UK’s most dangerous winter roads

UK’s most dangerous winter roads
UK’s most dangerous winter roads

Winter brings increased danger on every road as rain, snow and ice make surfaces treacherous and shorter daylight hours and fog affect visibility.

But some roads are more dangerous than others, with tricky corners, steep gradients and other unusual features adding to the risk drivers face.

As the weather deteriorates and conditions on the roads worsen, a new list of the country’s most dangerous roads in winter has been compiled.

Read more: Top tips for driving in snow and ice

Tim Alcock of LeaseCar.uk, which developed the list by looking at accident data as well as the path of the roads and exposure to bad weather, said: “When we lease out our cars, we are very careful to advise customers on the perils of getting behind the wheel during winter months, and particularly, travelling on these infamously dangerous roads.

“No matter how long you have been driving, if the road is icy and you are driving along one of these routes, the risk of you crashing is unfortunately very high – that’s why we like to recommend other routes.

“But for some this is not a viable option, so little things like equipping your vehicle with winter tyres and ensuring satisfactory visibility will unquestionably improve your safety on dangerous routes during the harsh winter months.”

Cat and Fiddle

winter danger roads

From Macclesfield in Cheshire to Buxton in Derbyshire, driving on this peak district stretch of the A537 has carried a persistently high risk of serious crashes over recent years.

Named in honour of the Cat and Fiddle Inn at its summit, which was the second highest pub in the country, this route is popular among bikers and perhaps the most dangerous road in Britain.

Snake Pass

The Snake Pass, which has a poor accident record, was engineered by Thomas Telford, between the Ladybower Reservoir at Ashopton and Glossop in the Pennines, and first opened in 1821.

It carries the A57 and was once the main signposted route between Manchester and Sheffield, but authorities have since thought better of directing traffic towards this treacherous trail, which is particularly vulnerable to snow and subsidence.

Berriedale Braes on the A9

Located on one of Scotland’s most dangerous roads, this section poses a risk to all drivers who don’t approach it with caution. The road drops from a height of 492 feet to 65 feet as it enters a valley and features a challenging hairpin at the centre of it. Construction of planned improvements has been put forward, costing £9 million. But until this is completed it will remain one a challenging section of road.

Kirkstone Pass

winter danger roads

Described as a mountain pass, the Lake District’s highest road reaches an elevation of almost 1,500 feet to link Ambleside to Patterdale.

The Struggle is what the locals call the road used to get to this section of the A592, so it is easy to imagine how difficult tackling the Kirkstone Pass itself could be.

Cairnwell Pass

The tricky mountain pass is located nearly 2,200 feet above sea level, making it the highest main road in the UK. The road is usually open all year but can be closed in extreme conditions. However, drivers still need to be aware even when the road is open as sharp double-hairpin bends can take their toll.

Skyfall Road – A82

Picture: Shutterstock

Most famous for being featured in the blockbuster James Bond film, Skyfall, the road still poses serious risk to its road users. Located in the Highlands at the start of the A82, the road is narrow with tight hairpin bends not wide enough for two vehicles. Drivers must take care particular during the winter months when black ice can be frequent, humbling even the best of drivers.

Rosedale Chimney Bank

winter danger roads

With an average gradient of over 10 per cent and a maximum of around one in three, the Rosedale Chimney Bank is known as the Chain Breaker by cyclists but poses a steep challenge for even the strongest motor vehicle.

This highway takes minor traffic through the hills of the North Yorkshire Moors, between Rosedale Abbey and Hutton-le-Hole.

Bealach na Ba

Bealach Na Ba features 20% gradients and tight switchbacks. Picture: Shutterstock

This tight, twisting, single-track mountain road is the third highest road in Scotland, rising over 2000 feet in places. Regular gradients of 20 per cent are common on this road, which should not be attempted by the faint hearted. The road to Applecross was built in 1822 and it is advised that learner drivers, very large vehicles and caravans should not continue after the first mile, leaving only the most experienced drivers to tackle the road.

Hardknott Pass

winter danger roads

The local road between Eskdale and the Duddon Valley in the Cumbrian Lake District, the Hardknott Pass is one of the steepest roads in England (with views as far as the Isle of Man on clear days).

A road was first constructed in the area by the Roman army, the name is taken from the Old Norse words for hard, craggy hill and it is one of the most challenging routes in Britain due to a series of hairpin bends and the high risk of ice.

Woodhead Pass

The Woodhead Pass, or A628, is another route between Manchester and South Yorkshire, through the Peak District National Park.

It is often exposed to high winds and other bad weather due to its altitude, but this does not discourage large amounts of heavy traffic using the road, increasing the potential danger on this route.

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