Hard Knott & Border End

28 01 2015

Oct 2014
At the moment, Lakes trips are very interesting for us both as I’ve decided Richard is bagging all the Wainwrights and he has all the lower, less-frequented ones left to do. This means that on each walk I’m going back to places I rarely get to and where I haven’t been for years and it’s all new to him – result for both of us ๐Ÿ™‚

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Border End from Hard Knott Pass

All photos by Richard Wood – click on for full size/resolution
This particular day was horrendous weather – rain, gloom and clag but, for once, we were really lucky and our hill was in an island of good weather. All around was gloom and very low, black cloud but we had patches of sunshine and dry weather ๐Ÿ™‚ Due to the ominous look to the weather when we set off from Broughton-in-Furness, however, I didn’t bother taking my camera out of the room. It’s a heavy beast and I can’t just delete my photos if they’re rubbish – we just took Richard’s digital once again.

Richard was less than enthused when I first told him he was Wainwright-bagging to finish off all his undone hills but even he has to admit he’s had some really great days since we started. He certainly enjoyed this one – as I did.

I drove sloshily up the Duddon valley and, just after the junction where you turn onto the road between Hard Knott and Wrynose Passes, we took a left for Hard Knott. Before the first bend in the road, there is a tiny quarry hole which was a perfect fit for my car – we parked up and booted up and set off for the interesting walk up the road pass.

Now, the Hardknott Pass is probably the most difficult road in the British Isles – Scotland think they have some difficult and scary roads but they’re nothing like Hard Knott – I know, I’ve done them all. I’ve only ever driven the Hard Knott pass once and don’t intend to do it again. It has hills steeper than 1-in-4 in places, is one car’s width with passing places and hairpin bends… and lots of traffic! All this would be okay if you were coming up it and people coming down gave way and waited in the passing places but often they don’t. If you miss on some of the bends, your car crashes down into a steep declivity! All this, however, makes it a very interesting road to walk up and ‘vehicle-watch’ ๐Ÿ˜‰

No-one made a hash of driving up the pass (you often see folks who do) and one motorcyclist and pillion went up and back just for the fun of it. We were also surprised to see the Mountain Goat minibus go over the pass – wouldn’t fancy that journey myself – I’d probably get out and walk if someone else was going to drive.

Anyway, enough of my wittering and onto the photos. Hard Knott and Border End are both very scenic hills full of interesting humps, bumps, craggy knolls and tarns. Here’s the proof…

First up, looking back down the start of the pass which I reckon is 1-in-3 although it doesn’t look like it in photos – did a car go straight on at the bottom? (see the tyre tracks up the knoll!)

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Looking back down from further up the pass – over the wall is one of the aforementioned huge declivities!

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View from near the top of the pass looking to Wrynose Pass (the distant col)

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Me waiting patiently under Border End for the photographer to catch up – and grinning hugely to be back in my beloved Lake District ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Stonesty Pike having worse weather – we were hoping to go up Cold Pike next to it after these two but it didn’t clear so we didn’t bother…

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We soon reached the rocky crest of Border End where there were nice views back down to the road pass – note the murk across the valley…

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Peeing it down back where we came from!

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Gloom over Hardknott Fort and Eskdale…

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But quite nice where we’re going (Hard Knott from Border End)…

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There are loads of interesting tarns on Border End so missing it out and going straight for Hard Knott would be a bad decision!

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Even Harter Fell is in the clag and it’s only around the same height as our hill

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We then reluctantly left Border End to move onto Hard Knott – we determined to clamber up every lump and bump between the two – made for very interesting walking and clambering… First of all, two final looks back to Border End as we left – I loved what I called the 3-eared hill (first photo)…

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Looking back towards Wrynose Pass showed the weather was getting worse over there!

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Onward to Hard Knott under the good weather…

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With interesting side peaks with bad weather beyond them…

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Before going for the rocky side peaks, we diverted down the north-west side to look for the Eskdale Needle which I’d only seen before from below in Upper Eskdale…

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The sun hit Scar Lathing in Upper Eskdale for a minute…

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And the magnificent Pen (Scafell Range) tried to clear…

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We then headed for a spot of light scrambling on the side peaks – very dramatic weather behind them…

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Hardknott Summit – getting ignored for now…

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The best of the peaks for scrambling – steep and lot of route choice, easy or hard. I’m afraid I was sticking with easy…

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Richard took photos of a scrambling mountain coward (unbeknownst to me as I was concentrating)…

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Hard Knott from the scrambling peak before we went to hunt for a way down off it!

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There were some interesting cleft crags on the approach to Hard Knott itself and I was a bit tempted to try a crack climb – however, I decided against it. I think the abrasiveness of the rock put me off as I didn’t wish to wreck either my best hiking boots or my hands!

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So we just continued on to the summit…

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As this is only really a short walk we didn’t linger on the summit for a break but continued on along the gentle ridge which descends to the far end of Mosedale. There are four Mosedale valleys in the Lakes – and they’re all exceedingly wet! The descent ridge is pretty wet too but had an interesting little rocky ‘island’ peak and tarn…

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The sheep were pretty upset as we sloshed by them down Mosedale – I don’t think many people visit the valley really. It was a wet, but pleasant, walk back out of the valley to the car. A great half-day walk and definitely one we’ll do again when the high tops are in the clag ๐Ÿ™‚

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20 responses

1 02 2015
underswansea

Sounds like an interesting trip and a steep road. You may have to trade in your car for a four wheel drive. Wonderful account and photos!

