The Harry Griffin 2,000 footers Walk 19 -The Traverse of the Dodds

11th July 2015

I had a decent weather window from where I could hand pick from around eight of my remaining two thousander walks, I really didn't plan to continue the theme with the eastern fells but felt it fitting to continue the Dodd ridge along with my last walk on the Helvellyn ridge a couple of weeks ago.

As with most of the two thousander challenges Harry's route isn't without its "out and backs" this walk includes two which aren't really too worrying, just something that can be taken within the walks stride so let me talk you through its route and its switchbacks. On todays walk ten two thousanders are to be collected starting with Randerside before continuing steeply onto Great Dodd, from Great Dodd the first "out and back" to collect is Clough Head and Calfhow Pike before returning to Great Dodd from where Watson's Dodd is summited but not collected as oddly enough, Francis Faulkingham states that the depression between Great Dodd and Stybarrow Dodd isn't enough to regard Watson's Dodd as a separate two thousander, but as Harry did "I went there anyway"

From Watsons Dodd the two separate two thousanders on Stybarrow Dodd are collected before heading east gaining both Green Side and the second "out and back" with Sheffield Pike, before a return over Glencoyne Head from where I will collect the two remaining two thousanders on Hart Side summit before returning to High Row via the secluded valley of Dowthwaitehead.

It all started with a bit of banter at the car park at High Row.
Freeman of the Hills
"The Traverse of the Dodds"
But the song of larks accompanied me nearly all the way and the day gradually improved from morning mist and hazy grey-blue shapes to the brightness of summer evenings.
Harry Griffin

Ascent: 3,578 Feet - 1'091 Metres
Summits Over 2,000Ft: 10, Randerside - Great Dodd - Clough Head - Calfhow Pike - Stybarrow Dodd - Stybarrow Dodd (NY 343 186) - Green Side - Sheffield Pike - Hart Side - Hart Side (NY 362 195)
Weather: Overcast with hill fog to start, periods of bright spells with gust over the summits. Highs of 16°C Lows of 13°C
Parking: Car Park, High Row
Area: Eastern
Miles: 14
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 7 Hours 10 Minutes
Route: High Row - Groove Beck - Bruts Moss - Randerside - Great Dodd - Clough Head - Calfhow Pike - Watson's Dodd - Stybarrow Dodd - Green Side - Glencoyne Head - Nick Head - Sheffield Pike - Nick Head - Glencoyne Head - Hart Side - Dowthwaitehead - High Row

Map and Photo Gallery


High Row 7:50am 13°C

The forecast had predicted light cloud well above the summits, what I actually got as I drove along the A66 was cloud so low it blanketed both the Mell Fells to a point just above the tree tops. Feeling a little disheveled I continued towards High Row along the narrow lane after leaving the A66 named New Road, this a route I haven't taken to reach High Row before as I normally travel along the Ullswater Lake road before passing through Dockray, my alternative route this morning was narrow and by the time I reached High Row I was thankful I hadn't met anyone coming in the opposite direction.

On reaching High Row I found the car park blocked by four 4x4's, their owners stood chatting loudly who I gathered were local farmers. It was kinda awkward as they looked at me, I looked at them thinking come on guys I need to park here...but that got me nowhere, so, awkwardly I reversed my car narrowly into what I can only describe as a hedge from where I started my kitting up procedure whilst sat on the passenger seat watched by a black and white Collie. After I had kitted up I had no choice but to walk past the farmers on whose conversation turned comically into whose sheep they were looking at, it was like one of those old farmers meets, were in the past local farmers would arrange on a certain day in the year to give sheep back who had wondered in to so and so's pastures, except today it was just a dreary morning at High Row with more 4x4's than you can shake a stick at.

"Off into the mist eh lad" said one farmer laughing at the same time, aye I says, looks that way doesn't it, if you see any of his sheep ler-us-know will yer, his voice and the rest of the farmers still laughing, it would seem I was on the end of some banter, on whose behalf, I wasn't quite sure. I smiled while adding a little laugh myself, before opening the gate on route to Grove Beck.

This wasn't to be my last meeting with the farmers, but more on that later.

Looking back on High Row from the Old Coach Road.

It had rained heavy during the night evidence of which was plain to see puddles had formed along the path. The light was low and not what you would expect on a morning at the begining of July, with this though the morning tempreture was into double figures but this didnt stop me adding my jacket whilst back at the car park more so, as I'm wearing shorts today. There is a light mild wind here at valley level which I guess will only gain in strength once I am on the summits.

I continue along the Old Coach Road dodging puddles until Grove Beck was reached where I was presented by two sign posts, the one on my left Dowthwaite Head and the other Great Dodd at "two half miles" this was my path.

Here looking back on High Row (far right) with hill fog still lingering over Gowbarrow Fell.

Ahead, Randerside under thick hill fog.

