|Location Map ( geo)|
|From:||Kirkstone Inn (NY400080)|
The Struggle is in many ways a single sided hill pass as it connects to the A592 Kirkstone Pass at the Kirkstone Inn. This means that when heading from the north you have a choice between continuing on the main road south into Windermere or forking right, down The Struggle, to Ambleside.
We therefore start our descent at the Kirkstone Inn, high in the hills between Windermere and Ullswater and rapidly lose 100m of altitude. This is done on a very steep piece of road which only provides bends to lessen the gradient as we approach the Stock Ghyll at the bottom of its little valley. Once across the stream however, the road climbs a little once more, leaving the stream to drop sharply away from us.
On our right, an even steeper track leads up to a quarry, but the road remains fairly level for a while, and is almost wide enough for two cars to pass without slowing. Almost! The road is penned in for most of its length by steeply curved grassy banks and high stone walls, which don't offer much room for manouvere as we continue down the now steepening hill. Windermere is now visible ahead of us, and the road feels narrower although for the moment it is still relatively easy to pass the oncoming traffic. However, the lower we drop, the tighter the little bends and indeed the narrower the road.
With the rooftops of Ambleside now in view, the road squeezes down its narrow channel on the hillside, forcing cars to stop and wait in gateways or slight bulges between the walls. Sometimes a little reversing is called for, but most local traffic is used to this so its only if you meet a rather useless tourist normally acustomed to motorway or modern suburban driving that there is a real problem.
A kink to the right brings us into the top of the town, but the descent is not yet done. After a slight easing of the gradient, a warning sign tells us that it gets steeper once more, and with the buildings now forming the road edges it can seem narrower than ever. However, at the greatly reduced speed that the townscape demands, it is possible for most traffic to pass as we weave between the grey buildings. Another sharper right takes us past the junction with North Road, which can be a bottleneck, and then suddenly we find ourselves at the end. The A591 is ahead, left for the town and Coniston, right takes us back to the north past Grasmere and Thirlmere to Keswick.