Buttertubs Pass – A Great British Drive
Time to rest the legs and take to the road. Sounds strange me saying that, about a part of the Yorkshire Dales, but Buttertubs Pass, a road from the bottom of Swaledale over the top and down to Wensleydale, demands attention of the wheeled kind. Only 5 and a half miles of road, but even described by Jeremy Clarkson himself as “England’s only truly spectacular road” and that the view at the top makes him slow down, not just because of the drop, but also because the “view is just epic”! I don’t disagree.
On a fine day if heading into the Yorkshire Dales from Cumbria I take the time to avoid going all around via motorway and A roads. I set off a few minutes earlier and take the wonderful scenic route first over the Howgills from Kirkby Stephen down into Swaledale. From here you get the pleasure heading East through Swaledale itself on the B6270. Quite frankly a most scenic drive in itself. Then upon reaching the little village of Thwaite it is time to get ready to turn right, southwards and upwards and onto Buttertubs pass.
When I tweeted ‘live’ the picture above, where I stopped a while with a flask and sandwich, I got many replies of where?! Well here is the answer. Part way up Buttertubs Pass, looking back down into Swaledale.
The views up, or down the other side into Wensleydale are indeed on the epic side. Of course a fine line occurs between looking around at the gorgeous scenery and keeping an eye on the road as it twists, turns and with steep tight bends.
Then, if heading from north to south you reach the top, and over the brim you get the huge views looking down into Wensleydale, with the unmistakeable sight of Ingleborough standing tall in mid view…
The pass is also famed for wheeled journeys of another kind. Cycling! Having driven it a lot myself, I still could not imagine myself cycling up and down it. I tip my hat to them though that enjoy that kind of thing. In fact the Yorkshire Dales is to be Stage One of the 2014 Tour de France and Buttertubs Pass is to be one of the ‘king of the mountain’ climbs on the stage.
There are a few places to stop and admire the views en route but please be careful to find a spot where you can clear the road. People are being careful of the drops passing by
At the bottom too at the Hawes end you have a wealth of things to see, why even less than half a mile from the ending t junction, to the right, is Hardraw Force.
Now then, to answer the origin of the name Buttertubs… Will explain and show in the next post