100 km | 29.5 mi from Little Langdale feat. Wrynose pass,Eskdale, Birker Fell & Hardknott pass.
This Gran Fondo combines both rides we’ve done together with the famous Struggle climb. It obviously includes what The Guardian describes as “Britain's two most outrageous roads” - Wrynose and Hardknott passes. A great leg day!
Rating > Difficult
Terrain > Rolling hills with some very steep climbs
Elevation Gain > 2100m | 6,889ft
You’ll start from Windermere, heading towards Grasmere for your first climb of the day: Red Bank (1.14km climb averaging 8.9%, peaking at 25%). You’ll then get to enjoy the majestic Blea Barn valley and your second climb (1.2km with an average gradient of 10.5%). Soak in the views, take a break and enjoy descending before attacking Wrynose.
Here comes the the third climb - Wrynose. The queen hill climb of England. 2.5 km, 11% average gradient with of the climb being over 20%. Savage. It’s tempting to go head down all the way but remember to look back at the view on Langdale Pikes & Little Langdale Tarn.
After descending on the other side, the road in the valley along the River Duddon is probably our favourite in the country. The moody and luxurious atmosphere is incredible when trapped in the fog.
At the next junction you need to take a left turn in order to attack Hardknott from the western side (the official Strava segment). This is definitely a great option as the road through Eskdale is another perfect one - picturesque and quiet, a much needed relaxing stretch.
45 km in, there’s a right turn with one more steep climb (25% again) to Birker Fell. This valley is jaw dropping 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. You can also stop at a really cute shack by the river for coffee and (very sweet) cakes to give you the legs and finally climb the steepest road in England.
With a maximum gradient of 33% you can imagine it’s a tough one, but what a sense of achievement when you reach the top! It doesn't end there though, because to escape the valley you have to climb Wrynose again, from the other side. Luckily this also means riding the valley along the river Duddon one more time and the other way around - this scenery never gets old.
Time to ride back toward Ambleside through Little Langdale and Elterwater. After 85km comes the last big climb: The Struggle. We haven’t had a change to climb it but heard that the views from Kirkstone pass at the top are well worth the effort. You then descend via Kirkstone pass before arriving back in Windermere. You will have deserved your chips…
Enjoy the ride!
Download the gpx file here:
By car: Station Precinct, Windermere LA23 1AH
By train: Windermere Train Station
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