This is Skiddaw

16th March 2013

Missing out on the fells as I did last weekend can have some very adverse affects on me, gone are the detailed routes as by now, all I want to do is hit the fells with all boots blazing.

There is no better Lakeland fell to kick me back into reality than Skiddaw & not just Skiddaw, Skiddaw via the tourist route, or more commonly known as the hard way.

The weather again was playing tricks with my plans the Friday evening, so much so that my free Saturday was looking more like an Xbox day or something similar to that nature. I sulked as I gazed at my laptop thinking its always my bloody Saturday off when the weather just changes at the very last minute.

I contemplated a Sunday walk but this would have coincided with a planned night out for a few pints with my Dad & brothers.

What to do, what to do?

My plan was to stay up a little later than usual & maybe catch a film together with a few beers, this would mean only leaving Wigan for Lakeland around 06:45am timingly arriving at Underscar two hours later, thus pushing my weather window a little closer than if I had set off sooner.

That extra hour in bed was worth it, although I don’t think getting here would of made that much of a difference to how this walk panned out.

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: 2,821 Feet 860 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Skiddaw Little Man – Skiddaw – Lonscale Fell – Latrigg
Weather: Highs Of 5°C Lows Of 3°C Felt Like -8°C On Tops, White Out Conditions From 400 Metres With Wintry Snow Showers, Light Winds Between 15-20mph Across Summits
Parking: Gale Road End, Latrigg (Large Free Car Park)
Area: Northern
Miles: 8.8
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 5 Hours 10 Minutes
Route: Gale Road End – Hawell Monument – Skiddaw Lesser Man – Skiddaw – Jenkin Hill – Lonscale Fell – Lonscale Fell South Ridge – Above Lonscale – Whit Beck – Hawell Monument – Latrigg – Gale Road End

Map and Photo Gallery



Gale Road End 08:46 3°C

I guess I can go so far to say that the previous nights forecast was correct in that no Lakeland summits would be seen until roughly around lunchtime, I think I may also be correct in saying that as I drove along the A66 & passed the likes of Penruddock & Greystoke the cloud was so low it literally clung to the rooftops.

I didn’t expect too much from my walk today & neither did my camera.

Beneath Lakelands oldest, & therefore most grandest northern high range, things were looking considerably bleak.

I kit up alone half way through what I would call ‘late morning’ & make my way towards the Hawell Monument psyching myself for the monumental task that is Skiddaw from Gale Road, or to me & you…The tourist route.


Passing The Hawell Monument.

Despite the recent snowfall at higher levels, down at ground level in actual fact, spring like, its not to last but nice while it does.

I press on.


The last of the zig-zags.

The steep approach path is accommodating yet brings a whole new level to steepness, I struggle with a happy medium between just how staggeringly muggy it is & how my head deals with its pressure cooker like affect…

Beanie in hand, sweat on brow I knuckle down & try not to think about it too much.


Hitting the snow line & losing the views.

With most of the steep ascent behind me I head into the gloom, little did I know it would be a good four hours later until I fix my eyes on any fixable objects from here on in.


At 560 Metres (1,840 Feet) visibility was closing down to 15/20 Metres


At 600 Metres (1,970 Feet) I had no more than a circumference of ten feet visibility.

Despite my lack of visibility oddly, & strangely enough I could still hear traffic travelling along the A66 over to my left which when travelling alone can be a slight comfort.

It’s only since writing this did I discover the power of human senses & how your mind copes with all matter of things, my mind here it seems switched from sight to sound without me even knowing it, I find that pretty incredible.

Out of the mist the first of two fences are crossed, this a welcome sight no matter how brief it was.

I stick with my path & follow what can only resemble ‘recent footprints’ in the fresh snow, I follow them oddly…print for print.

My destination is Skiddaw Lesser Man, I figured here that maybe with a bit of luck someone has already blazed a trail up, either, yesterday or before me this morning, I’m hoping to pick up on these tracks a little further on.


Skiddaw Lesser Man emerges out of the whiteout.

I’d like to say that it was a pleasant accent from the tourist path to Lesser Man but I cant, I lost the path as I traversed its slopes GPS fixed firmly in hand, ‘when is that stone cairn going to appear’ regurgitating over & over in my mind.

With the sound of traffic a distant memory it seemed I was not only losing sight but senses too, your mind goes into overdrive no matter how familiar you think you are with your territory.


Skiddaw Little Man summit cairn.

