2nd June 2012

Walking the Lakeland Passes - Walk 18 - Hardknott Pass, Wrynose Pass and Blea Tarn Pass


Walk Overview
Time 07.15 to 15.00
Duration 7 hr 45 min
Distance 15.6 mile
Ascent 4400 ft
Walking with On my own
Brotherilkeld - Hardknott Pass - Cockley Beck - Wrynose Pass - Blea Tarn - ODG - Oxendale - Hell Gill - Three Tarns - Lingcove Beck - Lingcove Bridge - Brotherilkeld
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, Jubilee Bridge, Hardknott Pass

Hardknott Pass has got to be one of the steepest and most difficult roads in the country. In fact, many people make the effort to drive all the way around to this part of the Lake District just to face the challenge. I should point out that this road can be extremely dangerous during the winter months and is best avoided altogether if the weather is at all frosty. I was caught out myself on one occasion when using the route as a shortcut over to Cockley Beck. Just above the steepest of the bends the road turned into an ice rink and I had no alternative than to reverse back down until I reached a convenient turning place; not an experience I'm keen to repeat.

The car park has room for about ten cars, but should you find it full, there is usually room a little further along the road into Eskdale.


Route Map

For today's walk I stepped out of the car and straight onto one of the steepest roads in the country so there was no gentle warm up for the legs at all. The route from the start of the walk over Hard Knott Pass, through Wrynose Bottom, over Wrynose Pass and down to Fell Foot has been used for a variety of different purposes over the centuries. It's originally purpose was as part of the Roman route between Ambleside and Ravenglass. It may seem strange to many folk, but I got a real sense of satisfaction from walking a route which has been in regular use for about 2000 years.

A picture of me taking a picture of Eskdale. In case you were wondering what I actually look like (although I can't think why you would), I can assure you I'm not the same shape as this shadow makes me look.

"Right come one, who said the shadow is an improvement"

Previous residents of Hard Knott Pass took the trouble to build a bath house complete with hot, cold and somewhere in between rooms. Unfortunately I had too far to walk today so I couldn't stop off to get cleaned up a bit.

Hardknott Pass zigzags.
Right, it was easy to get up here to take a picture, now I need to get back down to the road without doing a cartwheel or a something on the way down.

Hardknott Pass summit.

A look over to Harter Fell.

A very hazy view towards Wrynose Bottom and Wrynose Pass.

A rather dry looking Hardknott Gill.

Apparently this is track follows the route of a Roman road through this area. Although, I can only conclude that the bend must have introduced as part of a modern improvement plan. You know the ones I mean. You take an idea that has been 100% successful for longer than anyone can remember, you form a committee, hold meetings and you all agree to change it.

Cockley Beck Bridge.

Walking through Wrynose Bottom and looking back to see Hardknott Pass getting further away.

and looking in the same direction as the previous picture. This time from Wrynose Pass.

At the top of Wrynose Pass now and that's the way to Red Tarn and Crinkle Crags.

Next to the Three Shire Stone is this plaque explaining things. In case you can't quite make it out, it says:

Three stones have traditionally marked the adjoining counties of Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire on this site.
The limestone monolith carved in 1816 for the Furness Roadmaster William Field of Cartmel (D. 1860) was set up by friends after his death.
Repaired and re-erected by the National Trust in 1998 with local support.

And the stone itself    

As I began to walk down Wrynose Pass I could hear a voice above me and for a moment I thought perhaps my day of reckoning had came. Once I'd thought of a few excuses for some previous lapses of good character I plucked up the courage to look heavenwards and much to my relief I saw it was this guy and not the other fella.

Heading down Wrynose Pass.

Wrynose Bridge.

A close up of Side Pike.

Turning sharply at the bottom of the pass you reach Fell Foot. This must have been a welcome site to the early visitors to the English Lakes. In those days travel was a risky business no matter where you went, but to make your way over these mountain passes on your own would have been viewed as foolish and dangerous.

And the front of Fell Foot.

You don't have to tell me; I've just walked over both of them.

I've just came along the road on the left and now I'm heading along the one going off to the right.

On the route over from Little Langdale to Great Langdale I took this picture of looking across to Wetherlam, Fell Foot and Wet Side Edge.

Blea Tarn Pass.
The tops of the Langdale Pikes can be seen in the distance.

Just across from the route I took is Blea Tarn. Ordinarily I'd more than likely have took the path down to the tarn and then across to road as it begins to drop down to Great Langdale. I had however set out to walk over the passes and even though I'd already walked along the road from a heck of a long way, that's what I'd set out to do so I stuck to the plan.

Passing by Bleatarn House.

On route down to Great Langdale I took this photo of the Langdale Pikes.

Sunshine in Oxendale and on The Band.


A view into Mickleden.
At the head of the valley Rossett Pass heads up to the left and Stake Pass to the right. Those two will be walked on one of the remaining three passes walks I have left to do.

Stool End Farm, taken from the bottom of The Bank / the path leading into Oxendale.

Crinkle Crags above Oxendale; surely one of Lakelands shortest valleys (dales).

Looking back out of Oxendale.

This is one of the waterfalls found on the route between Oxendale and Hell Gill. The perched boulder actually catches the eye as much as the falls.

It's here that you cross over onto the Hell Gill side of the beck. Hell Gill is just out of site on the right of the picture.

You're definitely rewarded by the surroundings, but this is a much harder ascent route than The Band. This is probably why people (myself included) generally opt for the quick and easy quick route up The Band if they're setting out for a day on the high fells in the area.
On the right you can see the top section of Hell Gill and high up on the skyline is Bow Fell. I'm heading up to the nick in the skyline on the left.

A view back down, and on the left you can clearly see the path on The Band. Not a huge distance from my route but having walked both routes many times they feel like they're a world away from each other.

That way to Bow Fell. Not today though. I'm heading straight over from Three Tarns into Upper Eskdale.

One of the Three Tarns tarns in front of the Scafells.

The view into Upper Eskdale from Three Tarns.

Blimey, I'd have jumped out of my skin if I'd been standing here when that fell out of the sky.
It's a pity the haze is taking away much the clarity because this is such a fantastic place. That's Lingcove Beck down there and Hard Knott behind.

Lingcove Beck in front of Esk Pike.
Hopefully I'll be here again over the next couple of weeks to walk over Ore Gap.

I'm still next to Lingcove Beck and now I'm looking up to Bow Fell.


I'm now on the path that runs along the northern side of Hard Knott. Up on the left is Bow Fell and straight in front is Crinkle Crags.

Other people out walking. Apart from a few groups around the Old Dungeon Ghyll area I never saw many other folk today. After a quick count up in my head, I make it about a dozen.

Lingcove Bridge.

Turning around for a last picture of Upper Eskdale and I notice Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags are now topped with cloud.

This one must be a Herdwick - Poodle cross breed.


I think I need to clean the camera lens. All these black dots are spoiling the photos.

Today, , , , ,
I have been mostly walking up, then down, then up

David Hall -
Lake District Walks