Sunday, 24 April 2011

Hill No 3 - 39 The Burway, Church Stretton

I must confess, I was facing the Burway with a little trepidation. Simon Warren gives it a big 9/10 for difficulty and I remember climbing it from the other side very well on my JOGLE. On that day, Alex who I was riding with (and who was a strong rider) dismounted it with the words "not today" and it took every ounce of energy I had to get up it. Also known as the Longmynd, you can see the hill looming over Church Stretton, dominating the skyline - it is truly beautiful (but probably best appreciated from the top rather than the bottom!)

I had warmed up my legs on the 20 mile ride over from Ironbridge and the rolling Shropshire hills - some of the riding was beautiful and going though Much Wenlock and other villages was lovely (and a word for the incredibly courteous drivers - seriously, everyone gave me loads of room in passing, thank you - perhaps they knew what I was soon to be up against!)

As you ride through Church Stretton, you kind of cross 2 roads and then head up the hill - it is really beautiful stuff, but you do see various signs warning you of the fact that it is a single track road and is going to be incredibly steep!

They're not joking either - you hit a cattle grid and all of a sudden it is real out of the saddle, lowest gear, heart pumping stuff.

You can see it on the Garmin here: from about mile 19 - to mile 22 and if you look at the elevation curve you can see just how steep it is. The thing that got me was the fact that you look left into the valley and suddenly you realise just how high you have got in a short period of time!

Unlike Jiggers Bank - this is a PROPERLY beautiful climb - I passed a few cars coming the other way with the occupants shaking their heads at me (mouthing the word "nutter" no doubt!), the road is single track, but in pretty good nick. The other thing is that you aren't really sure where the climb ends and every time you get over one "peak", there seems to be another there. Lovely, incredible and very hard work.

Once I got to the top - there was the mere matter of getting down again. It sounds funny - but I remember this as being almost as difficult as the ascent. Basically, it started to rain which got my bike wheels/pads a bit wet and affected braking slightly. If you sit in the saddle and brake hard, you feel as though you are too far forward, so you need to sit right back on the bike with your bum hanging over the back of the saddle and squeezing the brakes all the way. It is a bit fraught as it is quite slippery and your hands start to ache after a while - goodness knows how the pros do it on long alpine descents. Presumably they just never brake!

A nice gentle ride back to Ragdon Manor warmed down my legs nicely - a lovely climb and a lovely day.

Youtube footage here: - as an experiment, I have uploaded it at 2x speed - so you don't have to hear the raggy breathing - take my word for it - it was hard work!

Lots of photos here:


  1. Thanks for the mention...

    Let me know when you plan to hit some more hills I'm keen to hurt the legs again!

  2. A bit late now you have left Shropshire but you missed the Asterton Bank climb on the other side of the Long Mynd. I've climbed Mow Cop and if that is a 9/10 then Asterton Bank is 11/10!