All quiet on the Skiddaw front

10th June 2012

Its been a frustrating week If you’ve been watching the weather as I have, it’s as though the whole country & indeed poor Wales has been set back into the dead of winter, the forecast is bleak for the week ahead.

Watching the news & the poor people in Aberystwyth sure puts things into perspective, & here’s me about to harp on about in accurate ever changing forecast, Okay- I’m going to say no more on the matter, but yes, I’ve been frustrated these last 24.

Today I have company in the name of Darren Winstanley & Gary Wynne. You may or may not remember Darren from a couple of months after we traversed Swirral Edge. Gary’s presence can be put down to the fact that he simply wants to find his walking feet again.

I had the task of finding a walk that would suit both Darren & Gary, couple this with the agonising weather reports up until the sixth hour was a little tricky, Bowfell screamed at me, so did the Climbers Traverse, I wanted to show Lakeland at her rawest, Bowfell did this fittingly…

But, naively, I should also think safety & the fact that it was over two years since Gary had set foot on a fell. So the weather put a lid on Bowfell & most certainly the Climbers Traverse. For reasons that will come apparent later in the month – I really need to stay away from the Eastern fells or put simply ‘the High Street’ range.

Striking, Exhilarating & Edgy was what I needed…

Skidda has this in abundance


Wainwright Guidebook

The Northern Fells

Neither The Edge nor Longside Edge can be compared with Striding Edge or Sharp Edge on Blencathra, for there is no rock to handle and nothing steep enough to carry a risk of accident; nevertheless they provide fine walking on a ridge narrow enough in places to give startling glimpses downwards and heathery enough to supply springy couches for better enjoyment of the delectable views.  This is a good route and should be noted as a line of approach to Skiddaw more interesting than others preferred by the crowds.


Ascent: 2,970 Feet, 905 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Ullock Pike, Long Side, Carl Side & Skiddaw
Weather: Over Cast & Muggy, Cloud Base At 800 Metres, Turning Brighter & Warmer PM, Highs Of 16°C, Lows Of 13°C
Parking: Road Side Parking, Ravenstone Hotel, Bassenthwaite
Area: Northern
Miles: 7
Walking With: Darren Winstanley & Gary Wynne
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken:  
Route: Ravenstone Hotel – Watches – Ling How – Ullock Pike – Long side Edge – Long Side – Carl Side – Skiddaw – Broad End – Barkbeth Gill – Watches – Ravenstone Hotel

Map and Photo Gallery



8:19 am 13°C Ravenstone Hotel, Bassenthwaite.

The ride up north was pretty un-eventful as we caught up like three blokes would, only disrupted by a pit stop at Westmorland services, we soon found ourselves north bound again & reached the quiet lanes of Millbeck turned 8am.

I was a little apprehensive given the fact that the limited spaces outside the hotel were few & far between, room for four cars to be exact, but my apprehensions were laid to rest as we were the first car there – I do over panic sometimes.

We kitted up or I should say me & Gary kitted up, Darren being so the travel guy that he is was ready the moment he left the car he had that pack on along with his seat belt me thinks!

We crossed a deserted A591 & headed for the bank of trees that line the road way, here we would pick up the track for the Ullock Ridge.

One thing I forgot as we hit the track, it’s steep straight from the car, the lads thanked me for this accordingly…


Bassenthwaite Lake from the path.

It’s warm & humid & before they knew it Darren & Gary were de-layering, back at the car, as we kitted up Darren noted I was wearing just my Mountain Equipment mid-layer, what you got under there Paul? I lift my mid-layer & slap my belly thus resulting in a wobble.

Nothing mate

At this point I feel slightly sorry for the guys, its warm its muggy & not twenty minutes into the walk they are feeling the heat already, even more guilt came from the fact I failed to tell them how steep the first mile was.


Bassenthwaite Lake & the north western fells.

Here looking back along the path as it straightens out a little as we reach the point were we turn right for the ridge route, the hard work is now done, & I must admit even I felt the pull.


Looking deep into Southerndale from Ling How.

As we rounded the path at Ling How did we then first get our views of Skiddaw & her blanketed summit, the cloud really was sporadic & within ten minutes we had fine views across the whole of the summit plateau, within another ten minutes, the views had disappeared again.


The whole climb is dominated by Bassenthwaite Lake & rolling green pastures.


Gary & Darren just under our first summit of Ullock Pike.


The cloud drops at its lowest during the morning obscuring Skiddaw’s summit altogether, low enough even to blanket Carl Side Col too.

Whilst at the summit we have a quick breather, Darren opts for a slice of Soreen & continues to go on about its values & all for the price of a quid, he’s right you know, Soreen and its properties is an excellent sandwich box filler.

I know this, obviously Darren Knows this yet I never carry any? Ill stick to my Satsuma’s me thinks.

The walk despite the lack of views was turning out to feel like, oddly enough, like the times we used to play together as kids, we did the adult things as you do – saying kids never leave the house these days & we blamed everyone & anyone.

Darren quips: Paul I used to knock for you at nine in the morning, we never went home until tea time & when we did, we looked like no sod owned us, playing in that stream that runs along the farmers fields near your house, we used to always dam the stream remember! then we’d go back out after tea, still looking like no sod owned us.

Bloody hell, I smile & reflect, them were the days mate…


Zooming in on St Bega’s Church from Ullock Pike summit.

This remarkable little chapel is within the grounds of Mirehouse & is reputed to date back to the thirteenth century. The church is steeped in local history,


Low & menacing cloud dominate the north western fells.


Skiddaw, Carl Side & Skiddaw Little Man from Long Side summit cairn.


