The pass is the only road in my neck of the woods with pass in its name. It’s not the highest road in the area in absolute terms, which honour goes to its near southern sister, nor in the difference between the top and the bottom, which is claimed by another sibling to the east, but it feels higher because of the very steep drop down to the east side of the road. It certainly feels high in winter when the snow is blowing horizontally across the fell, the tarmac is icy, and the road home, which you can see from the top snaking down the valley below, seems a heck of a long way down.
From the south the climb is a few steep bits followed by a long moorland drag up to the top. From the north its just steep and some more steep then a bit of steep. The weather is often terrible. The pass is sometimes closed for days although of all the high roads between the two valleys this one allegedly has the first claim on any action to clear it. In March this year from the northern foot of the pass the only clue to the existance of a road at all was the ‘road closed’ sign erected on top of the drifts. In summer the pass forms part of a traditional loop followed by old folks driving around with tartan rugs on their laps and slighty less old folks on very powerful motorcycles so I prefer the pass in winter; snow, ice, wind and fear of going up there and not coming back down included.
Strength-sapping climbs, vertiginous descents, precipitous drops, snow and ice, gales, nutters on motorbikes and idiots in sports cars, a couple of treacherous cattle grids, and nearby competition from some of the best roads you’ll ever ride on a bike in the country, I love riding over the pass. I love riding it from both ends and if I haven’t ridden it for a while I start to dream about it. They might have to bury me up there although they probably won’t have to carry me far as in all probability that is where I will have expired anyway, although I hope it will have been because of the elements and not because I was balancing on my bike in the middle of the road taking pictures for the blog as I can be quite hard to see in black and white.