Hardknott Pass, a challenging climb in Britain.

Hardknott Pass
Hardknott Pass

The Hardknott Pass is a rather famous pass in Great Britain. This hill pass and a small road between Eskdale and the Duddon Valley. It is located in the Lake District National Park, in the county of Cumbria, England.


This road is known as one of the most difficult to climb in England. That’s why it attracts many tourists, drivers, and especially cyclists wanting to climb it. Indeed, it is so narrow that driving on it is a real experience!

Where is the Hardknott Pass in England ?

The 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 (1312 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 :


Enlarge the map

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 a 2 kilometers (6561 feet) 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 (1289 feet) above sea level.

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

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 also other dope roads in England such as the Winnats Pass or the The Magic Roundabout.

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?

The road is generally open all year round.

It can still close temporarily depending on the weather, especially in winter, as ice and snow can make turning dangerous. That’s why there are accidents from time to time (even with death issues…).

As this is a steep road, check your brakes before driving there. Also, when it is dark and raining, driving can become very difficult. This is why it is recommended not to drive on this road at night.

Drivers are required to give way to vehicles going up the pass. This very steep road is generally open year-round but can be closed for long periods in winter, as ice makes the turns dangerous. Before climbing, it is worth looking around to see if there is a traffic jam ahead or behind you. It is best if you can climb without being hindered by traffic.

Drivers are required to give way to vehicles going up the pass. Before climbing, it is worth looking around to see if there is a traffic jam ahead or behind you. It is best if you can climb without being hindered by traffic.

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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