Five Skiddaw Fells starting with Latrigg

4th January 2015

I was meant to sit out this weekend & catch up on website stuff but was tempted otherwise by Tim to join him on a good o’l slog up Skiddaw if only so Tim could summit Bakestall on ‘the way back’ which would bring his Wainwright count to 206.

We had our route planned which would start around the back of Skiddaw on the Orthwaite Road before taking on the Ullock Pike ridge & continuing to summit, Carl Side, Skiddaw & Bakestall before returning back through the secluded valley of Barkbethdale, sounds lovely right? You wouldn’t be wrong if you answered yes but our intentions were averted once the words Latrigg coupled with sunrise was mentioned in the car somewhere around Carnforth, our original route was then put on the back burner then remapped  to include Latrigg, Lonscale Fell, Skiddaw & finally Bakestall followed by a fantastic return along the Cumbrian Way, all we needed to do was make it to the top of Gale Road, which was a little more tricky than first thought.

Wainwright Guidebook Five
The Northern Fells

-The Northern Fells:

From the summit-ridge of Skiddaw the main watershed eastwards switchbacks over Little Man and Jenkin Hill to Lonscale Fell, this being the familiar outline so conspicuously in view on the southern approaches to Keswick Lonscale Fell, a graceful and gentle curve against the sky, ends very abruptly in a sharp peak (which also features prominently in most views of the range) whence the ground falls away steeply to the deep narrow valley of Glenderaterra Beck.


Ascent: 4,100 Feet – 1,250 Meters
Wainwrights: Latrigg – Lonscale Fell – Skiddaw Little Man – Skiddaw – Bakestall
Weather: Sunny Spells Turning Overcast, Highs Of 3°C Lows Of 1°C Feels Like -10°C  Across Skiddaw Summit
Parking: Car Park, Top Of Gale Road, Latrigg
Area: Northern
Miles: 13
Walking With: Tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 6 Hours
Route: Gale Road – Latrigg – Lonscale Fell – Jenkin Hill – Skiddaw Lesser Man – Skiddaw Little Man – Skiddaw – Bakestall – Birkett Edge – Cumbria Way – Skiddaw House – Glenderaterra Valley – Gale Road

Map and Photo Gallery


Blease Fell seen with the Mell Fells from our first summit of the day, Latrigg 08:30 1°C 

Both Tim & myself were more than pleased with our new route & were eager to get boot onto hill to capture the morning sunrise but we almost didn’t make it due to a stretch of ice at the top of Gale Road which when I ran over it span my car on a sixpence almost 90° Having no control of the situation was a little daunting as you could imagine but thankfully there was no damage to the car if only a jab at my driving skills.

Tim got out & walked back to the cars behind me who had (thankfully) missed the spin & were waiting patiently for me to sort myself out, I managed to slowly ease the car (helped along by my handbrake & the ice) onto a better purchase where the car tyres gripped at the muddy verge where I then brought the whole drama to an end. I passed the first car who had waited for me & wound my window down ‘Im not sure you’ll get through there’ what happened he asked? I was spun around he laughed & said ‘bet yer sh#t yerself dint yer’ more so, over possibly writing off a eight week old car I guess you could say yeah, I was bloody close.

The best thing to is just go for it, the ice only covered a twenty foot section of the road, stick to the verge & just go for it (which was what I should have done) he then went for it quickly going from first to second gear heeding my advice to stick to the verge & made across without incident making me feel that bit more useless! I span my car around as Tim waited close to the ice patch where I also put some traction through to the tyres & made it to the otherside.

With that episode over we left all our gear with exceptions of my camera in the boot of the car before heading to up the path towards Latrigg summit , all the while witnessing more cars come to a halt as they hit the same patch of ice.

I’m just pleased it wasn’t just me!  Thankfully like me they all made it across safely.

Skiddaw & Dodd from our ascent on Latrigg.

The ground underfoot was frozen & a joy to walk over more so as the sheep had grazed the grass to Billiard Table standard.

Below a sea of frozen pastures from Threlkeld all the way through to St Johns-in-the-Vale as a slight cold wind nipped at the back of my ears, it was here I wished I hadn’t forgotten my hat & gloves.

 Derwent Water & the North Western Fells pre-dawn from Latrigg.

It wasn’t long before we had passed the wooden bench & was standing on top of Latrigg summit quickly joined by a solo fell runner who passed on his ‘morning’ as he jogged by.

The sun was still low & hadn’t breached the Dodd ridge east of our postion yet despite us wanting to see the sunrise from Latrigg we knew that we needed to grab every bit of daylight available due to our now ‘longer than scheduled walk’ before deciding to head back to the car to kit up properly.

The Mell Fells, Clough Head & Great Dodd ridge from Latrigg summit.

Blease Fell once more with a hint of sunrise afterglow.

Skiddaw & Dodd captures the morning sunlight.
We returned to the car with the sunrise on our backs eagerly awaiting to kit up so we could get properly under way, but despite all that there were always moments where we had to just stop & witness the beautiful light as it crested Jenkin Hill, & Lower Man, a real highlight of the whole day at a time when we hadn’t got properly started.

