Cotswold Climbs 3 – Larkstoke Hill

Larkstoke Hill

Larkstoke Hill is found just about in Warwickshire near to the village of Ilmington. There are quite a few different routes up this hill but the climb of interest takes us to the highest point in Warwickshire. It’s a popular one to tack onto sportives to destroy legs near the finish.

Larkstoke has one of those lies of the land that completely disheartens first-timers to the hill. After crawling up one slope, you’re then presented with another longer, steeper slope that’s hidden from you until you’re right on it.

YouTube video

Start of the Larkstoke Hill climb

A fairly nondescript junction is the start point and you can see the climb wind its way up past a very hopeful bench and out of sight. This first slope is steep but is just about manageable, ranging between 10-15% and can be a struggle if you go into it too quickly and use up your energy too fast. Once past the bench, you’re treated to a second steep hidden ramp (get used to these) and lots of gravel over the road.

Larkstoke Hill
The start of the climb, doesn’t look much here

Once over the rise, your eyes play tricks to make the second rise look far higher and steeper than it really is, you get a short downhill part to build up speed (don’t coast!) and really attack the bottom of this section. Sections of 11-12% make it a bit of a slog, but if you attacked the bottom here, it doesn’t last too long.

You can see the road kink to the left and it’s here where it eases off into a tired false flat slog to the real top of the hill marked by the microwave dishes. This section looks almost flat to the eye, but the Garmin maintains that you’re doing 5% climbing still. Once past the microwave dishes however, it’s a genuine flat burst until the junction.

There’s no real point where you get to experience the views on the way up, but a cheeky look over the right shoulder on the steep part after the bench shows how far you’ve come already. Another quick glimpse on the left hand kink to see your handiwork and the view behind will suffice.

My PB: 8:04 (419th out of 4863 on Strava)

Larkstoke Hill
View from the top looking West