15th May 2007

An unusual route up and an unusual route down Skiddaw


Walk Overview
Time 16.35 to 19.45
Duration 3 hr 10 min
Distance 5.75 mile
Ascent 2620 ft
Walking with Andrew Leaney
High Side - Bassenthwaite Common - Randel Crag - Skiddaw - Carlside Tarn - Southerndale - High Side
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Parking spaces, High Side, Bassenthwaite

The half dozen or so spaces near High Side offer a nice and handy option for access to the Ullock Pike ridge or the Bakestall area. Although there aren't many spaces this is somewhere I've always been able to get a space and it is free.


Route Map

Looking across to Cockup and a couple of the Back of Skiddaw fells as the cloud was clearing nicely for an evening walk up Skiddaw.

This was a new route up Skiddaw for both of us and one I'd never really thought about doing before. That was until we were on Ullock Pike last weekend and looking across to see if there was a path through the scree near the top. Prior to the walk we'd expected it to be on a par with the direct route up Kirk Fell, but the whole route turned out to be much easier than both of us had expected.

The initial section as far as Randal Crag actually had a decent path which made the going quite easy. And even though the scree section between Randal Crag and the summit had no path it wasn't too difficult at all. Admittedly it was very steep, but it was a more or less a case of walking through the grass for the steepest section, then when the grass eventually gave way to scree, the gradient eased off a little anyway.

Binsey with the Solway Firth and Scotland behind.

It hasn't shown up too well in the photos, but the view across to Scotland was incredibly clear tonight. It was just a pity that the early indications of clearing sky's had lulled us into false excitement. Throughout the walk the cloud was in fact building up across the Solway and on the final part of the walk we could see it was actually raining on the Scottish hills.

Another view across towards the Solway Firth. This one taken from the scree section below Skiddaw summit.

And looking in the opposite direction.

A deserted Skiddaw summit.

We had uninterrupted, clear views in all directions while we were at the summit. What a fantastic way to end the day.

A close up picture of Skiddaw Little Man with the Helvellyn fells behind.

And looking a little further round to Lonscale Fell (left). The craggy fell running across from the right is Clough Head with Great Dodd behind.

Newlands Valley, Cat Bells, Maiden Moor, High Spy and Dale Head seen from the path down to Carlside Tarn.

And a wider view taken a little further down.

Just before reaching Carlside Tarn the whole of Derwent Water comes into view. From this angle the lake actually looks as broad as it is long; which of course it isn't.

After leaving Carlside Tarn / col we headed straight into the lovely little valley of Southerndale. A steep pathless descent, but perfectly manageable with a little more care than normal.

Looking back to our route form Carlside Col. From the col we followed a line to the right of the gill, before crossing over and picking up a narrow path through the remainder of the valley.

I'd love to embellish the description here and say that we'd just descended this incredibly steep section of fellside where we were forced to hang on for dear life and at times use the fifth point of contact (our backsides). Using this photo as evidence I'd probably get away with it, although the reality was quite different. As I said in the previous picture, a little care is needed, but it was actually a very pleasant route.

And another picture looking back through the valley. This one was taken below the area marked on the map as Great Knott.

Barkbeth Hill, found next to the track we followed back to the cars. This is a lovely little hill which even has a seat on the top, luring those in need of a bit of peace and quiet to sit awhile.

And looking in the opposite direction towards the Ullock Pike / Long Side ridge.

One last photo; taken just before the end of a walk which offers an excellent alternative to the more frequently used routes to one of the Lake District's most visited mountains.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks