Lakes Climbs – Introduction
This has been a bit of side project for me and may interest those of you that want to sample the delights of hills elsewhere in our green and pleasant land. Much as I love the North York Moors for cycling I do like to venture over to the Lakes, the Dales and the Pennines to get a bit a variety that those areas offer and to savour the splendour of their landscapes. Each area has its own unique character in terms of its climbs, the Moors climbs are generally very steep whereas the Dales climbs are long and somewhat bleak and too can be very steep. What the Lakes climbs offer is the grandeur of the mountains, rather than going over the top of hills, like they do on the Moors and in the Dales, they seek out the low points, the passes, so have a different feel. At the top of Honister Pass for example you have Dale Head to one side and Fleetwith Pike to the other looming 1,000 feet above you as you near the summit of the climb, it makes you feel very small. I have now (just about) done all the big Lakes climbs so I thought I could start to get them on the site. Like the North York Moors there are the climbs that just about every cyclist knows about but there are also some ‘gems’ tucked away off the beaten track that are well worth a visit, such as Kiln Hill Bank and Corney Fell. If you do all the climbs on this site you will have had a good tour of the Lakes.
The ones that just about every cyclist knows about are the big six passes on the Fred Whitton, but remember you are only tackling these from one side, the ascent of Wrynose, Kirkstone and arguably Honister are harder the other way around. The Struggle out of Ambleside, which too goes up to Kirkstone, is also a cyclist’s ‘favourite’. Just as I thought I had all the climbs just about covered I then discovered Red Bank on a minor road from Elterwater that heads towards Grasmere how had I missed this? I have given the key climbs a detailed write up and summarised some of the lesser climbs in a briefer overview. There are others too but I decided to keep it limited to 25, a good number for a tick list!
The good news if you’re a local cyclist who’s done our local climbs is that you have nothing to fear, if you can get up the Chimney, Caper Hill, Blakey Bank etc. you can get up pretty much anything. Oh sorry just remembered, I’d forgotten to tell you about Hardknott Pass, and I suppose there’s Wrynose from Fell Foot Farm too, yes best not think about them…
In terms of where to base yourself when doing these climbs Keswick is good for Honister, Whinlatter and Newlands while Eskdale Green or Ulpha are ideal for Hardknott, Wrynose, Corney Fell, Birker Fell and Kiln Bank. The best compromise though is probably somewhere around the Ambleside/Langdale area, from there pretty much every big climb (other than Corney Fell) is within reasonable reach.