Swain's Lane UK's most popular cycling hill climb – 'but be respectful'

A cyclist taking on Swain's Lane, Highgate

A cyclist taking on Swain's Lane, Highgate - Credit: André Langlois

Swain's Lane has been named the UK's most popular cycling climb.

The road, running from Hampstead Heath, up past Highgate Cemetery and to the top of Highgate Village is about 1km in length.

The cycling equipment website Probikekit website analysed data from the Strava app for riders taking on hills included in the two volumes of 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs by Simon Warren. 

Researchers calculated how many people have climbed each hill and their total number of attempts. The climb’s popularity was then ranked by the number of attempts per person.

John Slater, chair of the Swain’s Lane Residents and Neighbourhood Watch Association, said: “It is not surprising that Swain's Lane has become so popular for cyclists.

“There has been a significant increase in cycling in recent years and the upper part of Swain's Lane is one of very few hill climbs accessible to those living in central London.”

He said riders can be a hazard for pedestrians, who do not hear them coming as they accelerate after passing the junction with Hillway.

He said there have also been complaints about the noise of cyclists shouting to each other very early in the morning.

“On the whole, the cyclists will continue to be accepted providing that they are respectful towards residents,” he said.

A cyclist taking on Swain's Lane, Highgate

A cyclist at the bottom of Swain's Lane - Credit: André Langlois

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William Britain, chair of the Highgate Society, said: “We are delighted that Swain's Lane is such a draw for enthusiastic cyclists.

“Compared to other London hill climbs such as Muswell Hill or Highgate Hill it carries relatively little traffic and no buses for most of its length.

“However, there is a conflict between cyclists and vehicle traffic, particularly where the road is narrow north of the cemetery entrance and cyclists tend to be squeezed against the cemetery wall.

“The section at the top of the hill where the road enters the heart of the village is also very narrow, has two way traffic and carries a lot of pedestrians.

“Improvement should include road markings to create a reserved area for cyclists and a redesign of the road humps.”

The London Cycling Campaign believes vehicular access to the road should be restricted.

Marketing officer Toby Zeidler said: Swain’s Lane is narrow, not always fantastically paved and accessible to through traffic.

“In our view, the best solution would be to make the road access only, given there are wider and safer options for drivers on either side.”

The street sign at the bottom of Swain's Lane

The street sign at the bottom of Swain's Lane - Credit: André Langlois