The bleak and rugged Hardknott Pass, one of the steepest and most intimidating passes in the Lake District, is accessed by a narrow winding road which has a gradient of 1 in 3. and contains some of Britain's most challenging driving. The route encompasses some stunning scenery as it rises to the summit at 1,291 feet.
The western side of the pass showing part of the Hardknott Roman Fort
Eskdale viewed from the Hardknott Pass
The Romans called the pass the Tenth Highway, linking forts at Waterhead and Ravenglass. Used as a packhorse road and later as a tank training ground, the present road over the pass only acquired its tarmac surface after the Second World War.
The pass has a series of switchbacks which can be quite unnerving for drivers. It is closed for long periods in the winter months as ice renders it treacherous and inpassable.
At the peak of the pass the road traverses between Hard Knott and Harter Fells. Parking places are provided for fell walkers and there are some glorious sweeping views of the unfolding grandeur of the mountains. Sca Fell can be seen to the north and on a clear day the Isle of Mann is visible.
The view of Little Langdale from the Wrynose Pass
Hardknott Roman Fort
OS grid ref. NY 219 015
The vast Hard Knott Roman Fort, or Mediobocdum as it was known to the Romans, perches eyrie like on a bleak plateau, commanding a strategic position below Hard Knott Pass covering three acres.
The fort was built by the Emperor Hadrian and was quite extensive with granaries, bathhouses and a commanders quarters. Its walls were in the region of twelve feet thick. Some of the buildings have now been re-constructed from the original fallen stone. The fort can be reached from a small car park cut into the bank about half a mile back from the summit of the pass.