Length 2.92 miles
Where to find it?
Approaching Ambleside on the main A591 from Keswick/Grasmere you will reach a mini roundabout just before the busy town centre, The Struggle takes the left up here, the sign says Kirkstone 3 (photo 1). Conveniently situated near the foot of the climb are the Apple Pie Shop and Biketreks cycle shop, good options if you would prefer to eat some pies or look at bike parts rather than take on the climb, both options worth considering.
The third and hardest way up to the top of Kirkstone Pass, it joins the main Kirkstone Pass route at a T junction near the Kirkstone Pass Inn at the top. I’m still not totally convinced that this is one climb, you could argue that it is three linked climbs. However I am totally convinced that it’s rock hard!
The first section through the narrow street starts steep, probably straight onto around 16%, this does ease before kicking up again and is tough going for about a mile, then eases as you leave the village. It then flattens for a short while and you go down a small dip before taking on the second section (photo 3), you are about half way up now and this section probably maxes out at 15%. Once over this you noticeably dip down before taking on the final half mile. This is a fitting end to a classic climb, a stunning exposed landscape and a sinewy sliver of tarmac now lies before you leaving you in no doubt about the challenge ahead. And it is a challenge, a gradient of 20% or so in places, mist and wind to deal with, probably, it is the Lakes after all. But the end will come, one way or another!
8 – I based this write up on two climbs to get a feel. The first time I did it (when I took these pictures) it seemed a bit easier. The second time I was with Dave Kirton and David Peacock from the club and I was having a very slow race up with Dave K, and he beat me! Not sure how he did this as he was wheezing like an old bellows as we went up Wrynose (the hard way) and Kiln Hill Bank earlier in the day and i was sure he would fall apart on The Struggle, but he didn’t, he’s an enigma. Even taking this painful defeat into account I would still only give it an 8 as you do get breaks. Needs to be respected though, it is long and the gradient is tough in places, similar to Park Rash in some ways but not quite as steep or as painful.