Monday, 6 September 2010

The hills are alive

Bone idle: Skeleton Hill in the Chilterns
might not make the list
Alive with all sorts of history. Of culture. Of tradition. And above all, of inclines that will sap muscles, strain sinews and possibly force confused lungs up through windpipes to see if this new perspective can help them work out what's going on for themselves.

There are hundreds of the things dotted about all over the place. Formed by glacial movements, ancient collisions of tectonic plates and even huge human excavations, hills have defined the British countryside by their beauty, stature and the views afforded by them once you've made the effort to scale them.

And having had a crack at a fair few in the last year or so while training for the Marmotte, I've decided my next challenge is to climb 100 of them in the south east of England in the next year. By bike.

It's taken just over a month to compile the list, which I realise is the easy bit. It's by no means a comprehensive one. Doubtless there will be some obvious omissions that I'm happy for people to point out in the comments section.

But these are the ones I've chosen. The criteria were that they are in the south east, so south of Watford Gap and east of the Solent. I know there are more impressive and challenging hills available in Wales, the north west, Yorkshire, the Peak District, Scotland and Cornwall. But all these places are too far away, so I'm not even going to try. Besides, someone's already listed the 100 best climbs by bike in the UK, so if that's what you want, buy that instead.

Other criteria were that they were around 100 metres or so in height gain, were conspicuous in some way, had a good pub nearby or had a daft enough name that it appealed. I've been helped in putting the list together by some kind people on the Bikeradar website and the Kent Cycling Association, so huge thanks to them for their assistance. They'll be credited as I go along.

Just got to pluck up the motivation to get started now, especially as the weather's on the turn. Time to head to the Downs for the first of the ups.