CYCLING HILL CLIMBS:
UK REGIONAL GUIDES
Title: Cycling Climbs – Regional and National Guides
Author: Simon Warren
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Price: £8.99 Individually £50 Boxed Set (Published October)
Simon Warren has completed his Magnum Opus on the UK's best cycling climbs. Richard Peploe has kept on his tyre track - here is is latest report. By the way, Simon has already started on other countries.
Way back in 2010 author Simon Warren started on his project to catalogue all of the significant climbs in the UK, and from there the idea developed into regional guides – as we first covered here Cycling Hill Climbs of South East England.
Once the regional/national guides started to appear, cyclists with an interest in that area who already had either of the national guides had to make a choice: should I buy the regional guide to complete the picture, in which case I have to accept that a significant proportion of the climbs will be repeats from the original guides?
As the last of the individual regional guides appears, every cyclist with an interest in climbs (and indeed books about climbs) can now experience that dilemma – and that is not the end of the choices.
The format of the books has remained the same throughout, and whilst some might occasionally want to question the inclusion or exclusion of a particular climb, or the ‘rating out of 10’ given to each, you won’t find a more comprehensive catalogue of British cycling-friendly climbs anywhere – or maybe that should be cycling-unfriendly climbs, depending on your point of view.
The regional guides have always suffered from being relatively poor value compared to the original books, because for the same price as the original ‘100s’ you won’t receive nearly as many pages. It is also worth noting that in some cases the area covered may not be exactly what you would expect, so might need clarification if you want coverage of a particular area.
‘Scotland’ was the 6th guide to appear, and there is no ambiguity about the territory covered there. I was surprised to find that there were only 60 climbs that merited inclusion, but not surprised to see how widely spread they were across the whole country.
Next up was the ‘North-East’, covering Teesside, County Durham, and Northumberland. Warren accepts that the area had been “somewhat overlooked” in his previous books, but with only 50 climbs included cyclists in the area might still feel a little short-changed. On the positive side, the area is compact enough for Warren to be able to suggest a “relatively short yet challenging” 74 kilometre circular route that takes in six worthwhile climbs.
The final and eighth guide to appear was the ‘North-West’, covering Cumbria, Lancashire, Liverpool & Manchester, and Cheshire; given that it covers the Lake District, Warren wanted to “save the best until last”. The good news is that the number of climbs is back up to 75 for this volume, with more new ones than any other regional guide (at 43); the bad news is that the looped route that Warren suggests is actually the notoriously arduous Fred Whitton Challenge.
Perhaps it is not surprising that as Christmas approaches information-hungry cyclists are to be presented with another dilemma, as a box-set of all eight regional guides is due to appear on October 19th. At £50 the price represents a significant saving over the £71.92 that it would cost to buy each regional guide individually: an attractive proposition if you are about to start building the complete set, but of little comfort to anyone whose collection is already well underway.
More information about the box-set can be found here , along with some options to order in advance: might be worth dropping some hints if you want to suggest an alternative to receiving more socks from Santa.
So is that it for the ‘Cycling Climbs’ books? It may be for the UK, but as we have seen Warren has already made a start on Europe, initially focussed on climbs that are used by professional cyclists for racing and/or training. There are many more countries to tempt him, so this series could have plenty of life left in it yet!