The Back O’ Skidda

26th Maych 2011

I was back in unfamiliar territory in the form of The Uldale Fells more commonly known as ‘The Back O’ Skidda’.

These fells are the most northerly stretched fells of the whole Lake District & for that reason they seem to be left to themselves, many a fell walker like me completing his or her  Wainwrights or maybe someone who just wants to escape the crowds are more at home on these fells. Good paths are few & far between but once upon them, enjoy them. Once the comfort of the Cumbrian way has been left behind, for these fells are for one who likes to blaze ones own trail.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Northern Fells

Lakeland is severed by a great geographical fault : a deep trough running north and south across the district.  The lakes of Windermere, Rydal Water, Grasmere and Thirlmere lie in this trough and the main road north of Ambleside takes advantage of the simple passage it affords, Dunmail Raise at 782’ being the highest point . The rift continues through the vale of St Johns and Glenderaterra valley to Skiddaw Forest, where situated exactly at its head, there rises the graceful cone of Great Calva’s steeply bounded by high hills on both sides, notably the Helvellyn range. Great Calva’s view unique position provides it with a view along the direct line of the fault, so that, despite the mountains crowding into the scene, there is a remarkable vista, like looking along the sights of a gun through the heart of the district to the low Windermere fells in the extreme south.


Ascent: 4,153 Feet,  1,266 Meters
Wainwrights: 7, Bakestall, Great Calva, Knott, Great Sca Fell, Meal Fell, Brae Fell & Great Cockup.
Weather: Dry With High Broken Cloud, Gust On Tops, Turning Brighter PM Highs Of 1O° Lows Of 6
Parking: Peter House Farm, Bassenthwaite
Area: Northern
Miles: 11.1
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



Broad End & the crags to the left are where I am heading Dead Crags, This is a perfect way to start a morning on the fells-on the Cumbrian Way, there’s a cold nip in the air so I’m covering my ears with my new Lowe Alpine beanie.


Brockle Crag from the path.


Leaving the Cumbrian Way I now head for Bakestall, but first its an almighty steep ascent up Dead Crags, you can just make out the path to the left of Dead Beck.


Dash Falls from my ascent, also known as Whitewater Dash, these extensive falls are as good as, if not better than, any other in Lakeland.


A close up of Small Tarn to the left & Over Water to the right & my descent route of Little Cockup.


Bakestall summit cairn, with Skiddaw’s summit to the right of the cairn & to the left is Skiddaw Lower Man.

Bakestall: A very steep ascent together with tired legs so early into the walk, normal ascent is from the top of Dash Falls but it just wouldn’t have fitted in with my route plan today. At the summit I feel on terrible form, normally I’m into the ascents within the first half hour of the walk, today my legs, my feet just weren’t playing, coupled with a niggling problem on my left shin I seemed to have picked up during my last three walks, I’m thinking the worst ‘shin splints’ I have never had them & I don’t know anybody who has so I don’t know if is that , my boots or a knock I have picked up, whatever it is it’s causing me quite a bit of pain, here I gulp down two Co-codamol  to try & dull the pain.


Great views as I leave Bakestall & head down Birkett Edge, The Cumbrian Way cuts right through the valley but today I am heading for Great Calva to the right, the fell closer to the camera is Little Calva, Lower Left is the depression of Dash Falls.


Dead Crags as I cross Dash Beck.


The view upto Little Calva from the Cumbrian Way, I had just watched two walkers climb up here & one really seemed to be struggling with the steepness of the ascent, not wanting to put any pressure on the walker I took my pack  off  & peeled a couple of Satsuma’s, the climb up wasn’t as bad as first thought, however my niggling shin pain seemed to be here to stay. This fence follows the route all the way to Little & Great Calva & would almost come in handy if the cloud came down.


Zooming in on Skiddaw House.


Great Calva behind Little Calva summit cairn. Wainwright described Little Calva as a place of little interest , I tend to agree.


‘The Trough’ perfectly described by Wainwright, all the way to Dunmail Raise, an uninterrupted 12.5 Miles away, it was such a shame however I didn’t have the views because this view is more than one reason to come back here on a clearer day.


With a little zoom.


Great Calva summit cairn with my next fell ‘Knott’ in the background, the peak on the far right is Carrock Fell & the smaller peak to the left is High Pike, it was here I caught up with the two walkers I saw struggling up the steep path earlier, It was what looked like a grandmother & grand daughter & going off her red Jacket I clocked it was the daughter who was struggling.

