Drive over Wrynose and Hardknott mountain passes!
In the days before Wainwright, Wordsworth and wooly sheep, Romans roamed the Lake District. Here in their largest numbers during the time of Hadrian; his famous boundary wall runs just north of the National Park. Few clues are now left to the casual observer of their time spent here, mostly thanks to the local people “recycling” Roman building materials for their own purposes. But look a bit closer, and a story unravels.
Drive along the northern shore of Windermere (as most of our tours do), just past Waterhead Bay, and you’ll find all that remains of a large Roman Fort named Galava. The lake was used by the Romans for transport – much easier to move large bulky items on water than road, so this was an important spot. Twenty miles west stood a large port named Ravenglass, the major Roman port in the North of England; to connect the two, a road was built.
What do you know about Roman Roads? All roads lead to Rome? This one doens’t. How about Roman Roads are Straight? Wrong again. Although, if you look at a map and squint a little, the road does indeed run in roughly a straight line from Ambleside to Ravenglass. However, because the Romans simply picked the shortest route, it wasn’t exactly the easiest.
Firstly the Wrynose Pass rising up to 393 meters and traversing some amazing mountain terrain, this mountain pass offers terrific views and interesting history lessons. Watch out for sheep and cyclists! These roads are some of the toughest cycling challenges in the UK so a bike or two is common - give them a cheer of encouragement! Your driver will stop for photos, if you’re brave enough to face the wind which usually dominates the top of this pass. Your guide will tell you about the three shires stones too.
Dropping down into the Duddon Valley, you'll learn all about how the British Military taught tank drivers in this deserted and uninhabited valley.
Continue along the old Roman Road and you'll find yourself at the Hardknott Pass, the steepest and most demanding road in England. Not for the faint-hearted driver, but an exciting and unique experience for the passenger, The Hardknott Pass is an unforgettable journey to some of the most spectacular views in England, looking over Eskdale and onto the Irish Sea and even the Isle of Man. Rising to an identical 393 meters, it feels much higher, especially if there is a bit of cloud.
Over the otherside, you’ll drop into Eskdale, a prestine valley home to many more sheep than people. Why not take a lunch stop at the perfect Brook House Inn? or ride on the miniature Ravenglass-Eskdale Steam railway? which was left over from the mining in the area. Continue along this valley, and you may inadvertently find yourself at what is known as Britain’s Favourite View - the magnificent Wastwater.
Why drive yourself?
Here at Mountain Goat, we have the ability to take you over these mountain passes without any stress or worry, but with 100% of the excitment. Your driver will not only introduce the area in a fun and charasmatic way, but also give you the chance to enjoy the views as you climb higher and higher. Everything mentioned here including the train ride, the pub lunch and even Wastwater is available on our High Adventure Tour - the most exciting day on British highway.