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Passes of the English Lake District

OS Maps: Landrangers 89 and 90, or (recommended) the OS' 1 inch/mile Touring Map and Guide 3 to the Lake District.

We started and finished at Penrith Railway Station, taking the train from Edinburgh on the Friday evening. We took the A66(T) West out of Penrith, and about 2 km out of town turned left onto the A592 (NY496285). Follow the road along the West side of Ullswater until you get to Patterdale at the South end. We stayed at the Patterdale Youth Hostel this evening. Continue South along the A592, climbing until you reach the summit of the Kirkstone Pass (454 m, NY402083). There's a decent pub here. A few metres to the South of the pub, a minor road bears off to the right; take this and enjoy an exciting descent into Ambleside. Turn left into the village centre, and then bear right to exit Ambleside on the A593. After about 2.5 km, turn right onto the B5343 at Skelwith Bridge (NY345035) to enter Langdale. Follow the B5343 to its end about 8 km away, and then turn left onto the minor road that continues on. A short but steep (25%) climb brings you past Blea Tarn (NY293044) and then down to a T junction (NY302034). Turn right, and then climb the very tough (1 mile at 25%) Wrynose Pass (390 m, NY277025). Continue West down the other side and take the right fork (NY247017) to climb Hardknott Pass (393 m, NY231013). Hardknott hits 33%, so steep that it needs a bit of thought to keep both wheels on the road. Continue West through Eskdale, Eskdale Green and at Santon Bridge turn right (NY111016) and go up to Nether Wasdale. About 2 km West of the village is the Wastwater Youth Hostel. Turn left in Nether Wasdale (NY128038) and head West until you reach the A595 at Gosforth (NY064036). Turn right (North) and about 2.5 km on, turn right at Calder Bridge (NY043060). Cross Cold Fell to Ennerdale Bridge, and then follow the signs on the minor roads, bearing right, through Kirkland, Lamplugh and turning right at the fork (NY015229) to go past Loweswater (the lake) and then through the village of Loweswater to join the B6289 (NY155226). We turned right here to head for Honister Pass (356 m, NY225135), but if you want to bag all the serious passes of the Lakes, turn left here, and then right on the B5292 over Whinlatter Pass (318 m, NY205245) and then at Braithwaite come back over Newlands Hause to join the B5289 first. Then turn left on the B5289 for Honister Pass. (356 m, NY225135). Follow the road down Honister Pass into Keswick. Head East out of Keswick on the A66, which will take you all the way back to Penrith, but once out of the town there are some good minor roads such as the B5288 which you can join about a mile past Troutbeck, turning north of the A66.

This is about 110-120 miles in all, and a lot of very steep climbing. The Fred Whitton Challenge version of this route also includes the climb of Matterdale end NW of Ullswater and a few potboilers like Hawkshead Hill, but doesn't go out northeastwards as far as Penrith. The Fred Whitton route is 112 miles (180 km) with 3570 m climbing.

Kirkstone Pass
Langdale
View to Hardknott Pass from the bottom of Wrynose Pass
View down Hardknott Pass
Bassethwaite Lake
Niall reaches the summit of Honister Pass
Kirkstone Pass Langdale
Hardknott Pass
Bassenthwaite Lake Honister Pass