Discover Hartside Pass: A Gateway to Cumbria

by | Activities, Alston, Attractions, Discover Alston, Hartside Pass, Things to do in Alston

Explore the Iconic Hartside Pass

Nestled in the heart of the North Pennines National Landscape, Hartside Pass is a marvel of natural beauty and a beloved destination for travellers. As one of the most scenic routes in the UK, Hartside Pass offers a unique blend of history, breathtaking views, and diverse wildlife, making it an essential experience for anyone visiting Cumbria.

The Iconic Hartside Pass Road

A winding road ascending through the Hartside Pass.

The iconic Hartside Road offers one of the most scenic drives in the UK, meandering through the picturesque North Pennines.

Hartside Pass is renowned for its winding, picturesque road that ascends to an impressive 1,904 feet above sea level. This iconic route, part of the A686, is frequently cited as one of the greatest driving roads in the UK. The road meanders through the Pennines, offering drivers and cyclists an exhilarating journey with spectacular views at every turn.

Breathtaking Views

Panoramic view from the summit of Hartside Pass, showcasing the Eden Valley and distant mountains.

The summit of Hartside Pass provides breathtaking views of the Eden Valley and the Lake District, stretching even to the Southern Uplands of Scotland on clear days.

The ascent to the summit of Hartside Pass rewards travelers with panoramic vistas that stretch across the Eden Valley, towards the Lake District and beyond. On a clear day, it is even possible to see the peaks of Scotland’s Southern Uplands. These views are a major draw for photographers and nature lovers alike, providing endless opportunities to capture the rugged beauty of the British countryside.

Hartside Café: A Welcoming Rest Stop

Artist's impression of the new Hartside Cafe building.

An artist’s rendering of the new Hartside Cafe, set to open in 2024, featuring a modern design that blends seamlessly with the surrounding landscape of Hartside Pass.

At the summit of Hartside Pass once stood the famous Hartside Café, a beloved spot for motorists, cyclists, and hikers to rest and refuel. Known for its hearty meals and warm atmosphere, the café was a cherished part of the Hartside experience until it was sadly destroyed by fire in 2018. Plans for rebuilding were confirmed in 2024, reflecting the café’s importance to the local community and visitors.

Wildlife and Natural Beauty

A curlew standing on the ground in the grasslands, ideal for birdwatching on Hartside.

A curlew in the grasslands below Hartside Summit, showcasing the rich birdwatching opportunities on Hartside.

Hartside Pass is not just about the views; it is also a haven for wildlife. The surrounding moorland is home to a variety of bird species, including the curlew, golden plover, and red grouse. The diverse flora and fauna make it a prime spot for nature enthusiasts and bird watchers. Seasonal changes bring different aspects of beauty, from the blooming heather in late summer to the snow-covered landscape in winter.

A Key Segment of the C2C Route

A cyclist posing with their bike at the summit sign of Hartside Pass.

Hartside Pass is a key segment of the C2C cycle route, challenging and rewarding cyclists with its steep ascent and stunning views.

Hartside Pass is a significant part of the Coast to Coast (C2C) cycle route, one of the UK’s most popular long-distance cycling challenges. The route spans from the Irish Sea to the North Sea, and the climb up Hartside is often regarded as one of the most demanding yet rewarding sections. Cyclists from around the world come to test their endurance on this challenging ascent.

Historical Significance

The snow-covered Hartside Road winding through a winter landscape.

In winter, Hartside Pass transforms into a magical snowy landscape, offering a different kind of beauty and adventure.

The history of Hartside Pass is as rich as its natural beauty. The road has been used for centuries, originally serving as a packhorse trail. It has evolved over time, becoming a critical route for trade and travel across the Pennines. The pass has witnessed countless journeys, each contributing to the tapestry of its storied past.

Gateway to Cumbria

A scenic view of the road leading to the summit of Hartside Pass with rolling hills in the background.

The journey to Hartside Summit is filled with dramatic landscapes and panoramic views, making it a memorable gateway to Cumbria.

Hartside Pass is often seen as the gateway to Cumbria, providing a dramatic entrance to this beautiful county. As you descend from the summit, the rolling hills and lush landscapes of Cumbria unfold before you, inviting exploration and adventure. This gateway serves as a prelude to the wonders of the Lake District, offering a tantalizing glimpse of what lies ahead.

The Ideal Base: Salvin House

For those looking to explore Hartside Pass in depth, Salvin House offers the perfect base. Located within easy reach of the pass, Salvin House provides comfortable self-catering accommodation and a warm welcome to travellers. Its convenient location makes it an ideal starting point for excursions into the surrounding areas, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the beauty and history of Hartside Pass.

Hartside Pass is a destination that offers something for everyone, from stunning views and rich history to challenging cycling routes and diverse wildlife. It stands as a testament to the natural beauty of Northern England and serves as an unforgettable gateway to the treasures of Cumbria. Whether you are a driver, cyclist, hiker, or nature enthusiast, Hartside Pass promises an experience that will stay with you long after you have left its winding roads behind.



Rob Lawson is a property investor and communications consultant who grew up in the South Tyne Valley. With a deep passion for historical preservation, he fell in love with Salvin House and committed to restoring it to its former glory. With a vision that blends respect for its heritage and modern comforts, Rob has revived this historic gem for future generations to appreciate.


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