Keswick to Kendal via 6 Lake District Passes
View from Keswick across Derwentwater
Starting with a full tank of fuel, this route will take you over 6 of the best passes and travel by 7 of the great lakes within the Lake District National Park.
Thirlmere is the first lake and this route takes you across the dam and along a lesser used road. Thirlmere, at 3.5 miles long, 1.2 mile wide and 158 feet deep, was originally two smaller lakes, which were purchased by Manchester City Corporation Waterworks in 1889. The area was dammed with a dam whose greatest height is 104 feet, and the area became one vast reservoir. In the process, the settlements of Armboth and Wythburn were submerged, the only remaining building being the little church at Wythburn.
Travelling through the pretty villages of Grasmere, Elterwater and Little Langdale will lead you to the first 2 passes, Wrynose and Hardknott.
The Wrynose Pass is a mountain pass between Little Langdale and the Duddon Valley. This is a single-track motor road over the pass, which is one of the steepest roads in England, with gradients up to 1 in 3. At the top of the Wrynose Pass is the Three Shire Stone RP 13, marking the meeting point of the historic counties of Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland.
This leads onto the Hardknott Pass.
The Hardknott Pass is known as one of Britain's most challenging roads. it’s a heart-stopping series of sharp and narrow hairpin bends. It’s said to be the steepest road in England with a gradient of 1 in 3 (about 33%). The bitumen surface can be challenging in itself but this is one of those mythical motorcycle roads that has to be bagged!
Towards the end of the pass are the remains on a second century Roman fort. Hard Knott Fort, known to the Romans as Mediobogdum. The fort, one of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire was built between AD120 and AD138 and can be seen from RP 17.
RP 20 at Eskdale has a pub and cafe that will both serve coffee and snacks.
Skirting around the western edge of the park, you will see the Blakeley Raise Stone Circle at RP 25. This relatively small circle is on a patch of level ground just off the side of the moor road. It was reconstructed in 1925, now having 11 stones in a circle, but there may have been more in the original design.
The third pass is Whinlatter Pass at RP 30, it is a far less severe route than many of its counterparts such as Newlands, Honister, Wrynose and Hardknot. A viewpoint at the end offers good views towards Bassenthwaite Lake.
Next is pass number 4 Newlands Pass, this is a three-mile-long road running along a ledge above the Newlands Valley. The highest point is Newlands Hause, 333 metres (1093 feet), where there is a car park, and a short walk to the Moss Force Waterfalls RP 34.
Then you'll be at the Honister Pass.
Pass number 5, The Honister Pass, rises to 1167 feet at the summit, it is one of Cumbria’s highest passes, with a gradient of 1 in 4. It is also home to Honister Slate Mine at RP 38, England's last working slate mine. Slate has been mined at Honister Slate Mine for centuries…from occupying Romans to ancient Monks and Victorian pioneers. Working 11 miles of underground tunnels to extract the slate, the company now offers contemporary products alongside the originals. Worth stopping for a look around.
Back into Keswick now for some lunch. RP 42 marks some secure motorcycle parking and tables and chairs from the Oddfellows Arms. I can recommend their food from our visit in 2015 and looking at some reviews, things haven't changed.
After lunch you will ride past Ullswater.
Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District at 7.5 miles long. It is on average 3/4 mile wide and has a maximum depth of 205 feet at Howtown. Pass through Glenridding and onto the last of the passes, pass 6 The Kirkstone Pass.
The Kirkstone Pass with an altitude of 1,489 feet is the Lake District’s highest pass that is open to motor traffic. The Kirkstone Pass Inn stands close to the summit of the pass. Formerly an important coaching inn, it now caters primarily for tourists. It is the third highest public house in England and a great place for photo's. Opposite the Inn is a aptly named road called The Struggle; It is very apt for the hundreds of cyclists that climb it's steep twisty route. No struggle when you have an engine ;)
This will lead you to Ambleside and the banks of Windermere Lake for a coffee or icecream.
Windermere lake, at 10.5 miles long, one mile wide and 220 feet deep, is the largest natural lake in both the Lake District and in England, and is fed by numerous rivers. Strictly speaking, Windermere lake is just called Windermere, with “mere” meaning a lake that is broad in relation to its depth. However here, to avoid confusion with Windermere Village, we refer to it as Windermere lake. The route follows the lake for a short while before heading towards Kendal and The Gateway Inn.
The Gateway Inn is an idyllic country inn set in a great location for easy access to the Lake District and Dales and just a short trip to the town of Kendal. This recently refurbished Inn has 8 guest bedrooms, all beautifully decorated to a high standard. The Bar is warm and welcoming with a cozy open fire to see in the cold winter nights and for the summer nights there is a large beer garden and terrace with additional seating.

This route has earned a 5***** star rating for the exceptional landscapes and scenery.
Start of the Hardknott Pass
Honister Pass
Useful links:
Claremont House B&B, Keswick
The Gateway Inn, Kendal
The Honister Slate Mine
2015 video Wrynose and Hardknott Passes.

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Nick Carthew - RouteXpert
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View route collection The Ultimate 10 Day (North) UK Tour
About this route collection
Starting from and returning to Harwich ferry port, this tour follows the east coast of England up to the Highlands of Scotland and returns via the Lake District. It visits 6 of the UK's national parks and explores 2 islands and visits 2 James Bond 007 film locations.

Daily highlights.
Day 1, Harwich to Wells Next the Sea:
Southwold lighthouse, Cromer Crab lunch and sleeping on a Dutch barge.

Day 2, Wells Next the Sea to Middlesbrough:
Royal Sandringham Estate, Humber Bridge, a lap of Oliver's Mount, North York Moors National Park, Whitby Abbey the inspiration for Dracula.

Day 3, Middlesbrough to Dundee:
Tees Transporter Bridge, Angel of the North, Bamburgh Castle, Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Day 4, Dundee to Inverness:
Cairngorms National Park, Balmoral Castle, Whisky Distilleries.

Day 5, Inverness to Ullapool:
Exceptional Landscapes, Falls of Shin, Loch Drumbeg Viewpoint, Kylesku Bridge.

Day 6, Ullapool to Dornie:
Kinlochewe viewpoint, Applecross Pass, Isle of Skye.

Day 7, Dornie to Keswick:
Eilean Donan Castle (007), Glencoe Pass, Glen Etive (007), Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

Day 8, Keswick to Kendal:
A tour of the Lake District National Park visiting 6 of the best passes including Wrynose Pass and Hardknott Pass and 7 of the great lakes including Ullswater and Windermere.

Day 9, Kendal to Matlock:
Yorkshire Dales National Park, Ribblehead Viaduct, Peak District National Park, Snake Pass, Matlock Bath (motorcycle Mecca).

Day 10, Matlock to Harwich:
Heckington Windmill, Moulton Windmill, Dutch Quarter in Colchester.

By starting from Harwich, this tour avoids the traffic congestion of the south east and London making it perfect for European visitors wanting to see some of the best landscapes and sights that the north of the UK has to offer.
The cost of the ferry from Hoek Van Holland to Harwich return for motorcycle and rider costs £139.00 (163.51 Euro) (in 2019) which includes a cabin on the outward leg.
Where possible, motorways have been avoided and scenic routes are used every day.