A Harrowing Drive on Hardknott Pass

August 15th, 2015

Dan and I were absolutely amazed by the beautiful scenery that greeted us at every lake, fell, village, and twist in the single lane roads that we explored during our Lake District trip and the views from Hardknott Pass over the Eskdale Valley to the west and Duddon Valley to the east and all the way out to the coastline of the Irish Sea even on a wet, cloudy day were easily our favorite. The well preserved 1st century Roman fort located at the top of the pass that you can get up close and personal and explore only adds to the cool factor. That and the drive over the pass is an adventure in itself!

At an elevation of 393 meters above sea level, Hardknott Pass is said to be the steepest road in England with a maximum 33% gradient. It is definitely not for the nervous driver and there were one or two moments of trepidation where we didn’t think our little Ford Fiesta was going to be able muster up enough momentum to make it up the hairpin ascent!

The road was originally built by Romans in the early 2nd century to link the coastal forts at Ravenglass, Hardknott, and the garrisons at Ambleside and Kendal. The old packhorse turned modern automobile route is also popular with cyclists and we passed several torturing themselves and punishing their quads as they made the cruel trek over the pass.

On the way down, a few particularly steep turns tested the effectiveness of our brakes. Did I also mention that its only a single lane road with barely enough room to give way for oncoming traffic ascending the pass? I’m glad I was in the hands of my competent husband chauffeur with only one wrecked minivan from his youth on his hands!
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