Constitution Hill in Swansea is said to be the world’s steepest inhabited cobbled road. It’s roughly 300m in length and the cobbled section averages 18% in gradient. It’s been included in numerous cycle races because of how difficult it is to climb and ride along. And today I walked down it.
You read that right, I walked down Constitution Hill for my Juneathon exercise.
Let me begin at the point where this daring idea all started: I’d enticed my niece and nephew (My two dear sprats) down to my house after school with the promise of strawberries and tinned milk. But by the time we’d finished the strawberries and played a couple of board games it was getting rather late. Not only did I not want them to walk home alone, I also thought that taking them home would be a good bit of exercise as they live up Constitution Hill. (Well, very near to it)
So, my idea had been to walk both up and down the hill, with those two in tow on the way up. Leaving me to then make my way back down again as slowly as I needed to. There was one flaw in this plan. Being a doting aunt, I also told them that they could buy themselves some sweets for the way home. To be honest, this wasn’t an entirely selfless gesture. I thought that if they had sweets to eat as I puffed and panted up they hill they wouldn’t be taking quite as much notice of how long they were having to wait around. So, we went sweet shopping. And then we started making our way to their house.
We lost Constitution Hill entirely!
In fact, I think that all 3 of us might have been just a little bit lost at one point. (I’ve not walked from my new house to their new house before. There’s a rather large hill that gets in the way.)
A pang of terror entered my heart when the eldest sprat (who is one of the most navigationally challenged people I know) cried out “I know where we are!” and started to point up a long, winding road. Did I dare believe him, this boy who seems to forget the direction of the sea once he’s walked barely 30m from it?! Oh, the angst!
And then I thought: He’s got a phone. If we get too lost I can call a taxi. After all, how lost can we get?
Strangely enough we didn’t get lost at all.
I was able to hand them over to their mother safely without any bruises, broken legs, or tantrums having befallen them. Before I left, I sneakily used her wifi to check where the darned Hill was. And so, I found myself walking down it.
Not all of the way down. That might have killed me.
Let’s say “most” of the way down. And I didn’t do too badly at all. The last time I tried to walk down part of the Hill my knees buckled and it took a few days before I could walk properly again. Today I just felt as if it was a reasonable workout.
You can’t mention Swansea’s Constitution Hill without also mentioning the most iconic film featuring the city: Twin Town. In that film, released just over 20 years ago in April 1997 the opening scene involves a car hurtling down the hill. I have no idea why that happens. I’ve never seen the film. It just seems to be something everyone talks about if you mention it.
Constitution Hill Day: A walk up and then down
Steps Taken: 6,643
Difficulty Level: Moderate