That Garburn is, arguably, one of the easiest passes in the Lakes should give you a good indication of the calibre of the others. Yet don’t let bravado get in the way of taking on what is a classic Lakes trail and the best starting point for any mountain pass virgin.
At the western end is Troutbeck – the gateway to High Street – and it’s from this side that we prefer to begin any assault on Garburn. There’s nothing stopping you from tackling it east to west, and much of the appeal of Garburn is that it has its challenges and rewards whichever way you choose, but harvesting gradient always seems that much easier approaching from this side, and the raucous S-bends into Kentmere are so much sweeter at full chat than walking pace with a bike slung on your shoulder.
Either way, expect rocks. Expect big, loose, scary rocks. A relentless conveyer belt of pulverised bedrock, to be honest. To climb it you’ll need technique, power, fitness, agility and a fortune-teller’s ability to read the path ahead. On the way down you’ll need rubber joints, bones of steel and a well-secured set of fillings.
Garburn can be combined into a well-worn figure-of-eight that incorporates Green Quarter Fell and Cocklaw Fell then loops back to Kentmere and across to High Borrans before taking on the mighty pass itself.