A Skiddaw circuit via The Ullock Pike Ridge

2nd January 2012

First of all let me take this opportunity to wish everyone new & old who follow Sharkey’s Dream a Happy & Safe New Year with many memorable days to come on the fells for 2012.

2011 Ended not quite the way I thought it would, the weather Lakeland had experienced kind of  wiped my last walk of 2011 from under my feet, never in a million years would I have imagined The Ill Bell ridge – although a magnificent walk that it was, would of been my last walk in the district for 2011. I wont pretend that the days looking at the weather forecast on a hourly basis in between Christmas & New Year was a pleasant time, it wasn’t, it was mental torture, the three consecutive times that week that I rose at 6:00am & did a last minute weather check online, only to be confronted by more bad news, off to sleep I went… or tried that is, frustration kept the mind active.

On another occasion, I woke as you may have read in my previous post only to be greeted by a puncture & that put a sudden stop to that days proceedings… this as you can guess, only added to my frustrations.

Twenty two days is the longest time in the last three years that I have spent away from Lakeland, those lucky enough to live in its presence kept to the lower slopes & valleys while the storm roared overhead. Me, I watched helplessly from over 60 miles away, so it goes without saying, today despite the lack of exercise & the added spare tyre of Christmas & New year, I am more than ready to go.

So back to the walk…

This route, or similar to this route I had planned for in between Christmas & New Year, It was kind of my plan B route, the plan A, being Blencathra via the Hall’s Fell Ridge (you can see a northern ridge walk pattern forming here) but as the gusts were way to dangerous for an ascent on the Hall’s Fell Ridge, I only thought it right we would stick to my plan B walk. This being a route that would bag Tim five new Wainwrights & I would still get my ridge walk.

I tweaked the route slightly however, somewhere along the Ullock Pike Ridge, I asked Tim “ What do you reckon?” Lonscale Fell or Bakestall? I let Tim ponder along the ridge until we reached Carl Side, “I’m going to go for Lonscale Paul” I was rather pleased Tim came up with Lonscale Fell because now I could visit a long awaited & only seen from afar, Skiddaw House. This new route also meant a trek along the Cumbrian Way, of which, as part of the Northern Fells I have only graced small sections of.

The only other factor that domineered this walk as you will see throughout my walk report are two things: Wind & Camera’s (or lack of them)

This day, Skiddaw didn’t want no-one to climb her, and if they did, an everlasting memory would be imprinted on the walkers mind.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Northern Fells

- Skiddaw :

This, then, is Skiddaw, a giant in stature. But an affordable and friendly giant.

And a benevolent one. Keswick people have an inborn affection for Skiddaw, and it is well earned. The mountain makes a great contribution to the scenic beauty of this most attractively – situated town, shelters it from northerly gales, supplies it with pure water, feeds its sheep, and provides a recreation ground for its visitors. Throughout the centuries Skiddaw’s beacon has warned of the towns troubles and alarms – “the red glare on Skiddaw roused the burghers of Carlisle” – and today shares in its rejoicings.

Skiddaw’s critics have passed on, or will soon pass on. Their span of life is short. Skiddaw has stood there in supreme majesty, the sole witness to the creation of Lakeland, for millions of years and will be there to the end of time, continuing to give service and pleasure to insignificant and unimportant mortals.

Let us at least be grateful.


Ascent: 4,290 Feet, 1,307 Meters.
Wainwrights: 6, Ullock Pike, Long Side, Carl Side, Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man & Lonscale Fell
Weather: Over Cast & Snow Flurries, Hail & Sleet Showers. High Winds Of 50mph – With Gust of 60mph plus On Summits.  Highs Of 4° Lows Of 3°
Parking: Roadside Parking, High Side, Bassenthwaite. (foc)
Area: Northern
Miles: 12.4
Walking With: Tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken:  
Route: High Side – Watches – Ullock Pike – Long side Edge – Long Side – Carl Side – Skiddaw – Skiddaw Little Man – Lonscale Fell – Skiddaw House – Dash Falls – Bakestall & Cock Up Lower Flanks – Barkbeth – High Side

