By no stretch of the imagination is Col de Miscon a classic col. It has got hardly any hairpins, there are no km markers, the surface is dodgy in many places, and the sign marking the col is a hastily hand-painted one nailed to a dead tree. And it only just creeps in the list of 1000m+ cols by 27 metres.
But despite all that, two things endear it to me: firstly was the realisation that this rarely visited col is actually higher than the highest point in England; secondly is that it’s actually got some nice views at or near the top.
It’s actually hard to say where the climb really starts, whichever end you start. For in fact, if like me, you start out from Die, you’ll be gaining height most of the way, and the final ramps are only three or four kilometres either side of the top. But coming from the Luc-en-Diois side, I guess that the climb really starts just out of Luc-en-Diois, and from the Gorges des Gâts side it starts after the second little bridge having turned right in Boulc.
Anyway, for this ride I started from the Gorges des Gâts. If you do this, do look up and wonder at how all that crumbly rock stays up there. Actually, it doesn’t all stay there, and at the moment they are having some trouble on one bend where the road had had to be diverted down a bank, as several hundred tonnes of rock are now where the road was, and previous work, done just earlier this year, has also come tumbling down. And then, once on the road to Boulc (there’s no road sign for “Col de Miscon”), and you emerge out of the slightly scary, dark and steep 800m tunnel (you will need lights!), look back, and see why they dug the tunnel, rather than leave road users at the mercy of the unstable cliff faces. (You might also marvel at the economics of the tunnel, which can only serve a few hundred people at most.)
Anyway, briefly: watch out for the right turning for Miscon once you’re in Boulc; enjoy the view back along the valley to your right after the only hairpin on the ascent from this side; watch out for all the gravel on the descent – until you get to Miscon you won’t want to let your speed pick up – after then it’s a different road entirely, and you can enjoy the ride downhill all the way back go Die.