn left down towards Ainthorpe via New Way. All excellent options.
Great descent this, possibly the best in the area and it makes you realise that the road is actually steeper than it appears when riding up, which is a relief! With a favourable wind 40-50 mph is easily achievable for most of the whole way down. If you’ve ever done the Castleton 50 in 4 Road Race, sorry I mean Tourist Trial, the descent down to the Tea Rooms marks the end and for that reason it’s a favourite of mine as it marks the end of the pain after the drag up from the Hutton le Hole side.
Sheep Rating (out of 5)
Great descent though it is, it is a sheep hot spot, so much so that there is now an electronic sign at the bit where it’s at its steepest and it dips leaving you potentially unsighted. For the most part though you get a good view of the little blighters so they can be avoided.
Our Ratings and Comments
- Paul- 6. On an average day, just for the sheer length really. Winds really make a difference on this climb though, a headwind could take it to a 7 or 8, a tailwind down to a 4 or 5.
- Ian – 6, maybe even 7. A long grind.
- Dave – 7. Extremely difficult into a headwind, high sheep rating!
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!