Map and Photo Gallery


We arrived at High Side parking spaces at around 08:25am and although the forecast was set for a clear day, we sat out a heavy hailstone shower in the car, all of Lakeland seemed to deem its way back into the night as we sat there with the engine running & headlamps on. We wasted no time getting our kit on as soon as the shower had passed, leaving Lakeland like a winter wonderland covered in tiny bobbles of hail all around us. Kitting up at the side of the car & I hear Tim say “I’m putting my waterproof trousers on now Paul, because you know me, If I don’t now, they’ll stay in the pack for the duration” Tim was right, get them on now because we all know Skiddaw has a slight reputation for being windy.

I lace up my boots in the hail scattered amongst the floor around the CP, doing this while lacing my boots I pick up the hail while in my warm hands together with my boot laces, the hail feels cold on my rapidly decreasing warm hands & within less than a minute, the little finger on my right hand feels like I’m at the top of Ben Nevis.

The wind sweeps up my back & lifts my mid layer’s, this chills my bones, by jove Paul, you have not left the car & you are already shivering. I tuck layer into layer & slide my Berghaus waterproofs over my Montane walking trousers, wind & waterproof yes…

But not Skidda proof.

Putting the waterproof over


Ullock Pike, Long Side & Carl Side.

It wasn’t long before I noticed my camera bag was damp, I say damp – it was clearly soaking. Now I’ve had an on going issue with my Camelbak Hydration pack for the last few weeks, in fact this incurable problem may have been with me longer, maybe as far back as to when I walked in the Howgills a few months ago, the problem occurs from the Bite Valve.

With the winter well under way, I’ as any other walker would pack there pack accordingly to suffice to winter conditions, this puts added pressure on the Hydration Bladder & causes small spillages leaking from the Bite Valve, this was my theory anyway. So with all this in mind, off I trundle to my local Gooutdoors & I purchase a Bite Valve Cover to hopefully stop the leak.

Done, job sorted.

No, clearly from what you are about to read next this is far from over. I now know that my life time guarantee Camelbak Hydration pack is faulty, well not the bladder, the Bite Valve, so as it goes purely by accident my Bite Valve was lucklessly positioned directly over my camera bag while on the journey up – this causing around half a litre of Robinsons to drip & soak my camera for the best part of two hours.

I take out my Lumix FZ38 & quickly realise that the screen has inside condensation, this is not good for the camera as we all know.

Okayyy a slight panic ensues & while I should be taking in & adjusting to the first half mile of steep path, I’m worried I may have lost another piece of expensive kit. Tim offers me (and I cannot thank him enough for this) his own camera, although not as powerful as the FZ38 I am this day in Tim’s debt. So as you read through the report you may gather that the pictures are a little obscured & this is being to one element, freezing temperatures & wind strong enough to knock a man of his feet.

Besides my Panasonic FZ38, Skiddaw & her elements took care of three more cameras. A compact hand held Casio camera, a Samsung Galaxy SII smart phone & finally a Nokia 5230 mobile phone.

The next few pictures are taken with Tim’s camera.


Looking back down the ridge towards Watches & Binsey from just beneath Ullock Pike summit.


Ullock Pike & Long Side.


Long Side, Carl Side Col & Skiddaw Little Man taken from Ullock Pike’s summit cairn.

It was while along the ridge did we know just what we was letting ourselves in for, a pre-warning as to what to expect, The breeze turned to a bitter gale & as copeable here as it may seem we knew to enjoy this ridge walk because within the next half an hour we would be walking in what can only be described as a wind tunnel at full power.


Carl Side Col from Long Side summit cairn. Here a clearer view of our route up to Skiddaw’s summit depicted as the white outline in the snow off to the left.


