Are you searching for in-depth information on the Prudential RideLondon route and, in particular, the hills?!

If so, this is for you.

In this article we look at the three toughest hills on the Ride 100 route profile: what they’re like and what you can expect.

Note: in November 2021, the organisers of RideLondon announced the RideLondon route would be moving from Surrey to Essex. This article is about the route when it went through Surrey, before 2021. 

RideLondon 100 GPX route

A few points to note:

  • We can’t guarantee this RideWithGPS route is exactly the same as this year’s route.
  • Don’t follow it blindly – rules on one way systems/car tunnels etc are different when roads aren’t closed…

Hill 1: Newlands Corner

(The Easiest Hill)

The official map marks this as a 5% climb, and our RideWithGPS stats say it’s got an 8% maximum gradient.

The climb comes at around 45 miles in on a wide road that’s got a good surface. The gradients are steady without any really nasty kick-ups or surprises.

There are some lovely views from the top of Newlands Corner, though you’ll only get a momentary glimpse of them if you’re riding on through; a few seconds later they’re gone as you descend down towards Abinger Hammer.

Cycling Newlands Corner, Prudential RideLondon routeThe road up to Newlands Corner
Summit of Newlands Corner on the Prudential Ride London 100 routeThe summit of Newlands Corner

Want a different challenge in Surrey?! Check out our favourite rides in our free guide to cycling the Surrey Hills.

Hill 2: Leith Hill

(The Hardest Hill)

This is the most difficult of the main three climbs.

It comes at around 55 miles and takes you up Leith Hill, which is the highest point in the south-east, at a grand 294 metre above sea level.

The official map marks it as a 7% climb and our RideWithGPS stats show a maximum gradient of 10%.

Leith Hill climb on Prudential RideLondon route 2018Easier gradients at the start of the Leith Hill climb
Approaching Leith Hill Place on Prudential RideLondon 100 routeThe road ramps up before you hit Leith Hill Place

Most of the climb is thinly wooded, so don’t expect much by the way of views. The road is also quite narrow the whole way up.

The gradients start out relatively gently, but soon ramp up and the road is pretty steep as you come to the beautiful, long, red-brick wall of the National Trust’s Leith Hill Place. You follow the wall for a few hundred metres climbing ever-upwards on high-sided, green banked roads.

You meet the intersection of three roads that form a triangle and the Leith Hill climb flattens out a bit. However soon after the intersection there’s a final kick in the slope for the last 500m or so – so be prepared!

Road past Leith Hill Place on Leith Hill climb Prudential RideLondon 100Passing the entrance to Leith Hill Place on Prudential Ride London 100 route
Climbing Leith Hill on Prudential Ride London 100 routeWatch out for the last kick in the climb, after the intersection!

Simon Warren’s excellent 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs gives Leith Hill a 6 out of 10 rating (where 1 is hard and 10 is “it’s all you can do to keep your bike moving”).

Ridden Leith Hill and want more hills like it?! Check out our Surrey Hills ride guide!

Hill 3: Box Hill

(The most famous and pretty hill)

Box Hill is easily the best-known climb in the south-east. That fame is at least partly due to its prestigious role in the 2012 Olympic road race. However, it’s also one of the only hills with switchbacks, the views are sublime and there is a very convenient National Trust café that serves big chunks of cake at the top.

So there are lots of reasons that Box Hill is famous – but being very hard isn’t one of them.

The official map marks it as a 5% climb and our RideWithGPS stats show a maximum gradient of 12%.

Climbing Box Hill: first hairpin bendFirst hairpin bend going up Box Hill
Cycling Box Hill - second hairpin bendSecond hairpin bend, in the trees

The climb starts under a tunnel of trees, but soon opens out to the right-hand-side as you round a hairpin and you can see the steep slope rising upwards. Luckily you’re not heading straight up that – but instead follow the hill around, on to a forested hairpin which comes about halfway up the climb. That first, long straight can feel pretty leg-sapping.

Soon you’re round the second switchback and out of the trees again. Here there are more spectacular views across the valley.

Views back across the valley, halfway up Box Hill by bikeViews across the valley after the secondhairpin bend
Approaching the final hairpin bend, in the trees on Box HillApproaching the final hairpin

There’s one more forested hairpin and then you’re passing (or stopping at!) the café and viewpoint at the top (see the banner photo).

While the stats are relatively harmless, remember you’ll be hitting Box Hill with 65 miles in your legs. It’s also worth knowing that the climb doesn’t really finish at the café or viewpoint – it rises all the way through Box Hill Village (though at a lesser gradient)…

In better news, thanks to the 2012 road race, the surface is excellent and the road is also relatively wide. Gradients remain relatively steady so it’s possible to maintain a rhythm.

Simon Warren’s 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs gives Box Hill a 3 out of 10 rating (details of the ratings are mentioned above, and, just in case you’re wondering, Newlands Corner doesn’t feature in the book!).

Inspired to ride Box Hill? Check out our Box Hill loop for a ride that’s much better than RideLondon!

Honourable mention: Wimbledon Hill

Before we finish, it feels right to give an honourable mention to Wimbledon Hill. The steep section is only around 400 metres long, but an average 5.5% gradient is going to feel hard work after 90 or so miles! Worth saving something in the tank to get up and over this at the end of the day.

And finally – good luck! Enjoy and stay safe!

Like to do some more cycling in Surrey?

We live in the Surrey Hills, and we love it. Check out our guide to cycling in the Surrey Hills including our GPX route files, guides, information on bike hire and when to ride.

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Clare Dewey

Clare Dewey is a cyclist with a passion for travel. She set up in 2018 to help make it easy for cyclists to explore the world by bike. Today her mission is still inspiring cyclists to discover new places on two wheels – and doing what she can to make sure they have the best possible time while they’re there. Clare has visited 50+ destinations around the world, many of them by bike.

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4 Responses to “How hard is the Prudential RideLondon 100 route?
(A sneak peak at three of the toughest hills)”

  1. I didn’t get to do Leith on my RSL ride. It is often closed during the event due to accidents/weather/emergency service access for people having heart attacks. I’ll have to find a way to go up on a solo long ride.

    • It’s a relatively tough climb but, depending what your usual riding terrain is like, we wouldn’t say it’s particularly spectacular or out of the ordinary… If you’re in the area, check it out and perhaps that will help you finish the unfinished business you have there?!

    • 2015? I had the same thing, some poor soul got ill so we never did Leith. Box Hill was nice, but hardly testing. How does Leith compare to my local Chiltern horrors like Whiteleaf?

      • We haven’t ridden Whiteleaf, but looking at Simon Warren’s Cycling Climbs of SE England, both Whiteleaf and Leith are rated as 6/10 – so if you’re okay with Whiteleaf, hopefully Leith won’t be too much of a shock! If you’re doing PRL this weekend, good luck!

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