Hardknott Pass, a challenging climb in Britain

Hardknott Pass
Hardknott Pass

Hardknott Pass, in the heart of the Lake District National Park in Cumbria, England, is a must-see for those looking for a demanding and thrilling road journey. The pass is recognized as one of the most difficult roads to climb in England, due to its steep inclines (30% in some places), tight hairpin curves, and stunning views.

Tourists, truckers, and cyclists are all lured to this little road, which offers a one-of-a-kind and spectacular adventure.

Where is the Hardknott Pass in England ?

Hardknott Pass is situated in the Lake District National Park, in the county of Cumbria, England.

This pass rises to an altitude of 400 meters (1,312 feet) above sea level. The road is considered the steepest in England. Indeed, it has a slope of about 33%.

You can visualize where is the road on this map :

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Facts about the Hardknott Pass:

This road is a single-lane asphalt road. You can do the climb from both sides. On one side, if you start from Beckfoot you will have 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) climb and an elevation gain of 300 meters (985 feet). On the other side, you can start from Cockley Beck where the climb will be similar, but the elevation gain is lower, about 175 meters (574 feet). The highest point is 393 meters (1,289 feet) above sea level.

On a clear day, you can see the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea.

What is the history of Hardknott?

The Romans built a road through the pass around 110 AD for troop movements. The road fell into disrepair after the Romans left Britain in the early 5th century. In the early Middle Ages, the road was known as Waingate and was used by monks from the nearby monastery.

In the 1880s, the road was resurfaced to attract tourists. The road was totally destroyed during the Second World War, as the training of tanks completely destroyed the existing road surface. After the war, the damage caused by the war was repaired and tarred.

Hardknott Pass cycling:

Although the road is entirely paved, it is still considered dangerous for cycling. Indeed, it is a series of tight and narrow hairpin turns.

It is also known to be one of the narrowest roads in England, so if two cars meet, one of them has to back up several hundred yards to find a place wide enough to pass. So if you are cycling there, you should be attentive to the vehicles coming.

The weather can also be capricious, especially in winter with its unpredictable snowstorms and blizzards. All these factors could provoke accidents.

How to get to the Hardknott Pass ?

The pass is located in the Pass Lake District, in Duddon Valley, Cumbria, England.

If you are coming from the east you have to drive the A591 road until Ambleside, then drive east on the A593 until you reach the turn to Little Langdale, then drive until the Hardknott Pass road.

On the other way if you are coming from the west you should drive the A595 until Holmrook, then drive until Eskdale and turn on the Hardknott Pass road.

There are other dope roads in England, such as the Winnats Pass, the Magic Roundabout or the Honister Pass.

You can trace the itinerary on this map:

A video of the journey:

You can have a preview of that drive. You just have to watch this YouTube video as it shows a part of the road:

Is Hardknott Pass open?

While usually open throughout the year, it may temporarily close during inclement weather, especially in winter when snow and ice can make it dangerous to drive.

Driving on Hardknott Pass is a unique experience, requiring drivers to navigate narrow roads with heart-stopping hairpin turns. When encountering an oncoming vehicle, drivers must be prepared to yield and provide safe passage. Despite its challenges, the road attracts drivers and cyclists seeking an adrenaline rush.

However, it is recommended to avoid driving on Hardknott Pass during nighttime and rainy conditions, as visibility and traction can be significantly reduced, making it even more challenging to drive.

This pass is really worth the detour, indeed it is very well known and pleasant to climb if you like the mountain. Once arrived at the top of the Hardknott pass, you have to stop and admire the view. The landscape is magnificent here, it shows nature in all its beauty.

Picture credit: By Paul Hermans – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=45526240

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