This is probably my favorite road in England. It´s true that it´s not for everyone, but if your skills are up to it, this road is a laugh riot. Lots to do, lots of challenge, lots of fun. A bit like a paved motocross track. Perhaps the most challenging paved road I´ve ever ridden. Reminiscent of the Col de la Cayolle and Col de la Sarenne in the French Alps.
This road has so e magnificent views, but don´t be fooled into thinking you will be looking around while you ride this road, there are several pot holes and the corners are hair pins with gravel on the out side edges, but don´t think to cut corners because if you are to tight you will notice the old cobbless which are tarmaced over and if you have not got your speed and gears right and you should need to put your foot down you won´t reach the ground. This is not a ride for the faint hearted and you will need all your concentration to get up the hills. I did it from East to West and then back because the challenge was awesome and the views are exceptional both ways. Most car drivers are very good and will let you pass, just be aware of volvo drivers, I met two and they both took up more road than they needed and one even thought I had revers gear. A must for all experienced riders.
I did this on a Derbi Cross City 125 and the climb up and out of the valley was so steep that in first I had to put both feet down to push the bike up as the small engine nearly died. This is a really wonderful if not dangerous route that reminds me of the Kindom of Mourne...and that is a breathtaking place too. Everyone includiong the car drivers were courtious and helpful but beware, the corners are covered in gravel and you really need to love your back brake.
Ive ridden this road several times and it really is a challenge more so than a good run but it gives you a great feeling of achievement after you get to the end. The best piece of advise I would give is to make sure you have a clear road when approaching the very tight steep bends you really do have to keep going once you are committed.
Ive done this loads of times in the car and twice on the Pan European - West to East. It is a good challenge in the car and presents no real problems if you choose the gear and speed sensibly. On a bike however, you need to be cautious and commited - and know which of these traits to apply when. Wrynose (eastern half) is a good lead in to Hard Knott (western side) and is certainly the most enjoyable of the two passes. About 0.5 mile after Cockley Bridge, the road takes some viscious hairpins on a surface which is difficult to negotiate. Cars cars coming down the hill have ruffled the surface under the weight of their brakes. This leaves most front wheel drive cars scrabbling for grip - especially if there is a lot of gravel from rain (as there usually is).
Traversing West to East is (in my opinion) the best option, take this bit very slowly and careful use of back and front brakes on wide lines will see you safe. And try to avoid looking at the sheer drop on the left coming down the hill.
Even the West to East run presents a problem. A nice run along the Eskdale valley and then the gradient increases. You can see the corners coming, but one right handed hairpin is a serious challenge. The inside of the bend on the right is worse than 45 degrees - so if you stop here a) the front brake wont hold you and b) there is no road within reach of your right foot. The outside of the bend is tight but much better - but covered in gravel. Theres usually a line between the two which requires measured speed and lean. And you cant stop beforehand to line it up. Riding 2-up on a heavy Pan European was perhaps not the best choice - but I managed it OK. I still have a Pan, and I won do this bit again.
If you want to try this road for the first time, I suggest approaching from Seathwaite to the South. Stop at Cockly Bridge and take a walk up the first section of Hard Knott. Youll get a measure of what it is really like. If you decide its not for you, the road from here over Wrynose pass is really quite pleasant.
This route has to be tried by everyone at least once in their lifetime.
Pick you day and ensure that you have fine sunny weather for visibilty and to ensure best possible road surface.
Avoid weekends if you can, I,ve tied it twice once on a GSX 14 THEN a triumph tiger both did well, would not fancy it on a heavy cruiser my mate had a lot of probs with overheating on his VFR,WILL be riding it from ambleside end next time as the view down Eskdale is simply stunning YOU ARE CONSTANTLY LOOKING BACK WHEN riding from Eskdale.
There is a decent cafe at the Eskdale steam railway station when you start or finish with toilets of course, many people try a BBQ in the dip between passes and this could also be on my itinary next time.
Did this run a a quiet day last year as a practice for a trip over alps to Italy. Only other traffic were push bikes, pot holes & shale everywhere. My SV650 had no problem, but did t'ripny bit a couple of bends coming down.
The most fun Ive had under 30 miles an hour as my companion said when we got to the end. Hard work on a sportsbike but worth it for the sense of achievement and the workout!! I wouldn choose to do it in poor weather and although the majority of car drivers are aware of our presence and kindly pull over some that are a bit out of their depth and this shows in their driving standards.
I love this route, the more bumps the better. Can be scary for first time riders or super stiff suspension sports bikes. Need to to wary of car drivers who dont understand a bikes need to keep moving on some steep parts of this route. I took a bike novice friend as pillion for a ride on this route. He nearly cried!
Certainly not a road for the inexperienced, or the experienced unless they have good low speed control. Also be wary of tall, long bikes with poor steering lock....
I have driven the road many times and used to frequently ride it in my youth. Despite my experience I was twice caught out by the road and its users. On the way up the most tricky bit a Sunday car driver came round one of the U RH corners, a 1 in 3, forcing me to stop and get out of his way up against a precarious drop on my left. Just a vertical drop under my left foot and wheels barely on the road.
