Wrynose and Hardknott Pass
An American tourist in the Lake District is reported to have asked a local,
"Can you tell me how to get to the Rhinocerous Pass?"
New Pictures Added
Nic Storr has recently been on a trip from his home in the Midlands to Scotland and back, taking in the Wrynose and Hardknott passes on the way. He has very kindly let me use some of his Scottish Trip photos on these pages, for which I am very grateful. The first of these is this panorama taken from the top of the Wrynose pass, looking towards Windermere.
A Brief History
As a starting point, I have decided to begin with the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes in the Lake District. To find this road on a map, click here. The road is the minor one running east-west towards the middle of the map, and contains some of Britain's most challenging driving, as well as some stunning scenery. A short walk from the car, you can see Roman remains, and a mountainscape opens up before your eyes, giving views of England's highest peaks. In the summer, the road is very busy, in winter it is perilous, but if you choose your moment carefully, and get good weather, the road is worth going out of your way to experience.
The Romans were the first to build a road through here, around 2,000 years ago, linking Ravenglass and Waterhead (on the northern tip of Windermere, now part of Ambleside). Traces of the Roman Road remain - it is now a footpath running just to the north of the road through the Duddon Valley between the Hardknott and Wrynose Passes.
After a career as a Packhorse Road and a tank training ground, Bike Magazine reports that it only received its tarmac surface after the Second World War. One look at the terrain will leave you wondering how they will ever re-surface it!
Copyright © 2004 - 2005 Simon Davies