So then came hubby’s turn – this is one he’s been looking to do for a while, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine his bucket list item with a sneaky and much needed mini break. Hardknott Pass is the steepest road in Britain, and the little adventurer that he is, Dave wanted to give it a go on the bike. He had heard about it on various bike forums, but after hearing about an attempt my family made on the road (and failed) he was even more set. So, when a change in plans presented itself as a perfect opportunity, we booked a few nights in the Lake District.
Now seems as good a time as any to say we made the trip on a new bike – unfortunately Tigs the orange BMW was stolen from us at the beginning of the year 😦 It was utterly heartbreaking, and still is and always will be – any biker can tell you it really is like losing a member of the family. Whilst we are now joined by Rogue, the white Kawasaki Versys, Tigs will forever hold a place in our hearts and we hope she exploded on the b******s that nicked her. She was that sort of bike 🙂
Having said that, as much as we love Tigs, Rogue is without a doubt much better two-up. The comfort from my point of view is staggering, not only in the seat but also riding position, as well as the bike feeling so much more stable, it really aids endurance. As such, the 300+ mile run up to the Lake District was an absolute breeze. It helps we have been commuting together on the bike regularly, now we work at the same place, but it was really exciting to be able to do so many miles without struggling at all. It was more enjoyable too, as I was able to take in more of the scenery, and as we pushed further into the Lake District, that was something I was very grateful of. I’d only ever been the once, and it wasn’t exactly a trip full of fond memories, so it was lovely to be able to see the spectacular part of the country with fresh eyes.
We stayed at a gorgeous B&B just south of Windermere, and as we explored we were surprised at how relatively small the area is. We made it pretty much from one side to the other and back again in a day (east – west – east) whilst stopping off on the way. We were very adventurous and took a ferry across Lake Windermere, all of £1.60 for us and Rogue. I’m afraid I’m coming across another of those moments where words can’t describe just how beautiful this place was – looking at Windermere you are somewhat confused between a gorgeous sunny harbour somewhere abroad, and moody Romantic mountains of Scotland. Or just remember you’re in the Lake District…
After some gorgeous twisting roads, we neared our destination of Hardknott pass. As previously mentioned, I had been part of an attempt with my family when I was younger (in that I sat in the back of the car) which failed – our car didn’t have the power to make it up the steep incline, so poor Dad had to do a gazillion point turn on the very narrow bit of road with a fairly sheer drop to one side. As you can imagine, I was a little nervous about our attempt, even on the bike. We drew closer to the pass, and I began to recognise the way – particularly the pub where we stopped and recovered for an hour or so (the car too) and eventually the spot where the poor thing clapped out. The worst part was – we hadn’t even reached Hardknott Pass yet! This was Wrynose Pass, the one before! Eek!
Luckily the bike more than held its own up the steep road, squeezing through gaps where cars would have to wait, and using its incredible power to weight ratio to make light work of Wrynose. It was pretty hairy sitting on the back, I was clinging on for grim death, but the top of the pass yielded views that were without a doubt worth the white knuckles. We paused to take some photos, and then carried on towards Hardknott. Here we were met with not only a steeper gradient, but also very tight switchbacks and hairpins that I wouldn’t take a car up if you paid me. Dave counted 8 in quick succession, but I was focusing more on my breathing at that point. From all accounts, he had a fantastic time conquering the pass, but I was more looking forward to the reason for the pass in the first place – Hardknott Fort.
Not long after my family’s botched attempt, my Nan and Grandad who were on holiday with us came up from the other side. They weren’t fussed about the pass itself, but were aiming for the Roman Fort at the top. Unfortunately they didn’t quite get that there was never going to be much to see of a Roman Fort, and complained that it was a load of rubble. My Grandad is no longer with us, and I was excited to see something that would have such strong memories of him, even though it was the first time I’d been. We also took a photo of ourselves at the fort to show Dad we’d made it. I really enjoyed the fort, it was amazing to see from the foundations what the layout would have been like, and you could really tell why it was such a key position. I would really recommend trying to get there to check it out, even if it is from the west and back down the way you came, which doesn’t require you to tackle Hardknott or Wrynose at all.
The Lake District really is a spectacular place to visit, we wished we’d had longer to properly explore and see some of the other incredible sights this area has to offer, and we shall definitely be back in the near future.
The Vintage Housewife x