(See also Honister Slate Mine)
Just past Gatesgarth Farm at the southern end of Buttermere is the beginning of Honister Pass. It connects the Buttermere valley with the eastern end of Borrowdale valley. Rising to 1167 feet in height at the summit, it's one of Cumbria's highest passes. The road's gradient is 1 in 4.
Taking a horse drawn carriage over the pass was a popular trip during Victorian times. Men who took the coach were expected to walk up the pass from Seatoller (Borrowdale) to the summit to relieve the strain on the horses. Today's visitors use the summit as the start of a walk up to Great Gable or Dale Head (2473 ft). Flowing through the pass from the summit to Buttermere is Gatesgarthdale Beck.
Old slate quarries and Honister Hause Youth Hostel (in an old quarry workers' building) sit atop the bleak and treeless summit where the view of Honister Crag is on order.
A man named George Smith described Honister Pass in the Gentlemen's Magazine as “terrifying... dreadful solitude... desolate and waste, like the ruins of a world...”
Needless to say, he was a bit melodramatic in his imaginative observations. Although driving Honister Pass can be challenging in the winter months, the road, connecting the beauty of the Buttermere and Borrowdale valleys, unfolds the dramatic scenery of the Lakeland mountains.
Honister Pass is on the B5289 between Buttermere and Seatoller.
Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal
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