hardknott pass lake district

Has anyone had the pleasure of driving up the Hardknott pass ,did it last week and wondered peoples thoughts and any similar routes.thanks

Yes and I talked to a guy in his sixties that had driven it in the seventies in an old 1963 Ford Consul. I had used a modern Impreza Turbo.

He considered I had a safer car for the job.

Yes, in the early 90’s on fell walking holidays when based in Little Langdale and wanting to go to Wast Water and Scafell/Pike we travelled that road a few times, Wrynose Pass then Hardknott Pass going and the reverse coming back.  Pretty hairy in a front wheel drive Pug 205 GTI 1.9l, going uphill everyone (4 guys + gear) was leaning forward 'cos it felt as though we were going to flip over backwards.  Would have felt safer, and more fun in a rear wheel drive vehicle…an MX5!  Dread to think what the traffic is like now, wonder if there are lots of morons in “Chelsea Tractors” trying to run everyone else off the road.  

PS:  In the Western Highlands the road from Kishorn to Applecross is pretty interesting, my mate and I were in a Pug 504 p/u truck for that holiday, at least it was a rear wheel drive diesel and loads of grunt.

Did it - and Wrynose - a couple of years ago.  From the top down.  Amazing road - though had to take it gently in places with the Eunos lowered a little as it is.  Recommended - lots of stops for pics.

Many times, but never in an MX-5. 

Terrific scenery, and the possibility of a heart-in-mouth moment when rounding a  blind bend with a huge drop on one side and a less than competent driver coming the other way.

I must admit that I’d never categorise Hardknott , or similar tight , narrow and absurdly steep roads like Rosedale Chimney , as a great driving road . The scenery can be great , if it’s not raining stair rods , but you can’t enjoy it as you are concentrating on driving . Even the hallowed Bealach Na Ba isn’t a great driving road per se although it is sensational for other reasons .

Driven it a few times. The first time was in the early 90s and a big Jaguar saloon in front of me at one point pulled over to the side and caught fire!

I used to work in Whitehaven a lot and it was my favourite starting point for the drive home to Central London. Fabulous scenery and terrific contrast to my final destination. Last did it in a Granada… 

Yep 3 weekends ago in my newly obtained mk3.5 absolutely loved it up there. Not a great route for driving fun but the mx5 handled everything up there same can’t be said for the Volvo that let me pass him. Long vehicle with tight turns struggled a bit. My mazda just went straight up few lil skips and jumps and had to tune traction control off as it started jerking the car about. But lad sorted out the lumpy stuff when traction control wasn’t on.


Yes a few times in various cars, a Saab 900, Corsa (God help me) and a Roomster! Great scenery but not a great driving road. Only my old Golf GTI mk5 seemed comfortabike going up that road. Not tried it in a MX5 though.

46 years ago, two up on a BSA bantam 125cc  my dad was with us then and did it on his Combination! A 600cc behemoth, Panther sloper with double adult sidecar! Happy days  wasn’t that busy back then as I recall 


I have driven over those two passes on a regular basis for sixty years, first on a Frances Barnett two stroke motor bike and then a 350cc  four stroke, can’t recall the name of it at the moment, then after getting married we bought a mini 850cc and they all drove up without any bother. The late 1950 and 1960s were the best of times to be in the lake district as it wasn’t so busy then and the roads were a motor cyclists heaven in those days. Very glad I was able to take advantage of the Lake district then and also since then. We still go to the lakes at least five times a year and are still finding hidden roads we have never been on before. I was just over in the Langdales just yesterday, I had a great day out. Just remembered the 350 cc was a Matchless.

we had a week in the lakes 2 weeks ago staying in hawkshead.we zoomed up the kirkstone pass and wrynose.fantastic mx5 drives.

The Lake district isn’t far for me and is best avoided at the weekends, especially nice weekends when it becomes a car park with loads of incompetent Miss Daisy’s.  I mostly go on the motorbike for this reason, but in my opinion great Lake District roads that avoid most of the crowds:

A5074 from its Junction with the A590 near Levens up to the Turn off for the Hawkshead ferry.  (Then turn around and do it again the other way).


A5087 “coast road” from Ulverston to Barrow.  Don’t go into Barrow though carry on along the coast for a mile or tow and take the “Ferry” to Piel Island.  A very special place.


Corney Fell Road from its junction with the A595 at Duddon Bridge a mile or two north of Broughton in Furness to its northerly junction with the A595 again at Waberthwaite.  Avoid “rush hour” times when the locals who work in Sellafield race home to Barrow (or vice versa) where local road knowledge beats performance  any time.    The views over the Duddon Estuary and Morecambe bay on way and to the Lake District Fells the other are both excellent too.  


B5300 from Maryport to Silloth.  Another coast road, and in places you are almost on the beach so avoid when the seas are big as it washes over the road.  


B5305 from Wigton to J41 of the M6.  Nice fast open road this one with a few surprise tight corners thrown in to keep you alert.  


B6254 from Kirkby Lonsdale to Kendal.  Although KL is a very popular place for bikers and many of the good roads around throng with them, this road is ignored yet is the best in the area.  


Minor road from Caldbeck in “back o’ Skiddaw” area through Hesket Newmarket and then skirting the East side of the mountain to its junction with the A66.  Views are definitely better travelling south on this one.

All the above roads are all or mostly national speed limit.



The first time I drove over the hardknott pass I was at the end of it before I realised I was on it, scenic but can’t say it was fantasti. Maybe I’m missing something. 

I agree with most of those Austin especially the A5074 which conveniently starts right next to the Mazda dealer near the Gilpin Bridge pub. Fantastic road with superb double bends etc which is for the most part relatively quite. If I am in that area I always give it a go and do both directions!You just need to be aware of the two pubs and dykes along the first section and drive accordingly. 

As for Hardnott, challenging, but not that enjoyable as the concentration has to be so high looking out for other cars and bikes on blind summits and bends. I much prefer the section on the approach too and up Wrynose from the Hardnott end.

We did pretty much exactly this a month ago.  Great weather for the drive across, east to west late evening sun, not another vehicle in sight.  Terrible weather for the scramble up great end to Ska fell Pike and on to Scafell, the next day. Then fantastic sunshine next day for the drive home to Cornwall.  Wynrose nice pass, Hard knot just that. Some cracking harpin bends and very bmpy at speed. A firm hand required on the wheel over that one.  


Did it the first time in the 70s in a Rover 2000 which was a bit hairy as pouring down and wheels were spinning on steep sections so a bit hairy. Have been over several times since in MX5s which was good fun but problem now is there are so many idiots doing it who are not even capable of driving in a Tesco carpark !!!. ??

Ive done Hardnott Pass in my JC Midge many years ago when some numpty forced me off the road at the bottom pulling the exhaust off. Then more recently in my 1300 Locost, much fun. Now my MX5 NC is nearing completion of its repairs and MOT I will give it a try again.