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1 02 2015
mountaincoward

My little cars can handle the road okay – it’s just when you meet someone coming the other way who doesn’t wait in a ‘passing place’ and you have to try to do a hill-start on a 1 in 4 incline! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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29 01 2015
Simon Howlett

Been years since I’ve driven on this road, will have to have another go when it’s less wintry. Great to see these photos, a lovely walk.

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29 01 2015
mountaincoward

Definitely not in winter! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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29 01 2015
McEff

Everyone has a Hardknott Pass story and hereโ€™s mine. My father used to have a motorbike and sidecar, and when I was little he took me, my brother and mother up the pass. When we hit a steep section the front wheel of the motorbike lifted into the air and we all screamed. My mother made him turn the bike around and take us all down again. It was years before I actually got to the top.
Great post, Carol. Iโ€™d not heard of the Eskdale Needle. You learn something new every day.
Cheers, Alen

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29 01 2015
mountaincoward

Good God! that must have been petrifying! Your mother did right ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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29 01 2015
bob

Hi Carol,
I’d agree with Hard Knott Pass being the steepest. I remember thinking years ago it was more intense than the Scottish minor roads. It used to be quite popular for committed cyclists but it’s probably too busy these days? No snow yet in the Lakes I see although that might change in the next few days. Good photos of a rugged section.

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29 01 2015
mountaincoward

We didn’t see any cyclists but I’m pretty sure they still hold cycling events over those passes. We keep getting bits of snow here but not enough for me to try out my new sledge ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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28 01 2015
fedup

Some great pictures ๐Ÿ™‚ Border End is a fantastic viewpoint, well worth making the detour to. I’m pleased you remembered to have a hunt for the needle. I usually start from Brotherikeld so haven’t had the misfortune of visiting that particular Mosedale but you are right they are wet!!

Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

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29 01 2015
mountaincoward

It’s a nice enough Mosedale and pretty short… just wear your wellies! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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28 01 2015
EchoohcE

Another nice post Carol. I also agree about Hardknott Pass, though it’s been years since I drove it. I watched someone stall their car on that first steep bit – which I think is the steepest on the pass – and spend about ten minutes and more than a few years off their clutch trying to hill-start, rather than backing down and trying again.
The road down to KinlochHourn, or by Loch Arkaig take some beating for being bendy, narrow and long, and though Hardknott pass is very awkward and much steeper it is much shorter. Though it does have more traffic, which could be the biggest problem!
You sure you don’t want a small, light, digital camera? They are very handy ๐Ÿ™‚
Cheers, Mike

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29 01 2015
mountaincoward

Having to do a hill-start halfway up a 1 in 4 is one of my very worst driving nightmares! No handbrake holds on a 1 in 4!

I don’t mind the Loch Arkaig road but it does go on a bit. I saw huge articulated forestry lorries using it last time I car-camped down the road end – I’d hate to meet one of those on such a little road!

I do have a small digi-camera but don’t like it. Landscape photos are never sharp on it. Richard’s is slightly better but I’m still not totally impressed and much prefer my film shots. Also, they seem to do some kind of averaging of the colours which I don’t like. Not enough tonality somehow.

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29 01 2015
EchoohcE

I was a late convert to digital cameras, got my first one at Christmas 2004. I’m on my third one now. As I used to use an SLR I just use the digital camera on manual all the time, altering shutter speed and F-stop to suit. Landscapes are often a bit lacking in sharpness I have found, unless the weather is very clear and the light is good… might be ‘cos I mostly have it on F8 (max) and maybe I should try it a bit more open, like F6.1…
I pick a camera that uses (removable) x2 AA batteries, either rechargeable or disposable Lithium – which last for yonks.
Yeah I drove down the Loch Arkaig road in July 2013, and met one of those giant forestry waggon with trailer, fortunately he was only ten yards up the road from the car park at the end! He graciously inched back to let me pass, which was nice ๐Ÿ™‚

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29 01 2015
mountaincoward

Oh yeah – that’s another great thing about my film camera – you can take it out in any weather and use it for as long as you like as there’s no electronics or batteries to go wrong ๐Ÿ™‚

I think the lack of sharpness is the fact that you can’t hold those miniature cameras still to take photos, especially as they’re not against your face as an SLR is. I can never see anything in the view-finder either so I’m just guessing with one – Richard too…

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1 02 2015
EchoohcE

“I can never see anything in the view-finder either so Iโ€™m just guessing”
Agreed – the viewfinders on small digital cameras are crap – I’ve got into the habit of using the viewing screen.
Also, you can check your photo on the viewing screen straight after, and try again if it doesn’t look right… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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1 02 2015
mountaincoward

It’s probably the ‘viewing screen’ I mean – I just can’t see anything with the camera and have to wait until I load it onto my PC back home…

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28 01 2015
tessapark1969

That looks a nice walk with some good views.

I hate Hardknott pass – I agree it’s worse than anything I’ve driven on in Scotland. I’ve only been over it once, and I got out and made my ex drive from about half way up. He was unamused about having to do a hill start!!

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29 01 2015
mountaincoward

I found it a very scary road – it would be better if no-one else was using the road though and you could just bash on up it. I think they should instal a traffic light system on it and have an hour in each direction. But you could still get stuck behind someone who didn’t go up fast enough and all grind to a halt! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

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28 01 2015
chrissiedixie

Looks like you were really lucky with the weather that day. We’re off to Ravenglass for a few days in a couple of weeks, so may well do some wandering over that side of the lakes.

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29 01 2015
mountaincoward

Eskdale is one of my favourite valley for strolling about in – extremely pretty with some lovely riverside walking between Doctor Bridge and Dalegarth station. Well worth going up from Ravenglass on the train.
Carol.

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