Sunday, April 12, 2009


It was an experiment. Can I get our van (half full of beer) over Hardknott pass?

The Lake District is famous for having a large bunch of pointy hard things in the middle, with a number of large flat wet things scattered about between them. This makes for some very attractive views, but it can be a beggar to drive around. Getting past all these obstacles is troublesome - you'll use a lot of diesel and time if you stick to the good roads.

Getting from Eskdale to Langdale was the problem - and Hardknott pass could have been the answer. I've been over there in all sorts of beat-up old cars, vans and mini-buses in the past, and while it has been hairy at times, I've made it. Unfortunately, this time, quite a lot of water was running over the road surface, and one particularly smooth wet patch at one of the wicked hairpin bends proved too much for the limited traction of the (usually trusty) old rear-wheel drive van.

"Oh dear", I exclaimed (or something like that). Still, all I had to do was reverse a couple of bends and then I'd be able to do a 3-point turn and scarper. Sadly, on one of those bends, I lost it a bit and put one of the rear wheels off the road. At this point, I exclaimed something a lot more forceful, because now I was pretty much stuffed. With one of the driving wheels spinning uselessly in mid air there was no going up-hill. Equally, there was no going down - unless I wanted to career down the slope into the gill. At least I wasn't blocking the road.

A few hours later - when the tow-truck arrived - I was borderline hypothermic, really bored and running rather late. So I had to belt back down Eskdale, over Birker fell, up the Duddon and on to Wrynose. The beer did get through, and we had an answer to the question posed above: Our van won't go over Hardknott - at least not in the wet - Maybe I should try again in the dry?