Hard Knott is a fell in the English Lake District located at the
head of Eskdale.
The headwaters of the River Esk and the Duddon
are separated by a ridge falling south west from the summit of Crinkle
Crags. This line of high ground continues over many twists and turns for
15 miles (24 km), finally meeting the sea on the slopes of Black Combe.
From Crinkle Crags the first fell on this ridge is Hard Knott,
followed by Harter Fell and Green Crag.
From the main ridge of
Crinkle Crags a low saddle juts out to the west in the vicinity of the
southernmost Crinkle. This separates the basin of upper Eskdale from the
head of the small marshy valley of Moasdale, down which the Moasdale
Beck flows south to join the River Duddon at Cockley Beck.
west of the saddle the ridge turns southward and gains height, rising
over a series of rocky knolls to the summit of Hard Knott.
Moasdale side has gentle gradients but the western flanks above the Esk
are fringed with crags. One feature on this side is the Eskdale Needle,
(also known as The Steeple) a finger of rock detached from the main
As the Esk and Moasdale Becks diverge, the girth of the
fell increases, until a pair of side valleys intrude to nip off its
southward progress. These streams, both named Hard Knott Gill, fall from
either side of Hardknott Pass, beyond which the ridge climbs again over
a series of crags toward Harter Fell.
The Hardknott Pass joins
Eskdale with the Duddon Valley. There is a steep single-track motor road
over the pass with gradients of up to 30% (1 in 3), reaching a maximum
height of 393 metres (1,289 ft).
The Hardknott Roman Fort stands
at a height of approximately 200 metres (656 ft) on the lower slopes of
the western ridge as it descends into Eskdale.
A roman road from
Ravenglass to Ambleside once crossed the pass, although by a slightly
Hard Knott reaches a height of 549 metres
(1,803 feet), the summit knoll bearing a cairn.
There are other
named tops on the ridge in addition to the summit, with Yew Bank to the
north and Border End to the south.
Hard Knott is famous for its
superb view of the Scafell massif to the north, while Harter Fell
dominates the vista to the south.
For a fabulous view of Eskdale
it is recommended that the walker visits Border End half a mile to the
south of the main summit.
The fell is
usually climbed from the top of the Hardknott Pass where there are
several parking spaces.
It is also possible to begin the ascent
from the foot of the pass in Eskdale, although this will triple the
length of the walk and the height gained.
However, the best plan
is probably to climb Hard Knott in conjunction with the neighbouring
fell of Harter Fell making a horseshoe walk starting and finishing in
From the top of the pass it is a short ascent to the
fell summit following an electric fence that skirts to the right of the
dangerous looking Raven Crag and takes the walker to the summit in a
Other possible routes include a pathless ascent from
the Esk via The Steeple, a circuitous walk via the head of Moasdale and
an ascent of the eastern flanks via Dod Pike.