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Hardknott & Wrynose passes: tackling the beasts

47.6 km | 29.5 mi from Little Langdale feat. Wrynose pass,Eskdale, Birker Fell & Hardknott pass.

When in the Lake District we had to cycle what The Guardian describes as “Britain's two most outrageous roads” - Wrynose and Hardknott passes. This was our second morning program.

Rating > Intermediate

Terrain > Rolling hills with some very steep climbs

Elevation Gain > 619m | 2,021ft

road cycling in the Lake District

We made a 48 km loop that started from Little Langdale, filled the bar bags with snacks and attacked the first climb of the day: Wrynose. 2.5 km, 11% average gradient and most of the climb over 20%. Savage. It’s tempting to go head down all the way but remember to look back at where you come from - the view on Langdale Pikes & Little Langdale Tarn is incredible.

After descending on the other side, the road in the valley along the River Duddon is probably our favourite in the country. Soak in the atmosphere, it’s just incredible.

dreamy cycling road to Wrynose pass in the Lake District

At the next junction we took a left turn (right takes you straight to Hardknott) as we wanted to attack Hardknott from the western side (the official Strava segment). We're glad we did that as the road through Eskdale was another perfect one - picturesque and quiet, a needed relaxing stretch.

19 km in, there’s a right turn with a steep climb (another 25%) to Birker Fell. This valley is another jaw dropping one and the biggest battle of the day is not to constantly stop to take photos. If you’re in luck and happen to be there on a hot day, there are many swimming spots on this ride.

We quickly stopped at a really cute shack by the river for coffee and (very sweet) cakes to give us the legs and finally climb the steepest road in England.

road cyclist in the Lake District

With a maximum gradient of 33% you can imagine that it’s a tough one but what a sense of achievement when you reach the top! It didn't end there though, because to get back to where we started we had to climb Wrynose again, from the other side. Luckily this also meant riding the valley along the river Duddon one more time and the other way around - this scenery that never gets old.

cyclist in the valley between Wrynose and Hardknot pass, riding along the river

Legs had a great day, I can tell you that much! This was the perfect distance, a lot to enjoy and still energy left to spend the afternoon with the family - it’s the reason we came here after all.

On that note, we're super excited to organise a Lake District Escape this summer! Check it out and maybe see you there.

Enjoy the ride!

Download the gpx file here:

Hardknott & Wrynose passes - Hardknott pass
Download GPX • 118KB

Getting there:

By car: You can park in Little Langdale LA22 9NY where there is a 5£/day visitor car park.

By train: The nearest train station is Windermere (9 miles away) so you will have to either cycle or take a taxi.


Help us improve if there is a problem with the route:



All routes are illustrative only and users take full responsibility for their own safety when following any routes suggested on the Moloko Cycling website or app.

Only follow route if safe and legal, local traffic laws always take priority.

Take care to ride safely and respect other road users.


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