A short note on ‘Le Col De Moss’

NOTE: Before reading, see also this forum post which is interesting.

In 1991 (if my memory serves me correctly), some friends and I took the bus from Huddersfield, where we lived at the time, and alighted at Holmfirth.  We then walked some five miles south to the summit of Holme Moss to take our seats (on a grassy bank) to watch the passing of the (then) Kellogs Tour of Britain.  I forget where the stage started but I seem to recall it might have been Derby; similarly I forget where it ended (but possibly Leeds?).

Some more pics will follow, but here is one from the time, my mate Richie Bullroyd from Rotherham fell down a nasty slope whilst lighting a Silk Cut and had to be rescued.

Richie Bullroyd on Holme Moss

Richie Bullroyd on Holme Moss

However, yesterday I passed that way (in my car, luckily, given the weather), and as I had my camera with me, I stopped off and took some shots of the hill.

Since I got back into cycling in a serious way, I have marvelled at the hill they call ‘Le Col De Moss’.  It seems to be one of the closest things to a ‘proper’ Tour-style climb that we have in this country.  With riders names spray-pained on the road surface and hordes of lycra-clad spectators calling ‘Allez!’, that day was certainly as close as I have got to a proper classic event.

The starting point - the A628 south of the Moss

The starting point - the A628 south of the Moss

So, in truly Pennine weather conditions, I started the pictures on the main Sheffield-Glossop (A628) road.  You make a sharp right turn back on yourself onto the A6024 Woodhead Road, at which point the road gets hilly.  Actually, that’s an understatement.  This climb is never anything but severe.

The base of the climb, before you get really exposed.

The base of the climb, before you get really exposed.

I have an ongoing obsession with this route – made all the more real by my trip up yesterday.  I’ve got to conquer this – it’s my own personal Mt Ventoux!

Climbing up above the treeline now

Climbing up above the treeline now

So above, you can see the part of the climb, I would estimate about 4 km along, where you are up above the trees, heavily exposed to your left hand side and subject in winter to savage crosswinds as well as uncomfortable traffic.  I saw a mountain biker going up this stretch, on the little chainring – respect!!

Approaching the summit now, round the next r/h bend!

Approaching the summit now, round the next r/h bend!

The above picture shows the point where we sat (on the bank on the right) to view the passing tour peloton.  Jimmy Saville rode past standing out of the sunroof of a team car first!!

....and finally.....

....and finally.....

The summit!!!  Prior to a descent that makes the climb seem all worthwhile.  They say that the ascent I have just documented is actually the ‘easy’ side (!!!!) and that the southbound climb from Holme is actually steeper (but I think mercifully shorter).  So while we’re up here, and the temperature here was a full 2-3 degrees colder than at the base), here’s a picture of the landmark antenna that lives on top of this lonely spot.  Apparently this can get a couple of feet of ice on it during a cold winter, I imagine that the people working in the building at the base are pretty jumpy!!

Holme Moss mast

Holme Moss mast

Ok, now all that’s left to document is a couple of shots going up the other side!  I guess you’d have top go up, come down and go up the other side to really claim you’d conquered it.

The other side, close to the summit

The other side, close to the summit

So, any comments from those of you who have ridden the col would be welcomed.  Thanks.

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