Unless willing to make the long journey around the top or bottom of the National Park, drivers or cyclists wanting to reach the Lake District’s far west have no option but to negotiate the steep, winding roads that cross the Wrynose and Hardknott passes. Climbing out of Little Langdale, Wrynose is hard enough, but it’s Hardknott that has the more fearsome reputation. This Roman route crosses the fells via a series of hairpin bends, one after the other in dizzying succession. With a gradient of one-in-three in places, the road isn’t suitable for caravans or long vehicles. Reaching a height of 1289ft (393m) above sea level, it’s also often impassable in winter.
Every spring, cyclists tackle both Hardknott and Wrynose, along with four other major Lakeland passes, on the gruelling Fred Whitton Challenge – a 114-mile sportive that involves nearly 13,000ft (3900m) of climbing.