Braithwaite side – 2.3 miles.
Lorton side – 3 miles.
Braithwaite side – 15%.
Lorton side – 12% for short section.
Where to find it?
The start of the climb is in the village of Braithwaite which is about two miles to the west of Keswick, simply go down the A66 and turn left at the sign.
The easiest and most accessible of the six big Lakes passes, Whinlatter is still a tough proposition as it is quite long from both sides. It is also wooded for the most part so you are protected from the wind to some extent. A good one to start with if you are ticking off the big Lakes challenges.
Braithwaite side – the road starts to rise gently from the village itself but then quite quickly steepens and is hard work for a short section where the road is well over 10%, perhaps up to 15% for short pitches. After this it eases to somewhere between 6 and 8% and takes on an alpine feel, it reminded me a bit of the Col du Telegraphe for those who have done that. As you near the Visitor Centre the slope eases to maybe only 4 or 5% before a short sharper section as you get to the top. The climb is wooded throughout, the surface is quite good, grippy even, and as it is a main road it is quite busy. It does twist and turn near the bottom so you need to be alert on the descent and knock off your speed before you get to the village as the road narrows to squeeze past a building on the right and the hillside on your left.
Lorton side – longer but on the whole a much gentler approach. Starting at Lorton the road starts at around 8% before easing to 2-3% for half a mile or so. Then the road raises quite sharply as it turns quite sharply right, left, then right again. This is the only real challenge on this side of the climb getting to around 12% or so. Care needs to be taken on the descent here as you could easily be caught out. The next mile and a half to two miles is largely straight and varies between around 2-5% with trees to your right and exposed fellside on your left. It’s now just a case of finding a good rhythm and easing yourself to the summit.
6 for the Braithwaite ascent, 4 for the Lorton ascent. Both sides have a tough section but ease towards the top so as long as you don’t go too hard they should be manageable for most cyclists