Looking over the White Stones ridge towards a hazy Keswick & Derwent Water.


Taking in the views at Carl Side Col.


Little Man from Carl Side Tarn.


More hazy fells looking east from Carl Side Tarn.


Darren as we leave Carl Side Col for for Skiddaw’s summit.

This particular part of the walk was the reason I picked it, still a popular route with a little steep twist to gain the summit, it sure got the lungs heaving & the calf’s screaming.


The Ullock Ridge as we leave the grassy plains behind for a more stony ascent.


Darren took this photo looking back on Carl Side Col & the last push towards the summit plateau.


Again, the Ullock Ridge as we gained the summit plateau.

Time for a quick rest stop before we make the short walk over to the summit trig point.


Its all calm on the Skidda front.

Its quite remarkable I think to myself, that the last time I was here in January I was literally knocking shoulders with Tim, the wind was so fierce you had to bend over double to make it to the summit, even on other occasions whilst as the Skiddaw’s summit, have I to deal with wind so bad it would empty the contents of your pack & spread it across the Mountain top without you knowing it.

I’ve been on the summit over half a dozen times, this, is the most surprised I’ve ever been whilst being here, today the wind wouldn’t blow tissue paper from the palm of your hand…

We press on towards the summit cairns.


Not before looking back & taking this photo if Skiddaw Little Man (R) & Lonscale Fell (C) Blencathra is partially hidden beneath yet more lingering cloud.


Darren & Gary at the summit trig point.


The viewing plate on Skiddaw’s summit.

Sadly, the views were too obscured by the haze or hindered by the low cloud.


Skiddaw’s North Top.

Well, this next chapter of the walk albeit only a few miles, would be new territory to me as I’ve never left Skiddaw via its North Top & Broad End bound.


Broad End as we drop out of the cloud.

The gentleman in the photo seemed to appear from no-where which left us guessing that he had joined the path from the right side of the picture at the point where he stands, he is wearing no pack & shorts & we all second guess what he is doing here? Nevertheless he greets us with a good morning & yet we are still un-convinced this guy is ok, I spin round & find him halted a little further up the path maybe getting his breath or getting acquainted with his surroundings?

Gary, a little further on along walk suggest he’s a little worried about this guy & to be far from harsh I had my niggling doubts also, there really is nothing you can do if someone looks a little stressed & you ask if they are ok? thus resulting at times with I wish I hadn’t bothered asking now…

I guess if you was really in trouble or apprehensive of your surroundings you would ask for the slightest help, even if you disguise you needed it?


Skiddaw’s North Top from Broad End.

(at least the cloud has lifted)


Sadly, more murky shots of the northern fells as we prepare to find a place to eat lunch.


Ullock Pike from our lunch spot.

The ridge seen in the foreground forms Buzzard Knott & Randel Crag separated by the two valleys of Barkbethdale (foreground) & Southerndale just on the other side in-between the Ullock Pike ridge.

It is here we down packs & find four large white boulders over twenty feet apart in places, comically we eat & aren’t within ear shot for a conversation over lunch, with this, lunch is eaten as our arses go numb whilst sat on awkward positioned boulders.

I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Who’s got the best sandwiches? Gary shouts across what seems like the field we are dining within, me shouts Darren, chicken & Bacon, I’m on the usual Tuna & Gary’s on Ham & Mustard.

Darren wins you posh basta##! that was until we later learned that he’d paid 50p because they were going out of date from our local CO-OP.

Hope you get the sh#t’s now Daz, flaming cheater!

A laugh between friends.

Darren packing his ‘best sandwich’s trophy’ into his pack


Bassenthwaite Common.

Our route would take us down the steep flanks of Broad End & pick up the stone wall seen centre right in the photo, here we would cross Barkbeth Gill seen cutting through  Bassenthwaite Common, but that is a little while off, for now its a steep & slippery descent.



The descent was tiresome & failing on the knees, it did seem to go on for far too long, nevertheless we were soon treated to great views up the small valley of Barkbethdale.


Binsey from this pile of boulders Alfred Wainwright aptly named ‘Little Stone Henge’

As you can see the weather since we left Broad End has brightened as the midday sun started to give the final mile or so of the walk that real summer feel.


The double sheepfold found as we cross Barkbeth Gill.

Instead of going over the top of Ling How in the picture we decide to flank it taking the path you see on the right, it’s only a small diversion which only adds to the walk.


Ullock Pike & Longside from the tip of Southerndale.


Skiddaw & Broad End looking over Bassenthwaite Common, the stone wall is an art work in itself.


This time in the direction of Southerndale with all five summits depicted.


A close up of St John’s Church Bassenthwaite, circa 1878.


Late morning sun over Bassenthwaite Lake & Sale Fell.



The north western fells as we make our final descent.

The final mile is met by brilliant warm blue skies above our heads, not two hours previous we were witness to summits bewildered by low cloud, this is Lakeland & this is what she can do.

I feel safe in the knowledge that the two guys ahead of me have been treated to what a day on the fells can throw at you, as they itch their way back down track with sore feet from previous grassy inclines never far from the fact that besides the soreness of an evening this trip wont be forgotten too easily amid some sore feet & knee’s.

Foot Note#

At this precise moment in time, a good friend of mine is also sharing momentarily the delights of sore feet & aching limbs as he passes through Lakeland.

Father Shaun Church is currently wielding his way across Lakeland whilst on his first solo Coast to Coast trip. In crossing the country, Shaun has raised over £3,000 in charity money for the costly improvements to his own church ‘Our Lady of the Holy Souls’


Back to top