Posted: 28 Oct 2011
Snake Pass is the section of the A57 in the Peak District between Glossop and the Ladybower reservoir.
“The main reason for my love of the Snake Pass is the glorious scenery and the road itself. My preferred route is from Bamford onto the Snake alongside Ladybower Reservoir, travelling towards Glossop. I ride a Ducati sports bike and this is the perfect rode for a Duke. It is the closest thing to the mountain section of the Isle of Man TT that I know, so it should also be said that it is dangerous and the police constantly watch it with helicopters, stationary cameras and mobile units.
“Some of the hazards include sheep wandering on the road, walkers suddenly appearing, cyclists riding two abreast… and more as well as the usual spillages from trucks. Keep these possibilities in your mind, make sure you have a plan B for every section and don’t get beyond your limits.
“The first stage of the run from the dam wall at Bamford has a 50 mph limit and people crossing to go down the road on your right. Expect cars pulling out and parking after 9 or 10am. Once you pass the road on your right you can open things up into the first long right hand bend. The surface can be variable and don’t get too close to the middle of the road as there may be oncoming traffic.
“This is a really quick section with good visibility and the start of the real fun. The police put a camera van in the lay-by on your left at the end of this first section, and further down on another fairly straight section. Once you get into a rhythm on the Snake on a bike like a Duke, you can just ride from bend to bend in one gear using the throttle to get the line you want.
“All the way along the second section there is bend after bend, some fast some very fast and others with a reducing radius that can cause you to panic. Get into the bend and don’t grab your brakes too hard – try and drive through the corners. There are probably three or four bends on this mid-section that also have very sharp rises and falls as you go into the bends – one or two will lift your rear wheel off the floor if you are going for it.
“Always watch the signs around you and read the white lines as they will guide you through what is approaching. If you don’t understand what the different lengths gaps and types of lines mean, learn about them as they will save your life.
“After the fast section alongside Ladybower reservoir, you will see signs for the Snake Inn pub. Watch for cars turning and walkers, there a few good paths that cross the road around this area. The surface is a bit hit-and-miss, and can cause you to run a little loose but you shouldn’t be going quickly here anyway.
“Once past the pub, my favourite section starts. You can start to really get a move on now and there is flat-out long curve leading to fast left hand bend. There is another lay-by on the right of this bend with a tea wagon. Keep your mind on the road and a tight entry line – you do not want to run wide here on the exit into oncoming traffic.
“Once through this bend, it is absolutely flat-out through the forest. As you come over a slight rise and go into a fast long right curve, you might jump out of your skin because of the flashing red sign warning you about your speed! Obviously I have never gone fast enough to light it up, although I am told that this is major distraction as there is now a lot of braking, down shifting and lining up for a tight left hander.
“From here up to the highest section, there are a number of flowing right-left flicks – watch out for spillages and gravel on the corners.
“On the high point, the Pennine Way crosses the road and there is some car parking allowed. If you approach at speed, don’t forget the cars may be setting off from a standstill and not really expecting you and neither will the walkers. Take care of them and yourself.
“The section running from the high point into the Glossop is a series of very fast open and some very tight corners. Don’t overstep yourself until you learn them as you can get sucked into these bends going too fast. There is no room for error here, just a big Armco barrier waiting for you.
“The last tight left hander alongside the golf course has a nice big grid in the middle of the road right where you want to be. You then drop down into Glossop, knock your speed right off now – Glossop has a 30 mph limit and people live there.
“This road will give you every kind of biking experience – even if you stay within the speed limit, which I always do of course. Keep your wits about you, be prepared for the unexpected and have fun! This is fabulous biking road – I usually get there before 7am on a dry day, just me, the sheep and few other brave souls. One of my favourite films has the words “fill your head and with jewels” on a clear morning this ride will do the trick. See you there.” Dave Fitz
“The reason I like Snake Pass is because it is a sweeping high speed road. Snake Pass has the right mix of sweeping high speed corners and slower tighter ones with a good mix of straights. The road has several hills and drops and has just had large sections re-paved. The views from the Glossop side on the moors match the stunning sights of the Derwent Valley. It’s definitely a Sunday morning favourite, when the traffic is light." Chris Pittman
“I am very fortunate to be located next to two of the finest riding roads in the UK – if not Europe – in the Snake Pass (A57) and the Woodhead Pass (A628). However it is the Snake Pass that gives me the greatest amount of joy, packed with just about everything from stunning views of moorland, woodland and reservoirs to roadside beverage counters, pubs and places of great interest.
“It’s packed with open road and popular with all enthusiasts due to all the twists, turns and straights you could wish for, which makes it difficult to pick out a favorite section. I especially like to ride it in the early evening or at weekends when it’s a bit freer of people who are heading over from Sheffield to Manchester.
“I would normally join the Snake Pass from the small village of Bamford and head to the old Mill Town of Glossop. Stopping off at one of the beverage bars just after the Ladybower reservoir for a drink and a chat with any fellow riders. The Snake Pass has it all and a must for any rider.” Gary Lewis