Vigo Hill

 Date climbed  29th October 2013
 Elevation gain  244 feet
 Length  0.39 mile
 Duration  4.5 minutes

This hill is so steep that, even in a car, it is scary going down. In fact most drivers seem to take it quite slowly. I have only included figures here for Vigo Hill itself. Before you reach the beginning of the Vigo Hill bit, you have already climbed a comparatively easy 270 feet in 1.3 miles along Taylors Lane.

Vigo Hill

You can just see the bridge here and you can see that the gradient eases after the bridge because the white car is below the ‘horizon’

The sign at the bottom states 1:6, which is just under 17%, but the section just before you go under the bridge is at least 19% by all my calculations. If you believe the accuracy of the contour lines on the ordnance survey 1:25000 map, then it measures 25%! Whatever the true figure is, this hill ‘looks’ really steep, compared with, say, Lockyer’s Hill which doesn’t look that steep and yet is 25%. And I found riding up Vigo very very tough, much more so than Lockyer’s.

I climbed it on this ride, and I felt sick with the exertion, but that may have been due to other circumstances. I can’t wait to try it again to see how I do next time.

Vigo profile




Lockyers Hill

 Date climbed  26th August 2013
 Elevation gain  193 feet
 Length  0.3 mile
 Duration  3.4 minutes

I first heard about this hill whilst on a club run. It was described as one of the few ‘double-chevron’ hills in the area. Lockers Hill OSThe double chevron symbol on an ordnance survey map indicates a gradient steeper than 20%. In this case it’s 25%!

It’s one of those hills that has trees and woods on each side. As you struggle to climb it there are no visual clues as to the severity of the gradient. The absence of any man-made verticals, like gate posts or brick walls, combined with the lack of long-range view makes it almost impossible to get any sense of how steep the incline might be. Your legs will let you know though! Standing on the pedals in your lowest gear, putting loads of effort in and going virtually nowhere fast are all the signs you need to tell you that it’s ‘kin steep. Like all good hills, this one gets steeper and steeper. And, as if you don’t already have enough to concentrate on as you grind your way up, the surface isn’t very good either, so you have to spend effort dodging the potholes and staying off the gravel.

And now for the good news: it only lasts three and a half minutes or less!


I climbed this hill during this ride. Although Lockyers is steeper at 25%, it didn’t feel as tough as Cob Lane, a mere 20%, which still holds top spot for the toughest hill I have yet encountered.

White Hill

This route was planned with the sole purpose of riding up White Hill. Someone on a club run had mentioned it and I had made a note to do it one day. And that day was today. As usual, of late, the weather was warm and sunny. I planned a 54-mile route that took in quite a lot of unknown territory.

The first 18 miles or so were covered at 16mph. There were some nice lanes around Charing, just keeping to the South of the Downs. After 23 miles I came to a lovely lake, Eastwell Lake.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALess than a mile past the lake my progress came to an abrupt halt when I was confronted with this:

gateDamn! Again I had failed to check if all of the route was on public roads. But again I figured that the route-planning software wouldn’t direct me across private land, so I once more assumed that there was some sort of right-of-way.



I looked for a way around this road blockage and noticed, a little further back from the gate, a footpath sign. This led me past some sort of old tower or something.

Through one of those anti-bike type gates and across a rough field I came to another bike-unfriendly gate. This one was too small to manoeuvre through, so I just lifted my bike over the gate next to it.


and found myself on a smooth tarmac road



After about a mile of this I came to learn where I actually was, by virtue of this sign


Another interesting ‘off-road’ excursion comes to an end.

About a mile and a half later I arrived at the goal of this journey, namely White Hill. As it turned out, it wasn’t too bad a hill. It’s quite long at 1.6 miles, over which it rises about 450 feet, but I managed nearly all of it in 3rd gear, so it was hardly challenging. But the view from the top was worth it.


The next seven miles consisted of some beautiful roads across the top of the Downs before dropping down again through Lenham Heath and Grafty Green, after which I climbed Ulcombe Hill to the Greensand Ridge for the next four miles before dropping down again into the Vale of Kent. I included a bit of a twist in the tail of this journey in the shape of Westerhill Road, whose 17% gradient I just had enough energy left to climb.