A Compendium of High Roads and Road Passes in Great Britain.
Highest Roads. (approaching 9.5mb file size).
Some years ago a colleague gave me a rough photocopy of a page from a 1950s National Cycling Union handbook, listing ‘the highest roads in Britain open to wheeled vehicles.’ It struck me straight away that the list was not complete from my own, and mostly local, knowledge.
Over the years I have gathered information from a variety of sources and people and have assembled a ‘Compendium’ of 182 public roads that are either over 1,400 feet in elevation, or are lower but are ‘proper’ road passes. This listing does not include high bridleways (which are open to pedal bicycles) that are simply ‘tracks’ (the criteria for inclusion are in the Compendium) but since the commencement of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, some of the ‘proper roads’ listed have, or may have, lost their public rights for mechanically propelled vehicles. I have tried to reflect this in the text, but if in doubt, check with the highway authority before using any route with an MPV. For most, of course, it is obvious ... they are roads.
The carbon footprint of this exercise has been low. Some routes local to me have been visited for general bicycling, motorcycling, or walking recreation, while for far-flung examples I have visited them either on holiday (spending money in the British rural economy), or when in the area anyway for work purposes.
I expect that I have missed routes that merit inclusion. The Compendium is made in such a way that pages can easily be inserted and the numbering sequence shifted. Photographs to fill the gaps are also welcomed. Just for the record, I made this list way back around Christmas 2007.
I now have a collection of picture postcards of road passes in Great Britain. These are in a Dropbox gallery and can be viewed via this link: Postcards of Passes.
Climbing steep hills was a feature of many early motor and motor cycle trials events. Motor trials test hills is a listing of classic ‘test hills’ from an early motoring magazine. I have no knowledge as to whether all were or are still public roads.
This is a link to an advert in a 1927 copy of The Motor, featuring the Bwlch-y-Groes
hill climb, near Bala.
This is a link to Hill Path Contours
by Harry Inglis. It is a brilliant little book, which packs a lot of information into a few words and diagrams.