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Lake district (and it's mountain passes) on an R1 - March 15

Guest Phil Young

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Just got back from Lake district (stayed in Kendall) and thought I'd write a report about it :)

Departure from London: 9am

Arrival at Kendall: 7pm (let me explain...)


So based on the journey there, I am self upgrading my riding skills to great - it was an absolute nightmare! We faced;

Gale force cross winds, a blizzard, rain & sun. Pretty much 4 seasons all in one day!

The first 90mins was great, we covered nearly 100 miles up the A1. It was a bit windy and cold, but we stopped for coffee and set off again. Then, we were hit with all the above and what remained constant, was the wind, which was just tiring! I made the decision to come off the dual carriageway / motorway shortly after getting blown nearly into another lane. We ended up on country roads, at night, when it was snowing. Every time I saw there was a car that knew the roads, I'd speedy up just to stick with it but yep, that wasn't the most comfortable ride I've ever had for my nerves...

Then of course, there's no real direct through road to the lake district so we had to go through towns and traffic lights and it just too forever. BUT! We made it, and thanks to my air hawk, and a £1 air cushion for the wife ;) it was a comfortable ride.


Amazing place. I had been here before, hiking, 3 years ago. But never got to sample any of the roads. All of which are amazing. Usually I'd avoid A-roads but these are great, massive lanes, not busy AT ALL (and every car I saw I pretty much overtook anyway). No sat nav or route required for good roads, just go anywhere and within minutes, you'll be on one! My favorite part of the journey has to be the passes, including the legendary, Hardknott pass.


We did Kirkstone pass on the 2nd, and the rest (5) on day 3. I have a little review of them all below.

Kirkstone Pass: Including the first part "the struggle" which sets you up nicely for Hardnott pass. Of the 6, Kirsktone was the most extreme. At the bottom, nice an sunny, the top was pure snow. The struggle, which is a small part of the pass from ambleside, is quite steep and with tight bends, it does require a bit of skill to get up, but it's not too bad. Not really a struggle for the beast that is the R1 :mrgreen: 3.5* for the struggle, 3* for the rest.


Honister Pass: Great fun this one. At the top you gets you to Honister slate mine and a fantastic view from the road taken. We ascended from borrowdale and the ascend was great - to our left was waterfalls all the way down. Fairly technical, I'd give it a 3.5* out of 5 for the skill factor. Coming down to buttermere you will see running water on the left, and a rather large boulder, which I named, the rock of honister :lol: :lol:





Newlands Pass: Easily missed this since it's an un-named road on the map. Straight after honister pass and a right turn leads you to Newlands pass. When we went through there was a sign saying "route not advised" so kind of told us there might be some ice or something but nope, just a nice ascend on the edge of a mountain :) The ride is great since you just see the valley below, pretty much the whole way up. Giving this a 3* for skill. Not very difficult but you could go off the edge and be a gonner :)


Whinlatter Pass: This was just rubbish for me but if you like forests, you'll enjoy it :) This was the wife's favorite (probably because it's very easy and doesn't feel like you'll be able to die easily!) Didn't feel like a mountain pass like the rest but better than a poke in the eye with a sharpe stick I guess. 1* for me on the skill factor.

Hardknott Pass: Now we're talking!!! Worth going for the lake district just for this. With a 1:3 (33%) gradient, of which, some are on hairpin bends, this bad boy requires skill and balls. It doesn't matter what you read or see on youtube, nothing can prepare you for just how steep this road is. Worst part is, the sun and vehicles have made the road jagged and bumpy, you have to think about not falling off, not stalling and on top of that, staying out of the bumpy bits. Challenging ride but like the rest, once you get to the top, you will see amazing views and can wear the badge of doing to the road :) Crazy thing is, cyclists actually go up this!! Crazy mo fo's. Easily a 5* route and I can see why it's named the toughest road in the UK by many. *Don't do this first, the rest will be boring if you do*


Our Descend:


Wynrose Pass: A left turn after Harnott Pass brings you to Wynrose pass. This is probably the second hardest in terms of technicality. Similar to Hardnott in many ways but not quite as extreme. Once you get to the top, you can take a photo of the road which snakes up. At this point the wife had enough and laid down on a rock at the top... 4* for me but maybe a contender for the favorite as the views are great and it is quite a technical climb as some parts are 30% and with fairly tight turns.



So that's my review of the mountain passes, definitely my favorite is Hardknott, which is the only one which I could feel my heart rate going up as I approached, just because you read the stories and have a feeling of what to expect :)


Thanks for reading, videos to follow :)

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cracking :thumb:

just one problem with it

wrong time of the year :lol:

get up there in summer 8-)

Not at all - it was great. Excellent roads, great conditions. No rain others than the ride there. Mountains with snow tips, that's what it's all about. Summer is great - done that too, but March in the lakes looks fantastic. Summer this year is Snowdonia (in May) and Ireland (June).

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One of the best days of my riding career was in the lake district.

No cars. No Walkers. No Bikers. Nothing at all aside from a few lorries on the M6 between Lancaster and Kendal. the entire country like a scene from 28 days later... 6th September 1997

A day that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

Lovely weather for it too. :mrgreen:

I hear they gave her a great send off... such a shame I missed it. :lol:

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Great stuff. I considered going via the Lakes on the way back from the TT last year, but decided not to in the end. Looks like I missed out on some great roads. Nice photos.

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