East Yorkshire Area Hill Climbs: Painsthorpe Lane Climb

Location: Painsthorpe Lane Climb
Length: 1.55km
Height Gain: 124m
Average Gradient: 8%
Max. Gradient: 17%
Difficulty Score: 42
Table Position: =11th

Date of Attempt: 4th July 2013


Painsthorpe is a wonderful name for a hill climb, it’s unnerving at best, however it suffers from it’s location, sharing a ridge with the tougher climbs at Uncleby and Hanging Grimston.

The climb begins in the pretty northern Yorkshire Wolds village of Kirby Underdale and meanders past the hamlet of Painsthorpe and up to the ridge adjoining Roman Road, overlooking Thixendale in East Yorkshire.

The hill, according to the segment on Strava, begins as you cycle out of Kirby Underdale, making the climb just about 1 mile in length, so nothing too long, but at an average gradient of 8%, peaking at a maximum gradient of 17%, it’s never going to be an easy climb.

Like many of these hill climbs, Painsthorpe isn’t a climb I’ve attempted before, as it’s a bit out of the way for me, but on a barmy 4th July 2013 I met up with two cycling chums at Fimber and we set off on a 20 mile circular route which would take in over 2000ft of climbing, so here’s how I got on at Painsthorpe Lane…

It’s a hot summer evening, at least 25 degrees, I’ve already tackled a couple of tough climbs, so my legs are shot, to make matters worse, I’ve just descended Hanging Grimston, so my nerves are frayed too. We are heading home and the only way back is up hill, so Painsthorpe offers the path of least resistance.

Cycling into the pretty village of Kirby Underdale we slowly start to feel the ground rise under our tyres, passing the cemetery on the exit to the village the gradient begins and the climb starts in earnest. One of our number, Elmo, a strong climbing mountain biker, starts to pull away, but me and Marvin stick together, we know our limits and there is no point over cooking in this weather.

The route is lined with hawthorne hedges and trees, luckily these offer some shade, but by now I’m in a low gear and beginning to mash, the road isn’t too steep, not yet, but I’m struggling to keep up. The gradient keeps a steady 8% as the road follows the contours and twists to the right before straightening up again.

Although it’s early days my legs have gone and I’m dreaming of fish & chips in Wetwang, but that will have to wait, I’ve not hit the hard bit yet. It’s not long before the road steepens further, in the distance I see Elmo disappear past the hamlet of Painsthorpe, the road turns left into a copse and the gradient lifts to what turns out to be 17%…ouch!

Swigging down some of my energy drink, I begin to lose my cycling partner Marvin, who digs in and moves past me on my right…I’m really struggling at this point, but he proves to be the carrot to keep going and I somehow find enough energy to get over this tough segment, which seemed like miles but probably only lasted for 200 metres, if that.

Gathering myself, as the road straightens up I begin to haul back both Marvin and Elmo, but it’s only temporary, as they both accelerate away as the gradient lessens to between 5 and 10%, I just don’t have then energy to keep up. This gradient continues for a good half mile, the road keeps quite straight and between my panting and expletives, I realise that this really is quite a picturesque climb in a pretty part of the wolds.

After what felt like an eternity, I reach what I think must be the top of the climb, the road levels out and momentarily drops down hill, exhausted I manage to get enough momentum to catch up with Marvin on the small decent. However, I soon realise that this was a false dawn, the road once again sharply kicks up, only for a few yards, but enough for me to lose the momentum I had mustered and I begin treading water again.

The final short section to Roman Road is managed on willpower alone, I am truly spent when I finally reach the summit, hot, sweaty and knackered, but pleased to have chalked another of Roger England’s climbs off my list.

Painsthorpe Lane has been a tough climb, no doubt about that, however I have to take into account I already had 15 miles of difficult terrain in my legs, so on another day I might feel different. The hill is typical of other Wolds in that the harder gradient is toward the bottom and the road steadily levels towards the top.

It is certainly a climb I’d like to do again, firstly because it’s in a beautiful part of the world, but also to see how I’d perform when less tired and on a cooler day. It goes without saying that this climb comes highly recommended and if you are ever in the area give it a go.

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