Sunday, 19 April 2015

The British

In hushed tones they said it. "And we came back over The British".

No more needed to be said: it had been a hard ride.

That was 20 years ago. Rarely do I hear people speak of it.

Where's The British, I ask. Blank looks is their reply.

Unloved and overshadowed by its near neighbour The Tumble.

But is The British one of the best climbs in South Wales? Best? Unique, for sure.

The British

Literally rising from the ashes of an industrial age, a 2km long 10% incline on to the moors above Abertillery. A road both from and to hell, perhaps.

Relics of heavy industry  litter the start: collieries, ironworks, quarries, chimneys, derelict houses. There's some great photos here.

Like its industrial heritage, the road is in a bad state, overgrown, crumbling and difficult to find.

Unmarked and unrevered on Strava (its actually called "the Bungalows" climb).

The exposed summit is at 475m, almost as high as the Tumble, and followed by a long exposed stretch across the moor, usually battered by the prevailing wind.

Today though, its blowing the East, but the climb is no easier. And the descent to Aberbeeg through St Illtyd presents its just as horrendous - parts are taken slower than the climb.

Here's a film of the climb. You might be able to see the road surface, and appreciate the steepness. What you can't quite appreciate is the grimness of the valley to the left, littered with the spoil of heavy industry, its like returning to the 1970s. Maybe not the best climb, but certainly one of the most interesting.