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The Ride Highlights of the Kent and East Sussex hills by bike

Distance

Elevation gain

Difficulty

Epic rating

142 km
1,720 m 
  
  

Distance

Elevation

142 km
1,720 m 

Difficulty

Epic rating

  
  

This is not an all-Surrey cycle route, but it’s one of our favourites!

You turn your back on Box Hill, and cycle south then east, through East Sussex and Kent. 

As well as some fantastic quiet roads, you’ll taste some of the toughest climbs this area has to offer, including several of Simon Warren's 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs.

Route map and profile

Route statistics

Related rides

HIGHLIGHTS

Take on the famous York’s Hill and White Lane in quick succession. They are known in the southeast as being home to hill climb races that happen on the same day in October each year. Catford CC holds theirs up York’s Hill in the morning, while Bec CC hold theirs up White Lane in the afternoon. 

  • - They’re known as the Catford and the Bec and the idea is that you race both of them.
  • - The two hill climbs are an institution; indeed Catford CC’s Hill Climb is the longest continually running bike race in history.
  • - For more information on this and other climbs, check out Simon Warren’s excellent book.

Weir Wood Reservoir and Bough Beech Reservoir are both oases of tranquillity that are home to nature reserves and bird sanctuaries. Spinning alongside on two wheels is majestic.

RIDE LOG

1. Dorking to Weir Wood Reservoir: 0-42 km

From the A25, Punchbowl Lane takes you quickly into the bumpy lanes between hedgerows and fields, through Leigh and Norwood Hill.

Skirting the sprawling outskirts of Horley is unpleasant but necessary, and once you’re over the M23 and heading south from Smallfield, the route is back on rural lanes through fields and woods.

After a short blast on the B2110, the road goes up and over Saint Hill Green and a sharp descent down to the reservoir.

2. Weir Wood Reservoir to the top of White Lane: 42-99 km

The reservoir on the river Medway is peaceful and beautiful, but after cruising around the western tip, the first real climb of the ride takes you up and eastwards towards the Ashdown Forest. The route skirts south of Forest Row, home of Sean Yates, the legendary British yellow jersey wearer and former directeur sportive.

After you head south-east from Coleman’s Hatch, you approach Kidd’s Hill, AKA The Wall. The name is apt, for this straight, steady climb through a tunnel of trees, which levels off at a T junction with the B2026.

After less than a mile along the top, you follow a long steady descent down Black Hill.

Friar’s Gate to Bough Beech Reservoir is more than 20km of stunning, classic Kent countryside, winding north in anticipation of the crux of this ride: the two main climbs.

York’s Hill is a killer at this stage of the ride, averaging 12.5% for 650m with several sections over 25%, on a road strewn with mud and gravel from the high banks alongside the road. If it’s wet or you take the wrong line, you’ll be struggling to keep going as you shift weight backwards for grip and forwards to relieve your burning quads.

It’s slightly surreal to cross inside the M25 on a small, quiet farm road. An odd juxtaposition of London’s infamous ring-road cum car park, alongside a charming rural road, flanked by fields.

The White Lane climb really starts on the B269 Titsey Hill, before testing your bike handling by turning off the main road on an 11% climb, onto the singletrack climb itself. The 600m of White Lane average more than 13%, and with over 60 miles in the tank, you’ll need to be fuelled and geared for the occasion!

3. Top of White Lane to Dorking: 99-142 km

After the brutal double-punch of York’s Hill and White Lane, you’ll be happy that you’ve broken the back of this ride.

Chalkpit Lane is a brutal climb, with one long switchback, but the suffering can wait for another day, as this time you’re going down it. The route traces back under the M25, and zig-zags south through Tandridge then west over the M23, through Salfords and you’re back south of Reigate, heading towards Dorking.

A charming home straight, with the south side of Box Hill and the North Downs looming on your right.

CAFé STOPS

26km: Copthorne Village Stores: this humble village shop stocks all usual fare for replenishing bidons and filling jersey pockets.

47km: The Wyevale Garden Centre has a pleasant tea room to get your sugar levels up before tackling Kidd’s Hill.

86km: Ide Hill Community Shop: fire yourself up for the climbs ahead at this charming and friendly coffee shop.

ACCOMMODATION

Take a look at our accommodation suggestions in our ultimate guide to Surrey cycling.

TIPS

Read our tips for cycling in the Isle of Wight before you set out  (obviously it’s a different region of the UK but the tips are very similar!). 

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(Banner photo credit: HildaWeges Photography/Shutterstock.com)

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