BB0628 Knocking off Wainwrights "directissimo" plus Skiddaw!

18th October 2006

Readers (if indeed there are any) may have noticed recently how Bryan has been subtly influencing our outings to cover hills he needs in order to complete his nth collection of Wainwrights.  More overtly this time, he offered his list of 18 walks that he plans to do to knock off the 80 or so he has left and asked if any took our fancy.

Inspired by our Blencathra walk last week, when I noticed "Lonscale Fell / Skiddaw Little Man / Dodd" on the list, I suggested we did this but, as we would be so close, we should add on Skiddaw.  I realise we had been there on 26th August 2004 but the visibility had been poor and as the forecast this time was promising, it seemed too good a chance to miss.  So you can blame me for the added height.  Or at least some of it.

It was another misty moisty autumnal morning, made worse by the fact that we started out an hour earlier than last week and the unnaturally early start was taking its toll.  Bryan found us one of his cunning places to park, half way up the hill near Underscar, and proudly boasted about how he had saved us 700 feet.


View from car park- click for view on return


Shepherd's memorial - click for different view

We set off up the Skiddaw "Tourist's" route, past the memorial to the Shepherds, along the side of Whit Beck.  It was the coldest start we have had for a long time but we soon warmed up.  Lonscale Fell was our first target and somehow we missed the path.  However, quickly realising that we should not be branching round to the left with the tourist route, we set off directly up the hill, another Hardaker special but he wants me to report how his navigation was spot on and that, despite the fact we were now in thick mist, we hit the fence exactly where he predicted.  We followed the fence east and then its original line after it turned left and this took us directly to the summit cairn.

Retracing our steps, accidentally or deliberately I am not sure, we aimed off to the right . This proved to be failsafe as we came back to the fence and were able to follow this down and along towards Skiddaw Little Man.  En route, Tony had a lesson in navigation in mist using a spare man in front as his marker.

We crossed the tourist motorway and before long, on reaching its cairn, we were congratulating ourselves on the speed of our ascent of Skiddaw Little Man and predicting lunch on top of Skiddaw before noon.

Lonscale Fell summit


The path, which should have fallen away, started to climb again and before long, on reaching its cairn, we were congratulating ourselves on the speed of our ascent of Skiddaw Little Man and predicting lunch on top of Skiddaw shortly after noon.

We soon picked up the tourist motorway and found ourselves behind two men.  Stan and I had decided that there would be no silly chasing people up hills today and I was proud of the fact that I was maturely resisting the temptation.  Then I remembered how Stan had said how annoying people found it to have someone on their heels, so I thought that might be fun.  So I advanced to within a yard or so and the next thing I knew I was a hundred yards in front and the old urge had reasserted itself.  Which explains why I came to arrive at the summit a few minutes before the rest of our party.  In thick mist and in other places that would have been a really stupid move but given the existence of the motorway plus the fact that the higher one got, the thinner became the clouds, it was not too silly.





Arriving at the top was magical.  Timing was perfect- the clouds were just starting to dissipate and the views were spectacular but ever changing.  In particular, for a brief period we had a perfect view of Blencathra and this time it was perfectly straightforward to tell which of its peaks was the actual summit!


Skiddaw Summit


First glimpse of Derwentwater

We took lunch in the summit shelter.  Not quite before noon but before Tony had time to complain.  The path chosen to descend to Carl Side was not the slanting one that we had found such hard work going up two years ago but, to quote Bryan, "directissimo".  A very loose surface and quite steep; I found it tricky going despite the emerging glimpses of Derwentwater.

View back to Skiddaw and Little Man from Carl Side

Carlside Tarn hardly merits the description, more of a puddle really and Carl Side was swiftly ascended.  The descent however was another matter.  As we needed to take in Dodd, we had to find a way down to the right of the main path and with hindsight we branched off too early.  Hence we pioneered a new route "directissimo" through the heather.  Again hard going but for very different reasons.  The feet had to be lifted high to clear the heather and you never knew what was going to happen when you put them down.  Hole?  Normal Ground?  Hidden Rock?  It was a relief to find the proper path at last even if we were the best part down by then.

Dodd is a strange little hill.  It used to be heavily forested but has now been mainly cleared, leaving a very even path to its summit.  However before tackling it we found a bench to the memory of Ruth Day (1948 - 2002) and as it offered superb views over Derwentwater and surrounding fells, we thought it would be disrespectful not to take advantage of it for a LOTSW break (and second lunch). Dodd offered similar views plus Bassenthwaite.


View from Ruth Day's seat

We came down Dodd the way we went up and then followed a wall, traversing the hill until we came to the Slades Beck footpath.To be fair to Bryan, at this point he gave us two options.  One was to go down the footpath to the road and have a simple stroll back to the car, the other was to contour round the hills and scramble across the various becks en route, which might take a couple of hours.  Legs very tired at this stage, we opted for the road.

Stan and Bryan galloped off down the Slades Beck path at a frightening speed.  Tony and I gave up trying to keep up with them, it was very steep and hard on the legs.  Bless them though, they eventually waited for us to catch up.  By now the path had turned from stone to grass, still quite steep but as they set off down the grass I realised that this was a surface on which I could keep up.  And then, not just keep up, but overtake them.  "Look out lads, I'm coming through," I shouted as I barged between them, accelerating all the time.  All the time, that is, until my left foot lost grip and I ignominiously tumbled to the ground.  However, undeterred, I managed to execute a perfect recovery and in one continuous movement, rolled back onto my feet and carried on, still in front!  I am getting worried.  What is my problem? Why do I do this? After all, I am 60 next year!! Fortunately the Red Cross Green Goddess waiting at the bottom was not needed.

We reached the road and it was very pleasant.  Lovely houses, lovely views, lovely little village hall, war memorial and church.  All very lovely, until the last half mile.  And then we realised that the 700 feet that Bryan had kindly saved us at the start of the walk was nothing more than a debt that had to be repaid at the end.  It was a killer way to finish a very strenuous walk and quite the most height gained (and lost) that we have yet done.


Don, 18th October 2006


9.8 miles

Height climbed:
4,183 feet


Lonscale Fell, Skiddaw Little Man, Skiddaw, Carl Side, Dodd 

Wildlife count:  
Nothing exceptional other than a long dead mouse.

Click on
map to download a (large) pdf file of the route.



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Slipper Strolls:



  • BB0631  Coppermines
  • BB0630  Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
  • BB0629  Stone Arthur and a Mystery Plume
  • BB0628  Knocking off Wainwrights.  Oh! Plus Skiddaw!
  • BB0627  Blencathra and the Mungrisdale Round
  • BB0626  The Deepdale Round
  • BB0625  Les Garçons de la Botte
  • BB0624  The Crookdale Horseshoe and then some
  • BB0623  Selside Pike revisited
  • BB0622  Round the Dunny!
  • BB0621  The Malham Experience
  • BB0620  Newlands Horseshoe
  • BB0619  Old Man Succumbs!
  • BB0618  Kentmere Horseshoe
  • BB0617 QH2QH High Street (the length thereof)
  • BB0616 Thornthwaite Beacon
  • BB0615  Fairfield Horseshoe
  • BB0614  High Street Racecourse
  • BB0613 The Coledale Round
  • BB0612  Well, Well, Well, Wansfell and Troutbeck Tongue      
  • BB0611  Carlin Gill
  • BB0610  Whitbarrow, Yewbarrow and a history lesson
  • BB0609  Clough Head and Great Dodd
  • BB0608  The Corpse Road and beyond
  • BB0607  Grim Fell!
  • BB0606  A Bit on the Side.....
  • BB0605  Angle Tarn with Surprises! 
  • BB0604  Hart Cragg via Dovedale
  • BB0603  Islands in the Sky with Brocken Spectres
    (or High Street via Gardiner's Grind)
  • BB0602  Holme Fell, Black Fell and Electric  Eyes
  • BB0601  Ingleborough
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