Tim took this picture just as we left Long Side’s summit, I crouch down & take numerous shots of spin drift right in front of me whirling round like a tornado, sadly Tim’s mobile camera could not pick out the detail & my luck was much the same.


Briefly the sun is obscured by dark cloud as we reach the summit of Carl Side.


Skiddaw from Carl Side Col.

With the sun on now on our backs we take a small break at the cairn. While Tim snacks I pick up a walker & his dog making his way down the path with a slight jog on, within ten minutes he is approaching the cairn, we are saddled up & ready to go, we swap “good mornings” & his next words are “its fierce up there lads” as you reach the cairn situated about 3/4 way up, there – is when it will hit you, the wind is so ferocious I had to make the summit in almost a crouch like position with my head fully down, I didn’t spend long there I can tell you.


Skiddaw Little Man from a frozen Carl Side Tarn.


The Ullock Pike Ridge incorporating Long Side & Ullock Pike.

We mentally prepare for the onslaught ahead, I keep a fix on the cairn the walker we had just chatted to as it appears in & out of view. For the moment the wind is on our side as it almost blows us up this steep path like a helping hand, we enjoy this brief respite for as long as we can for the shoulder of the summit is almost upon us.


Looking back down the steep path towards Carl Side & Long Side, we are just minutes away from some of the worst gusts I have ever encountered on any Lakeland summit.


Ahead, Skiddaw’s north summit cairn & Trig Point.

As we headed across North Top its pretty difficult to put into words just how strong the wind was here, we estimated winds of around 50mph plus, with added gust of 60/70mph plus. We weaved our way along the stony top – sometimes being as much as 15/20 feet apart, sometimes knocking shoulders so hard we almost knocked each other over.

I remember vividly the first moment as we gained the top from the steep path, when I found myself a good 7/10 sideward steps towards the right of the path above, I didn’t just find myself close to the edge, but what scared me most was I could have done nothing about it.

The wind just took me, and that shook me up a little.


Skiddaw’s summit Trig Point.

And the last picture from Tim’s camera, sadly the biting cold & furious winds got to the batteries & killed them.

After this picture was taken we both make for a small shelter south of the summit Trig Point, with not much cover in the way of height, the shelter gave us a three minute respite from the winds, it was here I take out my neck gaiter & wear it over my hat, this gives me great comfort as I feel my ears & face tingle in warmth as opposed to my hellish surroundings.

We are joined shortly after by another walker, in a typical English manner we note “bit breezy today chaps” In the short time we spend in the shelter I am quite & at one with the mountain, We are soon joined by another walker who appears to have arrived from nowhere, but there is nowhere for him to sit, me & Tim pack up, but before we left the comfort of the shelter, I note that the new arrival is not wearing any gloves, I note this because his hands are red raw & the contents of his nose un-be known to him are splattered across his face, he also has a small terrier with him, of whom I deeply feel sorry for, its ears taking full brunt of 60mph gust I fear that dog would rather be at the side of a roaring fire than the top of Skiddaw.

This is not my last encounter with the man & his terrier.


Skiddaw Little Man as we leave the summit of Skiddaw.

Shortly before this picture was taken I take off my pack & chance it to carry my Samsung Galaxy SII smart phone in my jacket pocket, despite the winds & severe chill effect my pocket is damp & doing its job of absorbing the sweat away from my body, I decide that if I am to carry my Mobile I will have to air the pocket out, I do this by simply un-zipping the pocket fully & within minutes I deem it safe enough to carry my smart phone, & hopefully use its camera to at least get some summit shots before its battery also dies from the elements.

It is here we are over taken by the walker, Tim is with me at this point but soon leaves me as I faff around with my picture taking, the walker picks up a lead & Tim follows to within a 40 metre distance. Hang on, where’s the bloody terrier? I look back up towards the crown of the summit & I spot the terrier, by now looking terribly confused, disorientated & lost, where’s my owner? I can see it in his face.