Whit Beck.

By the time we arrived back the car park was looking considerably full with large groups of walkers kitting up behind their cars, some of whom had already set off bound for the Haywell Monument that lies at the foot of the Tourist path.

However our route would differed in that we would first head for Lonscale Fell first by Whit Beck as seen in the photo then to go on & pick up the Cumbrian Way where we would trace beneath Lonscale Fell before picking up the steep path by Lonscale Crags.

We crossed Whit Beck which flowed over the stepping stones normally used to cross the beck, despite the sunshine overhead Whit Beck seemed freezer like but, was just another highlight from the early stages of our walk.

I guess all we needed was something to warm us up…

That’l do, although the path isn’t as steep as the photo suggest.
This is the path that flanks Lonscale Crags (seen sloping down right) it can be seen when viewed from afar as the path to the far right of Lonscale Fell which is temptingly wide yet devilishly steep. The path starts at a Wooden Gate which is soon left behind as the path rises steeply & continues to do so all the way to a series of false summits, the first of which numbs the mind followed by two further false summits packed much closer together. Ahead we keep with the fence despite the fact that many a walker before us had destroyed it in search of a direct summit, we decided to follow the fence all the way until we reached a dog leg which headed left, straight, then left again which gains you almost to the top of Lonscale Crags, by which point your legs are crying out for the undulating summit plateau of Lonscale Fell summit found just a couple of hundred feet away.

Sunburst over Tewit Tarn & St Johns-in-the-Vale.

The morning sun was partially hidden for most of our ascent which when I think about it possibly worked in our favours despite the now dip in temperature & slight increase in wind.

We headed left still following the fence that slowly fell further away right as we made for Lonscale Fell summit cairn. Body temperature soon dropped and I now had started to feel the pins & needles in my face, fingers & ears, I think by the time we would reach the summit it would be a great time to add more layers.

 Skiddaw Lesser Man, Skiddaw Little Man, Skiddaw & Bakestall seen from Lonscale Fell summit cairn.
We both downed packs whilst at the summit cairn, whilst Tim invaded his packed lunch I went for the extra layers which since losing my Rab gloves on Bowfell last week came in the form of an old pair of Berghaus fleece gloves that I had bought at the beginning of my walking career, to ease them over numb fingers felt like bliss.

 From the summit of Lonscale Fell looking north east towards Great Calva, Knott, Great Lingy Hell & Carrock Fell.

 Lesser Man, Little Man & Skiddaw as a bank of cloud threatens to close in on the summit.

Here, looking back on Lonscale Fell as we approach Jenkin Hill.

Lesser Man & Little Man from Jenkin Hill.

Hopes had now been dashed of a cloud free ascent on Skiddaw by the time we had reached Jenkin Hill, I guess Skiddaw just wouldn’t be the same on a bleak January day without its summit being topped with cloud, something of which we both knew if we were honest.

Not to worry, before we arrived at Jenkin Hill we asked one another ‘are we going for Lesser Man too?’

Aye why not…Blencathra & Lonscale Fell from our ascent on Lesser Man.
We crossed the main summit path witnessing walkers heading both to & from the summit, without pause we headed up Lesser Man in almost silence concentrating on the small, but steep job in hand not stopping through a slight burn before reaching the summit cairn.

Skiddaw Forest.

Derwent Water from Skiddaw Lesser Man.

The wind had picked up considerably by the time we reached the summit cairn as I pulled at my neck gaitor so it covered my exposed cheeks, I could see Tim despite him wearing winter gloves making fist with his hands, summit time was brief as we headed down, then back up to make the small ascent to Skiddaw Little Man.

It was in between both summits were we passed by a chap with two dogs one of which was yelping, through the sheer cold I wasn’t sure, the owners lips moved but nothing came out, he too like his dogs was in a hurry to get down as I looked down at his beetroot like bright red hands, I felt for the guy, unprepared or not, his hands looked bloody painful.

We press on.

 Arriving at the Col between Lesser Man & Little Man.

 Derwent Water from Skiddaw Little Man summit cairn.

Skiddaw ahead, with Carl Side & the Ullock Ridge seen over Broad End.

Skiddaw summit was well immersed in cloud as expected.

Despite the lack of visibility we really enjoyed the pull from Little Man before arriving on the summit plateau. Tim spoke of his half marthon run only the day before which had now started to burn at his calfs, no wonder the lad was aching.

Through the cloud a couple appeared with a rather happy looking Golden Labrador which marched straight towards us, I crouched down to pet the dogs head followed by a ‘t’alreet lad’ I seemed to get a smile back from the dog, either that or he couldn’t understand a word I’d just said. Tim on the otherhand drew the short straw when the dog decided to wipe its chops full of slaver across Tims midriff, I guess you had to be there, it looked much funnier in person.

We press on.

Not far from the summit now.

One of many summit shelters found along the summit top, the thought never occurred to stop, it was just too cold.

Skiddaw summit Trig Point.

We soon found ourselves at the summit Trig Point which we knew would be the briefest of visits due to the severe windchill, before arriving we had just passed two young girls leaving the summit with a small Spaniel, despite the cold we all managed a’morning’ followed by a smile, it’s the British thing to do I guess.

I couldn’t blame Tim not one bit for not wanting to hang around as I took a few summit photos as he followed the path north not before passing another stone shelter, I soon caught Tim up as we started our descent.

Descending Skiddaw north top.


It was only a short descent & before we knew it we had visibility again followed by a little warmth from the sun. Instead of following the path due north east Tim asked we go over to the edge of the ridge to have a look over what would have been our intended route of Ullock Pike & below, Barkbethdale.

We still had a little haze to deal with yet despite this we were able to pick out a solo walker on Randal Crag (far left) We could only assume he was making a direct ascent on Skiddaw via Randal & Gibralter Crag, most of which is by means of incredibly loose scree.

 Descending towards Bakestall.
Picking up the path for Bakestall is straight forward as the fence does all the work for you. The picture however doesn’t show how hard it can be on the knees.

 We were now back in the sun & only a few hundred yards away from Bakestall summit.

Great Calva over frozen pool.

Knott, Little Calva & Great Calva from Birkett Edge

We bumped into a fellow shortly before arriving at the Bakestall’s summit cairn who was adjusting his clothing ready for a summit of Skiddaw himself, we shared a quick hello then made our way to the summit cairn. For whatever reason sadly my photos didn’t come out as expected hence no summit shot. This maybe due to the hurry I was in to take said shots before suggesting we eat for lunch, which I felt was far more important!!

We soon found ourselves in descent again agreeing to stop off for lunch in the shadow of Dead Crags seen at the narrow col of the Birkett Edge.

 Great Calva seen with The Cumbrian Way as it snakes through Skiddaw Forest.

Lunch, with a view over Dead Crags.

 A host of northern fells including Great Cock Up, Meal Fell & Burn Todd.

Skiddaw House from The Cumbrian Way.

We may have over stayed our time spent overlooking Dead Crags such the pull it was difficult to place our butty boxes back into our packs, however we had a burst of sun to leave the fell by from where we would take on the Cumbrian Way which would almost total five miles before arriving back through the Glenderaterra Valley which brought on some great reflection time together with memories from our Crown Round tour which nearly saw me snap my leg in half after falling through a ditch close to the base of Great Calva.

The thing that altered the most however as we walked the Cumbrian Way was the weather & how quickly it changed from afternoon sunshine to a dreary dull where the brown of the heather seamlessly mixed with the grey of a slowly descending cloud.

Skiddaw House crept closer & closer, by which point the sunglasses we had worn to descend Bakestall by were firmly fixed above our heads.

Ahead, we spot movement close to Skiddaw House, Tim always tries to scare me up whenever we pass here, he knows my thoughts on Skiddaw House, especially when the cloud is rolling in on a dreary January afternoon.

‘There’s a girl dressed all in white clothes looking out the top window’ Tim shouted!

Always gets my hair on end that one, Im not looking.

 Skiddaw House.

The movement we had spotted belonged to a chap who had just left as we arrived, he seemed to be adjusteing his gear as all I saw was a faint figure pulling something over his head, his fleece I take it. We was then  joined by a young couple the guy of which turned out to be following his girlfriend as she ran alongside a whippet, we passed on our Hi’s as they checked at their map.

Before leaving Skiddaw House I managed to slip on a wet tree root which sort of span me looking back at Skiddaw House, despite the good recovery, it was also the exact spot from where I this picture, which I thought worked out well in the end.

We were soon on the tail of the chap who had left as we arrived, he crossed Sale How Beck shortly followed by Tim & myself, the chap seemed to enjoing his walking at his own pace & who could blame him as he pulled along side the path to let Tim & myself pass.

With The Stake flanked to our left we had the option to turn left where the path flanks Blease Fell, our route is to strictly keep right by following the Cumbrian Way beneath Burnt Horse where our path climbs steadily from the Glenderaterra Vally via a narrow ledge like path which by now, had advancing cloud cover threatening our remaining journey back to Gale Road.

By now it was close to 13.30 yet the low cloud & altogether low light made it feel much later in the day which can only be typical of a day as it draws to a end in the bleakness of January. Behind us Great Calva’s summit had all but vanished & so to had Longscale Crags that rose steeply to our flanks, we had spoken fondly of an ascent on Lonscale Fell via Lonscale Crags yet the cloud was so low we couldn’t pick our route no matter how hard we tried. WE soon rounded the base of Lonscale Crags & was presented with the same wooden gate we had left just hours earlier. Beneath us the sound of the traffic travelling along A66 meant our walk was coming to an end as did the the site of Gale Road car park, which was just a short distance away.

We took in the slight descent towards Whit Beck once more where we swilled our boots over the fast flowing water only to get them muddy again not two minutes later. We walked back those last few yards in almost silence pulling at the last latch on the gate before quietly closing it behind us.


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