Skiddaw Route

Recommended Maps Ordnance Survey Maps:

Outdoor Leisure Map 4 - North Western Area (1:25,000)

Land Ranger Map 89 - West Cumbria (1:50,000)

Land Ranger Map 90 - Penrith and Keswick (1:50,000)

Total Distance:

19.1 kilometres (11.9 miles)

Duration:

7 to 8 Hours

Maximum Height Achieved :

931 metres (3055 feet)

Total Ascent :

875 metres (2871 feet)

Background

Skiddaw is the fourth highest peak in the Lake District. This route combines a remarkably easy and straightforward route of ascent with an interesting return. Any visitor to Keswick will no doubt have been impressed by the sheer bulk of Skiddaw with its smooth lines.

Starting Point - Gale Road Car Park

The walk starts at the Latrigg car park at the end of the Gale Road. Gale Road is a steep and narrow road that comes up to the foot of Skiddaw from Ormathwaite, a small village on the opposite side of the main A66 trunk road that passes Keswick. Ormathwaite is easily found by going straight ahead at the roundabout to the west of Keswick where the A591 main road crosses the main A66 trunk road. Go straight ahead at the roundabout from Keswick and then take an almost immediate right down a country lane towards Ormathwaite. Just after Ormathwaite and before Applethwaite you take a right up Gale Road and follow its steep incline to the very end where you will find the Latrigg car park.

Section 1 - Gale Road Car Park to Lonscale Fell

Distance: 1.9 miles (3.0km)

Height Gain: 1362 ft (415m)

The walk starts at the Latrigg car park at the end of the Gale Road. Latrigg is the small hill to the south of the car park. Despite its small height of only 368m above sea level it is actually on the Wainwright list and if you ever go to the top and take a look at the view down Derwentwater into the jaws of Borrowdale you'll more than understand why Mr Alfred Wainwright included it in his magical illustrations. Recently a fantastic project has taken place to develop a wheelchair access path from the car park over to the summit of Latrigg. I think that despite his dislike of the mass tourism of the Lakes, Alfred Wainwright would have loved the idea that so many people who could never have imagined seeing that perfect view could now do so on this smaller hill.

Latrigg is the small hill to the south of the car park. Despite its small height of only 368m above sea level it is actually on the Wainwright list and if you ever go to the top and take a look at the view down Derwentwater into the jaws of Borrowdale you'll more than understand why Mr Alfred Wainwright included it in his magical illustrations. Recently a fantastic project has taken place to develop a wheelchair access path from the car park over to the summit of Latrigg. I think that despite his dislike of the mass tourism of the Lakes, Alfred Wainwright would have loved the idea that so many people who could never have imagined seeing that perfect view could now do so on this smaller hill.

From the car park the way is signposted very clearly. There is a gate at the far end of the car park that is signposted to Jenkins Hill. The path heads left following the route of the Cumbria Way for a few hundred metres. The Cumbria Way comes up here from Keswick so anyone wanting to expand the walk and start it at Keswick could do so by starting in Keswick and simply following the Cumbria Way to this point. After a few hundred metres the paths split and the Cumbria Way carrys on ahead round the contours of the massif while the Skiddaw path you need to take heads left towards a small stone cross memorial.

The Howell Memorial was built in recognition of three shepherds of the Howell family who worked on Lonscale Fell, there are a few nice sentences to them on the memorial itself worth reading. "Great Shepherd of Thy heavenly flock. These men have left our hill, their feet were on the living rock. Oh guide and bless them still." From the memorial a path now starts to climb quite steeply in a rather erratic zig zag fashion up Jenkin Hill. This is not our route. We now branch right and descend into Whit Beck and then follow the bridleway below Lonscale Fell. The path continues around the fell heading Eastwards before turning sharp left at a gate to ascend Lonscale Fell following a fence. Once the summit is attained it is worth walking easterly to the edge of Lonscale Crags for a view of Blencathra.

Section 2 - Lonscale Fell to Little Man

Distance: 1.2 miles (1.9km)

Height Gain: 492ft (150m)

From the summit cairn of Lonscale Fell descend westwards crossing the top of Whit Beck before rising up onto Jenkin Hill.

Once on top of Jenkin Hill itself the track levels out and comes to a wooden gate where the path once again splits. The track signposted to 'Skiddaw Summit' heads off through the gate and to the right where it skirts the eastern side of Little Man. For those who do not wish to bag Little Man then you can follow that particular through the gate and round the mountain and meet up with the same path again on the other side on the col between Little Man and Skiddaw. However most will want to walk to the top of Little Man as it is a Wainwright and a worthy one with rewarding views. So don't go through the gate and instead carry straight on in a north westerly direction on a path not marked on some maps for whatever reason despite being obvious and heading to the top of a popular hill. The path will head uphill straight onto the top of what seems like the summit of Little Man but is in fact another slightly lower summit known as Lesser Man. The summit of Lesser Man has a stone cairn mixed with old metal fence posts. From Lesser Man continue north along the obvious path to the clearly slighty higher summit of Little Man and its stone cairn.