I have two choices here, I can run down to the owner who by now is getting littler & littler down the path, or I can run back up towards the south cairn where the dog was & hopefully get him to follow me down, but as I approach & pat my thigh with “come here boy, come on mate” he runs even further away back towards the summit, I look at now, an even smaller Tim in the distance & an even smaller dog owner, at this point none of them know I have back tracked to try & get the dog.

I give it one almighty HEY!!!! over the winds, no one is going to hear me, HEYYYY!!!! Tim turns round & shouts at the owner by now nearing 250 meters away, I point furiously at his dog, YOUR FLAMIN DOG IS HERE!!! The hapless walker back tracks & the dog sees its owner & like the wind, howls it right out of there.

I get a wave of thanks (rolls eyes) & I catch up with Tim who by now is gunning it for Little Man.


Tim on an ascent on Skiddaw Little Man.

A low point for me at this point, the thought of a turn around enters my head after we make Little Man, but I keep my low ebb to myself & the feeling slowly disperses.


Looking back on ground covered, here we have Skiddaw, Carl Side, Long Side & the Ullock Pike ridge.


Sunburst over Derwent Water & Keswick from Skiddaw Little Man.


The same view from Skiddaw Lesser Man found a few yards down from Little Man.


Lonscale Fell & Blencathra from our descent from Skiddaw Lesser Man.

Spirits are high as the winds decrease in such a manner that we can at least communicate with one another, the sun gives a momentarily warm glow on some very other wise frozen, wind swept fell walkers.


Looking back on Skiddaw Lesser & Skiddaw Little Man from this wooden gate post here marking an straight ahead route for Skiddaw’s summit or make a left & take in the Little Men!


Lonscale Fell bound.

The ground underfoot was semi frozen making for great walking conditions, the little trek to Loncsale Fell was a memorable part of the walk for me & brought great memories back for me when I was last here almost three years ago.


Skiddaw & Skiddaw Little & Lesser Man from Lonscale Fell summit cairn.

It was here my batteries died in my Samsung Gallaxy SII


Great Calva & our route down to The Cumbrian Way & Skiddaw House.

Tim’s little compact has come back to life bearing the scars of Skiddaws summit, it has two bars lit up in red meaning (I’m really on my last legs, someone put a plug in me)

Our route is shown on the right in the little fell named Burnt Horse, following the contours or flanking Burnt horse as we did would lead you onto the The Cumbrian Way & my long awaited visit to Skiddaw House.

No more pictures were taken in between here & Skiddaw House, if not only to save the batteries of the pioneering Casio compact camera.


Skiddaw House, circa 1829

I am happy now, we eat lunch as I circumnavigate its surroundings & grounds, I don’t know why, but I have a closeness to this old Sheppard’s dwelling than I care to let myself believe.

We finish off lunch at a wall surrounding the house, Tim noting “what would you do if you saw an old woman dressed in nineteenth century clothing standing at the window”

Don’t even go there mate.

Although this is my last picture we still have just over a four mile trek back to High Side, this is done along the Cumbrian Way in solitude or in chat, we pass other fell walkers heading back towards Skiddaw House as we start to flank Great Calva to our right & Bakestall to our left. I point out Dead Crags on Bakestall’s flanks & the mining adits from the lead mines many years ago. We pass Dash Falls, Dash Farm & the quartz ridden crag of Brockle Crags on Great Cock Ups, Flanks. Finally we head west & pick up a slight trail that will lead us above the farms of Barkbethdale & drudge (literally) through some of the heaviest mud I have seen to date, tired legs make speech scarce. With numerous dipping’s in countless swollen becks to swish the boots out a little our journey ends back at High Side CP, But Lakeland hasn’t finished with us just yet, as we pace towards the car the heavens opened with another heavy hailstone shower, as if to say “you started with a hail shower & you will end your day with a heavy hail shower” Talk of about good timing.

Fell walking at its best comes from days like today.


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