Cragg Vale-Blackstone Edge loop, South Pennines by Lynette Evans

Cragg Vale-Blackstone Edge loop, South Pennines by Lynette Evans

Lynette Evans

Cycling UK's West Yorkshire & Greater Manchester Cycling Development Officer Lynette Evans shows us round her favourite road ride from home in Mytholmroyd.

This ride blows the cobwebs away, is a good workout and brings a sense of achievement. It takes you up Cragg Vale, which proudly claims to be the longest continuous gradient in England with 968 feet of climbing in 5.5 miles. It is not steep, just a classic long drag — a climb with an average gradient of just over 3%. The Tour de France Grand Départ in 2014 followed this route and it was decked with bunting its full length, winning a Guinness World Record in the process.

I like it because it’s very doable, good for building fitness and takes you from the level of River Calder through woodland and out onto Pennine moorland with expansive views. The descent is via Blackstone Edge, which in a poll taken by Sir Chris Hoy was voted one of the 10 best descents in the UK

At the bottom a right turn onto Todmorden Road takes you to Summit. This refers to the Summit of the Rochdale Canal in the Pennines — eastwards it falls down the Calder Valley towards Todmorden and westwards drops to Rochdale and ultimately Manchester. Cycling on the canal towpath is a great alternative to the A-roads if you have a hybrid bike.

The return to Mytholmroyd (birthplace of Ted Hughes, poet) is via Todmorden and Hebden Bridge. The roads are busy but frequented by lots of sport road cyclists so local people should be used to seeing riders on the road.


At the top of Cragg Vale at the junction with Halifax Rd there will often be a Royd Ices ice-cream van. 

The Whitehouse Pub is a great place to eat and drink as is The Summit Inn. There are cafés galore in Hebden Bridge. If you chose the Rochdale Canal route then The Bicycle Den café is directly alongside the canal in Hebden Bridge.

The weather can change quite quickly in the Pennines so take a waterproof. Even if it’s dry, it might help take the chill off as you swoop down towards Littleborough.

You’ll get a friendly welcome at Blazing Saddles bike shop in Hebden Bridge, so just call in to say 'hi' even if you don’t need any bike fettling!  

Level of ride 
Regular cyclist
Type of bike 
Road bike