There’s no substitute for age & experience.


Descending Burn Tod as I head for the faint path summit bound of Knott.


Looking back on Great Calva distinctive triangular shape from the ascent of Knott.


Mungrisdale ‘the back of Blencathra’ & the Bannerdale skyline.


Another view of the Trough. Note the trampled circular shaped long grass in the foreground, made me wonder?


Knott summit cairn with views towards Bannerdale in the background.


High Pike & Carrock Fell from the knott summit, this was my favourite part of the walk, just look at the ground underfoot, it was like this all the way to Brae Fell, another reason why I found this ground so well liked was it lay pressure of my left shin. a few hours had past so here again I pop two more Co-codamol’s in.


A close up of Lingy Hut on the Caldwell Fells from Knott summit.


Great Sca Fell bound, the path is fantastic underfoot, all the hard work was more or less out of the way, what a reward for a mornings hard work.


Showing off my new Lowe Alpine Crag Attack 30 Ltr on Great Sca Fell summit, it was time for a bite to eat so out came my sandwiches my daughter Paige had ever so kindly made for me the night before.

Those sandwiches cost me mega bucks


The shelter & cairn found on Little Sca Fell a little further on, it was here I had to make a decision, cave into the pain of my shin & head down to Meal Fell or head out just under a mile to Brae Fell?


Brae Fell bound, in all essence it would of been silly of me not to include Brae Fell, it was only a matter of obtaining the summit then a quick double back on yourself to Little Sca Fell & then a descent down to Meal Fell.


Pioneers of Lakeland: I would of been home half an hour sooner If I hadn’t stopped to chat to these two elderly gents, the one on the right being the more chatty one, he had got to be knocking on 80 yrs of age, the one on the left, not far behind him.

We chatted about the fells or I should say I listened as the gent in the red jacket still showed his enthusiasm as I do now, I couldn’t get a word in edge ways but then that didn’t matter.

The gent on the left in the green jacket listened to his pal go on & on about the fells then abruptly disturbed his frontier friend, he asked me, have you done Green Crags Eskdale? I replied no I haven’t not yet, he then went onto say ‘Green Crags was the first fell I retuned to upon completing my Wainwrights many years ago’ that day was very emotional for me.

Again the eldest gent interrupted his friend yet again, he asked me are you doing Longlands Fell? I answered no, maybe a fell too far today I replied, Binsey he asked? er no not yet, Well he said, there you have it, those two are only to be done together.

Meeting these two pioneering fell walkers yet slightly comical friends made my day. Cheers chaps.


My final two summits of the day, Meal Fell & Great Cockup, instead of heading back up to Great Sca Fell & pick up the main path, I flanked the pair ( Little & Great Sca Fell) & rejoined up the path at the col far left, This cost my now ever aching left shin dearly.


The pain in my shin from the descent caused me nearly to ‘throw a wobbler’ I wanted to throw that bloody boot as far as I could, as I crossed Frozenfell Gill it was time to sort the now aging problem, besides throwing the boot down the valley or at best a compression bandage to the front of my shin this was the best answer to my problem.

As you can see I have laced up the boot to take any pressure away off the front of my shin (where most of the pain was coming from) The best way I can describe the pain is like I had tightened my laces to tight. I had already not been using the lower loop eyelets but this also seemed not to ease the pain for the duration of the walk.

This newly  routed lace however worked a complete treat.

Now is the difficult question, what came first the chicken or the egg?

The boot tongue causing me grief thus the pain after, or under lying shin problem?,I still cant decide but this way of re-lacing my boot caused the problem & pain to instantly disappear.


Back on track & back on form:

Meal Fell summit & shelter with a darkened Skiddaw in the distance.


Frozen Fell from Meal Fell summit.



After a small descent off Meal Fell I find myself in the small valley of Trusmadoor, a high level pass linking Longlands with Bassenthwaite, my route is the high crags ahead & onto my final fell of the day Great Cockup.


Beautiful rays of sunshine over Great Cockup summit with Bakestall & Skiddaw’s massif forming the background.


Lambing season in Orthwaite.


I’m figuring these little fellows were hours old, this little un struggled to walk, you have a lie down


It was just a matter of .08 miles back to the car, a challenging day now over & right now I don’t want the day to end. The Back O’ Skidda Fells are just that, You are constantly reminded whether through sight or through lens the bulk of Lakelands oldest Mountain is ‘just looking over your shoulder’

Another great day spent on Lakelands Finest.


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