Buttertubs Pass, Yorkshire Dales, UK

We look at many types of roads in this series, each with seemingly different characters. While there are some that can carry a little speed thanks to open sight lines and a suitably smooth surface, from time to time we also look at the opposite; hills, twists, turns and summits. This entry is just one of those. We’re looking at the Buttertubs Pass in the Yorkshire Dales.

Weaving north away from the market town of Hawes and heading to the rural village of Thwaite, the road hacks its way through empty moorland over some serious hills.

So serious, in fact, that the Buttertubs Pass attracts many cyclists, who relish the challenging climb. It has even featured in organised races like the Tour de Yorkshire, where it is called the Cote de Buttertubs. Be warned if you try to go in July, as there will be throngs of people lining the route.


We’re attracted to those same hills because, as we’ve often noted, the rising road offers a useful feature to work the car against. Unlike the cyclist, though, we have the famous flat six! If you get out of third gear, you’re missing the point of the route. This isn’t one to push onwards in haste, instead it is one to enjoy the landscape.

Leaving Hawes behind, the road rises, but it isn’t until the houses thin out that the climb properly starts, peaking to around 18 per cent in places.

Cyclists will probably allow 18 minutes and plenty of wheezing to the summit, but we can simply enjoy the rise, looking left to Great Shunner Fell, and a seemingly endless horizon in our rear view mirror. The name Hawes aptly means ‘pass between mountains’.


On the summit, we thread down the side of a valley, around a hairpin and steadily down towards Thwaite, with only sheep, characteristic dry stone walls and the odd picturesque barn for company.

So often, driving is about reaching somewhere, by a set time. Here, for once, the point is merely to enjoy your 911 being somewhere different, so take your time. Stop off and walk to the limestone potholes where travelling farmers would take a pause and cool their butter and cheese in the depths of the buttertubs.

Just out of Hawes there is a small parking spot where you can stop for a picnic, with nothing to see but your 911 and layered, distant hills. Your other half may not enjoy the smell of hot oil wafting across your lunch, but hey, with the rear wing up at least you have your own picnic table.


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