The Devil’s Staircase: An Iconic Cycle Climb in the Heart of Wales

devil's staircase wales

In the majestic landscape of Mid-Wales, nestled amongst undulating hills and serene pastures, lies a beast known to cycling aficionados as the Devil’s Staircase. This formidable cycle climb, a shining star in the constellation of challenging terrains that Wales offers, has earned its reputation as a key test for those keen on proving their cycling mettle.

The Devil’s Staircase’s dramatic moniker mirrors its intense challenge, taking cyclists on a gruelling journey across its 1.2-mile (approximately 1.9-kilometres) length. The most daunting aspect is undoubtedly its elevation, as it catapults riders from a modest starting point to a lung-busting 1,184 feet (361 meters) above sea level.

The Devil’s Staircase has a reputation for its gradient, which averages a stern 9.8%, but what truly sets the climb apart is its sheer inconsistency. In the hardest sections, cyclists face gruelling gradients of up to 25%, a testament to the staircase-like structure that the name suggests. This combination of length, elevation, and gradient makes it one of the most challenging cycle climbs in the UK.

devil's staircase wales

The Staircase’s appearance in Simon Warren’s book, “The Cycling Climbs of Wales” puts it amongst the top climbs in the country. Also, according to 100Climbs.co.uk, a renowned site for British cycle climbs, the Devil’s Staircase has made the prestigious list of the top 100 cycling climbs in the UK.

In recent years, the Devil’s Staircase has been a key feature in several races and sportives, including the ‘Tour of the Black Mountains’ and the ‘Cambrian Coast Sportive.’ Each year, a steady stream of cyclists approach its formidable slopes, seeking to test their limits on this iconic route.

Devil’s Staircase’s place in Wales and what to see

The Devil’s Staircase, though gruelling, offers a reward worthy of the challenge. As cyclists ascend the punishing slopes, they are treated to a breathtaking panorama of the Welsh landscape. Vibrant green fields, serene forest canopies, and the sweeping vista of the Tywi Valley stretch out below, forming a stunning backdrop that eases the sting of the challenging climb. Nestled within the Cambrian Mountains, this climb truly showcases the unique beauty of the Mid-Wales region and is worth adding on to any trip to cycle Welsh cllimbs.

In terms of accessibility, the Devil’s Staircase lies close to the town of Llanwrtyd Wells, known as the smallest town in Britain, making it an ideal starting point for tackling the climb. Nearby, cyclists can also visit the Red Kite Feeding Centre at Gigrin Farm or the Elan Valley, both offering further exploration opportunities in the heart of Wales.

devil's staircase wales gradient cyclist

So, if you find yourself itching for a challenge on your cycling journey through Wales, the Devil’s Staircase awaits. Its arduous incline and wild steepness provide a relentless adversary, but with every turn of the pedal, the reward becomes apparent: stunning scenery, a sense of accomplishment, and a deep connection with the captivating Welsh landscape. Remember, it’s not just about the climb, but also the journey and this journey through the Devil’s Staircase is one every cycling enthusiast ought to undertake.

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