Snake Pass

Snake Pass, one of the best drives in the UK

Snake Pass is a mountain pass at an elevation of 510m (1,680ft) above the sea level, located between Manchester and Sheffield in Northern England. The pass is traversed by the A57 road.

The surface of the road is paved with some steep parts. The road which passes over the high ground between the flatter moorland, as its name suggests is a winding twisty road with lots of elevation changes and adverse cambers, and can be very slippery in poor weather conditions. Parliament approved its construction in 1818, engineered by Thomas Telford, and the road opened to the public in 1821. Tolls continued to be collected on the road until 1870.

Is the Snake Pass open?

The road over the pass is often closed in winter months as the bending roads become icy, but it can be closed anytime when the access is not cleared of snow. It is one of the first roads closed in Britain due to snow and can be very slippery in poor weather conditions. It has seen several longer-term closures owing to subsidence following heavy rain.

Is the Snake Pass dangerous?

It is a truly hair-raising ride replete with tricky bends and blind summits crossing the Pennines. It’s quite twisty with several blind summits, as well as dangerous curves. It is a road that every driving enthusiast should drive. The road has superb views and the scenery is exceptional, particularly at the start of the descent into Glossop from where you can see to Manchester and beyond on a clear day.

How long is Snake Pass?

There are 2 routes to reach the summit. Starting from Ashopton, the ascent is 14 km long. Over this distance, the elevation gain is 302 meters. The average percentage is 2.2 %. Starting from Glossop, the ascent is 7 km long. Over this distance, elevation gain is 362 meters. Snake Pass is one of only a few road climbs in the UK that are comparable in length and average gradient (approximately 7% for around 3.2 miles (5.1 km) when starting in Glossop) to those used in continental cycle racing. It has frequently featured in the Tour of Britain.


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