Once on the decent, on yet another tight U bend going down a 1 in 3, there were sheep laid right across the road mid bend and another sheer drop on the outside. As a result of the sheep I had to stop mid bend which left me badly set up to restart on a poor camber. I had to inch it around, on one foot and because of the limited lock I just managed to get it around. These were perhaps my most scary moments on the VFR since I got it and it can be an especially unhelpful tall/ heavy lump in a tight situation.
With out the unco-operative mobile hazards, I would got over it without much of a problem, but these are things an inexperienced rider should be wary of.
This is scary! Wrynose was interesting but not too challenging and I was beginning to wonder what the fuss was about. Then I realised that Wyrnose was just the practice run. Going up Hardknott you need to make sure you keep a good distance from any cars in front of you, theres not always going to be a good place to stop, and you need to keep moving. I did anyway - I only passed my test in May and hill starts arent my strong point. U-turns werent either, but you need to do a stack load of these on the way down, on dodgy cambered road with gravel down the middle. I was glad when it was over, but still keep thinking about it. Brilliant ride, even better topped off by the road back over Ulpha Fell.
Just read the reviews above and as noted by a few of the others
this is really supermoto heaven.
Ive ridden this route several times,once along time ago on
a KH400 including tent and wife...not for the faint hearted as the
inclines are very severe and most have tight hairpins thrown in
on the ascent and descent.
Fortunately I re-visited this route a few weeks ago on a CCM Moto
and have to say it is still a very challenging ride,but one you can
enjoy more when you have the handling and suspension of a
good supermoto under you.
Once you have climbed Wrynose you get a short respite along the valley
floor before the serious but shorter climb of Hardknott,take a few minutes to take in the Roman fort just after you reach the summit
theres a fantastic views up there,I even managed to spot
the Isle Of Man from here.
A big thumbs up from me....
April 17, 2006 - 3.0
We travelled Wrynose and Hardknott Pass on Easter Sunday, probably not THE best time to do this as there was a lot of tourists (car drivers) out. Scenery is great, if you have time to look!! There is lots on the ride to keep your attention on the road, which, at times, is hardly wide enough for one car.Some very sharp hairpins which are sometimes coupled with 1 in 3 or 1 in 4's and undulating road surface. Certainly NOT a place to miss a gear or get the revs wrong! There was also loose gravel across the road surface in certain stretches.Wandering sheep and surface water were also hazards to watch out for. If you're looking for high speed thrills, forget this one, but if you want to challenge your ability to keep control through some very difficult riding conditions then give it a try!We did this ride on a VFR and a Firestorm!
this should only be done by experienced riders... ive done it loads and it can easily catch you out. not a lot of fun on a hardtail chop or a softtail at times but always worth doing watch out for trucks and military vehicles going way too fast...
I agree with Pete. a sper-motard would be ideal on this road. Tarmac is one lane. Some of the switchbacks are extremely tight and off camber. I wouldn't recommend it to novice riders! That said, the road offers glorious views of the Lake District on sunny days.
This is an intense experience on any bike, let alone a sportsbike. The road surfaces are terrible, being very high in a mountain environment and subjected to awful weather most of the year. Gradients are steep, both up and down, visibility is atrocious most of the time - you can barely see ahead more than 100 metres anywhere. 1 in 3 and 1 in 4 climbs and descents mean you have to be VERY careful and read the road well ahead, with plenty in reserve always. Water washed gravel is all over the place and you would not want to be caught out in the wrong gear, or on the wrong line anywhere. There is also tons of idiot traffic around on the sunny summer Sundays when most riders will want to try it. You think car drivers are bad in town? Up here they are a complete and utter nightmare for us. Best ridden on quiet days for comfort, preferably with somebody who has done it before. I took a group of seven riders over here last year and their general opinion was they would have brought a crosser if they had known! Certainly slowed them down on their sportsbikes! Overheating of engines is easily possible, both on the way up and down both Hardknott and Wrynose, as is cooking the brakes on the descents. To cap it all imagine this - stalling on one of those steep ramps between floors in a multi-storey car park! Try it and see what I mean - then put yourself at a couple of hundred metres above sea level, on a singletrack road with all the hazards mentioned above, not a pretty thought is it? I stalled my 'Blade on the 1 in 3 once on Hard Knott; and this is no joke, it could have been death! It's a spectacular road and I love it - even on my 996! Have fun.
June 9, 2005 - 3.0
I've riden this section both on the bike and in a car.
Its quite a tight, twisty and undulating piece of road.
The surface is in good condition but there are a lot of bobbles in the road, these are more due to the type of countryside it runs through than the surface being neglected.
It runs through some nice scenery but the road demands your attenion so you dont get a lot of time to take it all in.
During periods of rain it can get very slippery in places as some sections run under a shroud of trees and there are places where fallen leaves can cover the road.