The UK is home to some truly stunning roads. They provide stunning scenery, and plenty of twists and turns to provide stimulation at high speeds. For this reason, many of the ‘fun’ roads are also among the most dangerous. If the weather’s taken a turn for the worse, then it’s worth exercising caution while driving them – or, better yet, avoiding them altogether. These roads are often used as places to put a new car through its paces – but without the protection of insurance, exercises of this sort can be more costly than they’re worth.
This part of the Pennines, as you might expect, provides plenty of twists and turns – and during cold spells it can get exceptionally slippery thanks to its upland setting. Snake Pass is distinct for being engineered by Thomas Telford, and for providing more than its share of blind summits and hair-raising curves. The descent into Glossop is particularly spectacular – but it’s best enjoyed on a clear summer’s day, when you’ll be able to see all the way to Manchester.
Kirkstone Pass is the highest road in the Lake District, connecting Ambleside and Patterdale via a series of steep slopes. The incline can get as high as 25% in places, and there are drystone walls on either side of the road – which makes it pretty unforgiving if you need to stop suddenly. There’s a pub at the top, the third highest in the UK, which, again, is worth visiting when the weather’s favourable.
Hard Knott Pass
On the other side of Ambleside we find Hard Knott Pass, which leads to one of the most remote forts of the Roman Empire, overlooking the spectacular valley through which the pass actually runs. Extraordinarily, the gradient only gets steeper, here, with the incline matching that of Rosedale Chimney in North Yorkshire, at 33%. Time to shift the gears down! At certain times of year, the conditions here are practically guaranteed to be icy at night – so avoid the trip unless you absolutely have to take it.
Cat and Fiddle Road
Linking Macclesfield and Buxton is this Peak-District pass, which over the years has been responsible for a string of accidents. It’s another road that features a pub, after which it takes its name. There are steep falls from the carriageway and dry-stone walls, again, and a string of fatalities have lead to the road being heavily policed by speed enforcement. Once regularly topping lists of the most dangerous roads in the country, the Cat and Fiddle has since been tamed by average speed checks, which, combined with a range of other measures, have brought down fatalities.