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Approaching the summit from the Snake Inn
Descending into Glossop

The Snake Pass is the name given to the higher reaches of the A57 road where it crosses the Peak District between Manchester and Sheffield in the north of England.

More specifically, the name usually refers to the section between the town of Glossop and the Ladybower reservoir, where the road passes over the high ground between the moorland plateaux of Kinder Scout and Bleaklow (the highest point is 512 metres (1,680 ft) above sea level).

The road was first built as a toll road in 1820 as the most direct route between the two cities. In the 20th century the more northerly route of the Woodhead Pass, which is less steep and at a lower altitude, became the primary road link between Manchester and Sheffield.

The Snake Pass passes through the National Trust's High Peak Estate, and lies within the High Peak borough of Derbyshire. Much of it falls within the Hope Woodlands parish.

The road has a poor accident record.[1] In winter, the road is often the first of the available routes between Sheffield and Manchester to be closed due to snow in the area. There are areas where the road surface has very poor skid resistance and a number of bends have adverse camber.

On 25 January 2008, a landslip due to heavy rain caused the road to be closed to all traffic between Ladybower and Glossop, although access was still available to local premises and businesses including the Snake Pass Inn.[2] On the 11 March 2008, the road opened again, but with temporary traffic lights at the point of the slip restricting traffic to one direction at a time. The repairs were completed in August 2008.


Origins of the name

The name of the road does match its winding route, but actually derives from the emblem of the Snake Inn, one of the few buildings on the high stretch of road. In turn, the pub's name and sign was derived from the serpent on the Cavendish arms of the Duke of Devonshire. In recent times, the Snake Inn was renamed the "Snake Pass Inn", so the Inn is now named after the road, and not the other way round, as was originally the case.


Snake Pass is one of only a few road climbs in the UK that are comparable in length and average gradient (approximately 7% for around 3.2 miles (5.1 km) when starting in Glossop) to those used in continental cycle racing. For this reason it has frequently featured in the Tour of Britain along with another nearby favourite Holme Moss.

Cycling Time Trials sanctioned hill climbs are regularly promoted on this course by local club Glossop Kinder Velo. The course record currently stands at just over 10 minutes.


  1. ^ Full Application - Installation of 6.4m Pole-Mounted Antenna - application to install police radio mast 800m west of Snake Pass summit
  2. ^ Derbyshire County Council - Snake Pass closed

External links

Coordinates: 53°25′45″N 1°52′25″W / 53.42922°N 1.87354°W / 53.42922; -1.87354

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