Section 3 - Little Man to Skiddaw

Distance: 1.0 miles (1.61km)

Height Gain: 217ft (66m)

From Little Man head north to north westerly off its summit and head down towards the obvious col between Skiddaw and Little Man where you will meet up with the track again you left earlier. When you descend Little Man if the weather is bad an the way ahead not clear then simply follow the fence to your right until it comes to a right angle, at the right angle turn right with the fence and you will get to the gate for the path you left earlier, from here simply head left now going uphill towards the ridge of Skiddaw. The track is ridiculously wide and obvious now as it heads first northwest then after meeting a few paths from the left heads directly north straight to the summit of Skiddaw. There are a few false summits and also one last small dip downhill before the actual summit with its trig point and stone cairn.

The views from Skiddaw's lofty summit stretch for miles. to the north you can see the skyline of Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland over the Solway Firth. Also to the north in close proximity is the area known as Back o'Skiddaw with its remote rolling hills somewhat different to the rest of the rough and craggy Lake District. To the east is Skiddaw's wonderful neighbour Blencathra and beyond the Lake District is the bleak and high Northern Pennines. Moving south east you'll see the huge bulk of the Helvellyn range then directly south the rest of the Lake District over the gorgeous Derwent Water and the Borrowdale Valley. To the west looking over probably Skiddaw's best ascent route the Long Side ridge you'll see the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man on a good day. The summit itself is a rocky place with a brilliant stone topograph topped cairn detailing all the sites and the usual OS trig point pillar plus a stone circle shelter for sheltering from the elements.

Skiddaw is the Lake District's oldest existing mountain. The area behind Skiddaw and in much of the far north and western area is made up mostly of Skiddaw Slate. Skiddaw Slate is unlike the rest of the mainly volcanic Lake District in that it is mostly sedimentary, created by mud and sediments from ages old ocean beds, the softer rock make up is of course a lot more likely to be shaped by the elements, giving the Back o'Skiddaw area its unique rolling hillsides. However in a few instances where the slate is bared by the forces of weather at high altitude it can take on a completely different aspect especially on the summits of Blencathra and Skiddaw and there many exposed ridges. The sedimentary slate beds created here are extremely thick and in areas can even affect a compass bearing so be warned.

Section 4 - Skiddaw to Bakestall

Distance: 1.1 miles (1.8km)

Height Gain: -846ft (-258m)

From Skiddaw's summit cairn follow the track and fence northwards descending gradually over a heather covered shallow ridge to Bakestall's summit.

Section 5 - Bakestall to Little Calva

Distance: 1.3 miles (2.12km)

Height Gain: -101ft (-31m)

(273m descent, 242m ascent)

The route off Bakestall heads generally in a Northeasterly direction toward Great Calva. Follow along a fence sat on the ridge of Birkett Edge down toward Black Nettle Hause to cross Dash Beck at the bottom of the gill where Whitewater Dash Waterfall can be admired. Cross the Cumbrian Way after the waterfall and continue up Dry Gill toward the summit of Little Calva.

Section 6 - Little Calva to Great Calva

Distance: 0.9 miles (1.5km)

Height Gain: 157ft (48m)

From the summit stones of Little Calva head eastwards over the flattest part of the fell for the short ascent to Great Calva and a true Wainwright.

Section 7 - Great Calva to Skiddaw House

Distance: 1.3 miles (2.1km)

Height Gain: -722ft (-220m)

The next stagepoint, Skiddaw House, can be clearly seen from the southern prominence of Great Calva. Descend off the fell in a south-southwesterly direction, picking up the recently crossed Cumbrian Way where it encounters the River Caldew. Follow the path for a few hundred yards to Skiddaw house and all that remains of Skiddaw Forest.

Section 8 - Skiddaw House to Gale Road Car Park

Distance: 3.2 miles (5.1km)

Height Gain: -558ft (-170m)

Continuing along the Cumbrian Way from Skiddaw House continue southeast skirting the lower slopes of Lonscale Fell known as Burnt Horse. Branching south continue along the Cumbrian Way passing under Lonscale Crag to the right and Mungrisdale Common to the left, along the Glenderaterra Valley. At the end of the Crags the path turns westwardly following the contours of Lonscale Fell toward Whit Beck where the trek began. Follow the path to return to Gale Road Car Park.