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Tour of Britain - Day 3 - North West

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Mow Cop! Photo by Dave Barter.


Cheshire Highlights

A homage to Mow Cop

Grade: 89.3km/55.5miles
Distance: Difficult
Ascent: 1,305m/4,283ft

Damn those pesky Tour of Britain route setters! Inconveniently, Tuesday's Stage 3 10-mile time trial around Knowsley Safari Park on Merseyside has no local companion in Great British Bike Rides, so we've treated you to Dave's Cheshire route a little futher south, taking in the famed climb of Mow Cop:

Cheshire Highlights overview mapGreat Britain leads the world in strange place names. Our eccentric little island has a plethora of oddly-named areas and one could spend a lifetime traversing the country and giggling at silly place names on arrival.

‘Mow Cop’ is no exception. It has to be the most strangely-named climb in the UK. Apparently, the name is derived from the nearby village of ‘Heap Hill’, which is ‘Mowell’ in Anglo-Saxon.

Not only is Mow Cop one of the more weirdly-named climbs, it’s up there in the steepness stakes too, with a particularly harsh section of 25 per cent just as you are passing the pub. Cruel temptation indeed. It sits on an escarpment that looks down over the Cheshire plains and marks the cyclist’s entry into the steep territory of the western Pennines, where a feast of hilly cycling awaits.

I always wanted to ride Mow Cop and to explore some of the other hills resident in the Macclesfield forest, but sometimes it is nice to put together a route that mixes hills with some relaxation, and that’s exactly what this route achieves. A long section west of Congleton provides untroubled, quiet riding, the sort that allows you to cogitate and iron out burning personal issues on the wheel. Then you’re up in the hills for sustained stretches of steepness, with great views back down onto the plain and across to Jodrell Bank.

There’s no doubting the fact that Mow Cop will stick in your mind for more than one reason. The climb is an utter horror story for the gravity dodgers amongst us. It starts steep and then gets steadily worse, with the fiercest gradient encountered as you gurn past the Mow Cop Inn. Don’t let the agony show though – try and convince the regulars that you’ve made it this high without trying. Any runners out there might know this hill well: at the top of the climb you’ll find a stone marking the finish of the ‘Killer Mile’, a famous local fell race.

I doubt you’ll have the roads to yourself as this is classic roadie territory, with riders making skirmishes out from the Peak or across from the Wirral in order to tick off Mow Cop and relax in the lanes. This is also footballer territory: enjoy the views of gated mansions as you wheel past because, as a cyclist, I doubt you’ll be able to afford to move into one of them.

It’s a relatively short route when compared to others within this book, but don’t let the length fool you as you have 4,300 feet to climb in its 55 miles.

Cheshire Highlights stats page.

For full route information, and details of all 40 of Dave's routes, check out Great British Bike Ridesand save 20% at checkout with offer code TOUR2013

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