Back to the Lakes Part 1: Wrynose Pass and Coniston Water

It's been six months since I ventured out into the Lake District in Cumbria, England.  The previous time I had visited in the autumn months and it was cold wet and rainy.  This time I wasn't expecting all that much different, the west coast of northern England and Scotland are always rainy.  However upon arriving in Windermere I saw that it had snowed... in late March? Really?

The route I had planned was similar to the route I had done on the first day of the previous trip, except this one was slightly less ambitious being shorter and only going up Wrynose pass which is a little easier (relative term!)  than Hardknott pass which I struggled over.

First we set off from the snow sprinkled shores of Lake Winderemere, you could see there had been a decent dusting of snow on the hilltops in the distance as well.  Luckily it wasn't too cold at about 8ºC and only very light misty rain.

A warning perhaps of things to come...  We decided to tackle the hardest bits of the ride first so we headed off in the direction of Wrynose pass. I was quite eager to see the pass and the valley itself as last time I pedalled through there, there was no visual reward for my efforts climbing up the pass; only heavy rain and cold in complete darkness.

We edged closer and closer to Wrynose pass... it felt like a storm brewing.

It starts here.  The gradient was very steep and my 34t-32t bottom gear proved it's worth in this battle against gravity.  As I remember the road was narrow, potholed and it was easy to run off the side, particularly if you were weaving diagonally across the road like I was.  It was also a particularly windy day, however it wasn't too bad as the pass itself was in the wind shadow.

Slowly I weaved my way up the pass and looked back briefly into Little Langdale, you can see the pass to the left of the picture.

The final part of the ascent, flanked by a guard of honour made from rock.

Finally the summit was reached, at this point the wind was immense. It must have been gusting at 100+ km/h, I found I was nearly knocked off my bike by the frequent gusts.  Right at the top was the Three Shire stone marking where the counties of Cumbria, Lancashire and Westmorland meet.  Finally I made it, and it felt a bit easier than last time, it was definitely more scenic than the claustrophobic tunnel of light I had to contend with last time.

I could hardly see at this point, the wind was gusting towards me so intensely that the raindrops were stinging my face like a hail of bullets.  We had to get through this to get to the Duddon valley at the bottom.  Again there were a few times where I felt it might be more sensible to turn around, but we soldiered on into the valley...

Our two matching Genesis bikes :)

The Duddon valley was a complete contrast to Wrynose pass, it was sunny and calm, lush and green.  The valley was sheltered from the prevailing western wind and had a few small villages in it as well where we stopped for lunch.

It was then onto Torver and out to Coniston water, we crossed through to Esthwaite water which is one of the smaller and lesser known lakes in the area.

The story continues in Part 2...


  1. Hehe, you'd love it there Hugh.

  2. It looks like a perfect place for some bicycle touring, I've done so little riding recently, consecutive bouts of the flu. Have been considering the purchase of a pop top camper van, if that happens, i'm moving to a setup like yours, i'll get a bike rack for the back, and find a frame with clearance for wider tyres.