Making the short, yet sightless/pathless traverse over no more than 300 Metres to Skiddaw Little Man was one of the most adrenalin yet slightly scary ten minutes I’ve ever spent, photos here can not grasp the magnitude of a total whiteout, so it was while on this traverse between both summits did I switch my camera from photo to video.

Snowblind is a word I have never had to use before, I do believe I experienced this phenomenon if not only during passing seconds that turned to minutes, here as I try to describe in my video did I encounter the shock my senses seemed to be taking – making my brain connect with my feet seemed almost impossible, to make it sound easier; Eyes & Boots could not coordinate because my brain was telling my eyes the ground was there, yet my eyes could not see it


After crossing the depression do I find myself back at the fence & Iconic gatepost.

With the whiteout lifting ever so slightly I press on in good spirit towards the summit shoulder & Skiddaw’s south summit cairn.


Skiddaw’s north top summit Trig Point & Viewing platform.

I pan around the summit yet again with my camera making a video but unfortunately it does not turn out for reasons I don’t know.

It seems the guy I had been following has disappeared but left a nice ‘yellow stain’ right in between both the Trig Point & the Viewing Platform, very nice of him that was.

As I hold my camera down & finish what I thought was my summit video two people arrive through the cloud, it is a couple a little older than me red faced as I was through the exposure from the cross winds, we embark on the obvious as I bid them farewell as I start my descent via the tourist path towards Jenkin Hill (the last wire fence seen previous)

It is here I encounter more brave & not so brave soles heading for the summit, everyone stopped for conversation with a little camaraderie at times, everyone making sure that each one was okay.

Here’s the next video I took from around 762 Metres (2,500 Feet) with –8°C Wind-chill, here I talk about the people I meet & parts of the conversations that took place as I now flank Skiddaw Little Man now over on my right.


How Far?

A couple stop to ask me as I contemplate my way over to Lonscale Fell after just passing through the wooden gate, here the guy asks me how far it was to the summit, I tell them maybe a mile or just under, oh that’s good we’re fast walkers we’ll be there in twenty minutes.

Okay… keep to the path I say.

Jeans, running shoes, no gloves, no maps no idea of the terrain…

I give up at times, what was it that made him take his girlfriend up Skiddaw on a day like today? I Cant help but wonder if they are still together this morning.

It’s time to head over to Lonscale Fell but first…


A quick shot of Jenkin Hill summit cairn.

Luckily for me someone had blazed a path through the snow along this section, but I have to add he or she hadn’t found the less deeper snow as I had closer to the fence, so I chose not to follow in their boot prints.


Looking back across Jenkin Hill with much improved visibility.


Following the fence all the way to Lonscale Fell, currently lost under cloud.

Shortly after taking this photograph I pass a mother & daughter on the other side of the fence, we smile & pass on our good mornings even though midday had been & gone…


Lonscale Fell summit marker complete with snowman.


And found just a few yards away is Lonscale Fell main summit cairn.

It was time to head down via the south ridge, so here I head across the fell top & start my descent firstly over semi solid ground then as I descend the ground becomes more un stable, as I try to not slip my way over some very slippery snow/grass covered ground, the camera’s battery is flashing on one bar so I take no more shots until I emerge out of the low cloud.


Derwent over Latrigg.

This was my first sighting of fixable objects since setting off nearly four hours ago, & very welcome it was too.

I press on towards Whit Beck.


Looking over St Johns in-the-Vale, Clough Head & the Dodd’s from Whit Beck.


Promising views as I pass the Hawell Monument for the second time today.


Lunch time from my amazing platform.

Magical light occurring over Keswick, Derwent Water & the north western fells.

I tuck into my lunch not caring that my once soft white ham & cheese sandwiches now resemble something that’s been left in the freezer overnight, they go down because I am hungry as I can almost say, that I have worked myself up an appetite.

Latrigg is unsurprisingly busy as families picnic & dogs bark, I get that unfamiliar look as I pass with an ice-axe attached to my pack.

It is here my path crosses again with the woman & daughter I passed just before I gained Lonscale Fell summit, we share our tales & get on with our pack lunches, not before I take a photo of both mother & daughter with this amazing Derwent backdrop, we say our farewells as I finish off some very hard to swallow frozen bread.

I sit longer than I have to as a cool wind freezes the sweat on my back…thinking, Latrigg along with Skiddaw are truly the patrons of Keswick.


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