25th December 2007

Merry Christmas from a freezing cold Skiddaw


Walk Overview
Time 10.30 to 14.30
Duration 4 hr
Distance 7.5 mile
Ascent 2560 ft
Walking with Jennifer
Underscar Hotel - Gale Road - Jenkin Hill - Skiddaw - (and back)
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Parking spaces, bottom of Gale Road

You might be tempted to ask why I'd want to park at the bottom of Gale Road when there's a perfectly good car park at the top. Well, anyone who's tried to drive to the top after a few nights of hard frost will know exactly why.

Having been caught out in the past trying to drive up the icy road. Now I don't even try if conditions in the valley are frosty.


Route Map

Standing at the top of Gale Road and looking across to the Lord's Seat fells on the left of the picture and Dodd just right of centre.

It was almost like walking on two different days today. We set off in surprisingly warm sunshine and all the people we met along the lower section of the fell were taking clothes off rather than adding them, as you'd expect at this time of year. These conditions were short lived as it turned out. Once we'd ascended to somewhere around the 2500 ft mark it was more like you'd expect in winter; and more.

Great Mell Fell and Little Mell Fell in the distance with Clough Head on the right of the picture.
I'm confident that we would have seen some reasonable cloud inversions at the start of today's walk if it weren't for my absentmindedness. Most of the way from home we'd drove through thick fog, with that all important hint of sunshine from time to time. Then when we got out of the car to start the walk, it was one of those shock horror moments; I realised I'd left my camera at home. Jennifer did have hers, but couldn't remember how long the batteries had been in it. There was only one thing for it, and that was to drive back home or as it turned out, to call in at the garage in Cockermouth to buy some spare batteries.
I'll never moan about places being open on Christmas day again.

By the time we got back to the start of the walk half an hour had passed and the cloud which must have been filling the valleys was retreating fast. That'll teach me to pay attention instead of getting too excited about opening Christmas presents.

Sunshine at the Hawell monument and on the zig-zag tourist (as it's known) path up Skiddaw.

Sunshine at the Hawell monument and on the zig-zag tourist (as it's known) path up Skiddaw.

Looking down to the North Western fells.
It isn't too easy to see in this picture, but notice the cloud hanging over Derwent Water. Anyone on Cat Bells or Walla Crag would have had a real treat this morning.

Now it was time to start adding layers as the temperature plummeted.

I'm generally OK in cold conditions and it has to be quite extreme before it has much of an affect on me, in fact I regularly wish I could feel cold like everyone else instead of overheating all the time; which can be and is a real problem. Having said that, I have to tell you it was freezing up here today. By the time we got back to this point on our return journey, our clothes had a generous coating of ice and several people were in fact turning back because they simply didn't expect conditions to be this cold.

A good coating of frost on one of the shelters on route to Skiddaw summit.

For about a minute and a half the clouds parted to allow us a view of Bassenthwaite Lake and the surrounding countryside which were enjoying an afternoon of sunshine.

Santa's little helper standing at the summit of Skiddaw.

Back to normality now, out of the wind and ready for something to eat, BUT not too much, the Christmas dinner is still waiting at home.

Mungrisdale Common in sunshine with Carrock Fell and Bowscale Fell in the distance.


It wasn't quite what you'd call a white Christmas, but this picture was taken shortly after a snow shower passed across this area of the Lakes. It only lasted a couple of minutes and it didn't lay, but snow on Christmas day always seems worth a mention.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks