Skiddaw
At the start of the New Year let me give you the secret of happiness. Make music, dance, walk. I am not expert in the first two elements of this well-being trinity but I do know that the more people are able to get outdoors and walk the happier they are – especially if they have access to the countryside where the air is less polluted. Here in the north west of England we are very fortunate in that we are not too far away from outstanding landscapes and in particular the Lake District. So if you are in want of a resolution – here’s a walk that will give you one - to climb to an elevation of over 3000ft

Start. Small car park at GR NY280253 CA12 4PH (Nearest) This is a useful car park to know since it is almost 1000ft above sea level thus reducing the amount of climbing you have to do.
Distance: 8.5 miles 14k
Time: 5 - 6 hours
Grade: Strenuous. Map, compass and/or GPS skills essential in cloudy/misty conditions
Map: OS Outdoor Leisure OL4 The English Lakes North western area

 

 Map by kind permission of Johnston Press

Directions 

1. Crossing a stile at the end of the car park and turn left to follow a fence line over a brow.

 

At the junction of paths turn left to commence the ascent proper of the mighty hill. You may be briefly distracted by the monument erected as a memorial to three shepherds who tended their flocks on these slopes.

 

From this point there follows a long pull up to brow of Jenkin Hill. There is nothing complicated about the climb indeed this is known as "the Tourist Path" but it will seem interminable offering no view ahead but the gradient. After yards of toil the way levels out to a friendlier incline. The views ahead improve too. To the left the summit of Skiddaw Little Man will offer itself as an option. If you do decide to do this take the path to the left after a fence. From the summit of Little Man follow the ridge north before dipping down to regain the tourist path. Continuing from the fence

 

the tourist path continues with the ridge on the left. After the next fence

 

(a significant one as you will return to it before the descent to Skiddaw House) it climbs to the ridge and continues to the trig point. Be aware that once on top of the ridge it is over 500yds to the trig point when approaching from the south.

  

2. After the usual rituals on reaching high places - photographs, selfies, group hugs etc. return to the fence and then once over the stile turn left to follow it to a corner. Continue the descent on a broad grassy track to Sale How

 

a broad hill after a dip more or less east of the fence corner. Even before you cross it you will have seen Skiddaw House within its cocoon of trees - the only trees to be seen in the otherwise treeless landscape. Keep on the track until you reach the house.

 

3. The biggest part of the walk is now done. Between March and October you may be inclined to book yourself into Skiddaw House which must be one of the most isolated youth hostels in the country. Even if you didn't this is a fine place to have a break and enjoy the scenery. From the front of the hostel Great Calva and its shapely summit rises up to the left. Ahead the broad valley of the River Caldew takes the Cumbria Way eastwards towards Carlisle. Your way is to take the Cumbria Way south. Take the path leading down to a footbridge

 

bearing right from the front of the hostel. Keep on the path as it crosses a rise and then turns towards the Glenderaterra Valley .

 

After a gate pass walled enclosures on the left and keep ahead on the path after crossing the junction with a path coming up from the far side of the valley. Without a great deal of effort you will soon find yourself on a thrillingly elevated path as it takes you along the side of Lonscale Fell. Two miles after the gate - about an hour's walking the path crosses a rocky section and then swings right to exit the valley. Here the views are outstanding. After another gate

 

keep on the track passing below a waterfall

 

as you ford Whit Beck and soon reach the point where you started the ascent of Skiddaw.

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