Take a lap around the infamous Peak District trio of driving roads - the Snake Pass, Strines Pass and Holme Moss summit
By Craig Toone
It’s not hard to see where this loop got its name from, and once circumnavigated, you’ll understand why. Our paddock is Glossop, brimming the tank at the Tesco Station if necessary. A quick canter down the high street funnels us towards the dislocated jaw of the Snake Pass, which climbs smoothly to its 1,680ft summit.
Allow yourself a brief moment to take in the vista, then it’s down into the belly of the snake. After the openness of the moorland, the tall pine trees initially feel claustrophobic, and the road changes tact in tandem, jinking and diving over a now rough (in places) surface. Once past the dormant Snake Inn - what a Caffeine & Machine style venue that would make - the road surface regains its composure but continues to contort in hypnotic fashion.
The relentless rhythm only lets up once you reach the Ladybower Reservoir, a sneaky spot for the occasional speed trap. You may wish to catch your breath at the popular little bikers café, however we’d press on towards the left hand turn onto the Strines Pass, taking a pit-stop at the aptly named Strines Inn. In summer, you’ll be kept company by the free roaming Peacocks - should you choose to sit outside.
Depending on your choice of car, the Strines Pass will either frustrate or liberate as it flips from well-sighted to single-track and blind. Use caution as you take the left onto the A616, for this section of our route is average speed monitored. Not to worry, the yellow leash is brief and to be honest, the road merely exists to connect the dots to the Hazlehead, from where its full NSL steam ahead to Holmefirth.
The road is very wide, the corners are both tight and open, and it takes some getting used to their on/off carousel camber - this is not a road you will master in one hit. Handily, the car park at the summit acts as the perfect pivot point, allowing you to retrace your footsteps. Depending upon your direction of travel the climb will either tax the torque of the strongest AMG Mercedes, or fry the brakes of the most featherweight of Caterhams. There is a reason this section of our route is used in the UK leg of the Tour de France after all.
Once you’ve finished playing the automotive equivalent of a heavy metal Guitar Hero stream, the descent towards Woodhead Reservoir will feel rather calm. That is, until you hit the section of entertaining yumps. The peaty moorland in these parts is rather prone to subsiding, and several ridges are capable of putting fresh air between tyre and tarmac. The clear sightlines will no doubt egg-on the inner BMX riding child within.
Tread carefully when joining Woodhead road - the T-junction feels like a lucky dip due to the routes being a popular detour for truckers and motorists hustling their way between Manchester and Sheffield. An immediate left takes you onto a rollercoaster B-road that skirts the Reservoir before ricocheting off the notorious Devils Elbow corner, bouncing us back towards Glossop and the journey's end. A series of wisely placed speed bumps will allow any lingering thrill to dissipate before you re-join the High Street, complete with the temptation to go for another ‘lap’.