The grassy track was easy to follow but is swollen with last nights rain fall making diversions around the boggy bits tiring and a little frustrating. After only half an hour into the walk both my socks are damp and my legs are saturated. I look down at my shorts which oddly, are wet around the bottom which just shows how damp it was underfoot.

Soon spots of rain would highlight at my jacket getting heavier by the minute but thankfully the shower didn't last too long. The sound of Groove Beck accompanies me as do the Skylarks who dart at me through the mist, I don't ever recall seeing as many as I have this morning, which was a real highlight so early into the walk.

Further up the path the sound of Groove Beck has long since gone as it falls away in the distance, here a defining left turn in the path takes on the last half mile over steep ground towards Randerside summit where all I can see is around thirty foot in front of me, the wind that I felt back at High Row had gained in strength feeling much cooler too. Gaining Randerside this morning felt a little surreal, more so because I hadn't been here before which left me stumbling across the summit rather than gaining it, made more menacing by the thick hill fog.

Parts of me had written the walk off whilst trailing along Groove Beck not half an hour earlier, I've seen, and been in enough situations when I know hill fog is either here to stay or felt that it will soon clear, my intuition told me it was here to stay mostly because of the lack of wind and how mild it was, I only hope I had guessed wrong.

Approaching Randerside summit cairn.

After unknowingly topping out on Randerside summit I make my way towards the summit cairn, the summit itself sits shelf like a little off the beaten path, had I not glanced up I could have walked right on past, thankfully not. Through the cloud the air brightens, I look up and see a strong sun trying to pierce through thick fog...go on, come on! you can do it.

My arrival here at Randerside was nothing short of heavenly.

Within a matter seconds, the cloud had started to lift illuminating the ridge towards Great Dodd.
Within the space it took to take the last and this photo the hill fog began to clear revealing the ridge towards Great Dodd, I couldn't help but feel a little fluttered at how quickly the cloud was lifting, it felt too good to be true...


Meanwhile, back at the summit cairn the views were starting to open up.
Things were definitely on the up, or so I thought.

No, no, no, no dont go!
So you can imagine the dip in my morale the moment the cloud came back in...still, I told myself, there's promise in them there clouds. As quickly as the hill fog had lifted another bank rolled in to replace it which left me feeling a little less impressed that that of two minutes ago, still it was fantastic while it lasted. The fog lifting the way it did, even if it did come back in again showed potential which spurred me on towards Great Dodd summit, having not gained Great Dodd by Randerside before it would have been great to see the ridge ahead but there was no use complaining about something I couldn't change as I dug my walking poles deep as the ridge rose steeply all the way towards Great Dodd summit.

Great Dodd summit.

After the steep pull in thick fog Great Dodd was reached marking my second two thousander of the morning. From Great Dodd summit my first "out and back" of the day will need to be done in order to collect both Clough Head and Calfhow Pike, a part of me tells me to leave my pack somewhere off path from the summit, but with my luck I probably wont find it on my return so it stays shouldered.

Taking the ridge between Great Dodd and Clough Head.
That's more like it, having soon found the path I descended Great Dodd whilst witnessing the scattering of hill fog over Calfhow Pike, the warmth from the sun was by now burning through the fog quite nicely which hopefully would have fully lifted upon my return to Great Dodd, if not sooner, but for now just seeing the fog lift was hill walking at its best.


Calfhow Pike and Clough Head now clear of hill fog.

It didn't take long for the cloud to clear revealing both Calfhow Pike and Clough Head in their entirety. With the hill fog cleared it would seem that the sun is now hidden by cloud leaving the ridge ahead looking rather dull and in poor light, I can't have it all I guess.

Instead of collecting Calfhow Pike first, I leave it for the return journey.

Light and shadow as I make my way towards Clough Head.
There was a healthy wind blowing across the ridge which left some spectacular light shows as the cloud above scattered across the skies, with this a noticeable temperature drop leaving me at times, blowing warm air into cupped fist. I figure the best way to keep warm is to keep moving, which I do, not stopping until the summit of Clough Head was reached.

Great Dodd from Clough Head summit.

Clough Head was soon reached, only feeling the bite once at the summit shoulder I decided to have a quick two minute rest within the shelter which possibly only lasted around thirty or so seconds as the wind wasn't just strong, but chilly too. Once I was back on my feet I stride away north in order to cast views over Blencathra and Skiddaw who's summits are still topped out in cloud, but ridges, clearly defined. Further west todays second choice walk around the Coledale Fells were enjoying some hazy sunshine although the higher summits of Grisedale Pike and Grasmoor had their fair share of cloud cover too, in relation to this and despite the early hill fog I felt I had made a good choice on the eastern fells this morning.

With the haze I found there was no need to try and capture images of both Blencathra and Skiddaw, instead they both remain targets within my campaign as I cast eye on the routes I will be using over the next coming weeks.

With this, I cup hands and blow warm air once more before leaving the Clough Head bound for Calfhow Pike.

Great Dodd and Calfhow Pike.

The view over Thirlemere and the Raven Crag from Calfhow Pike.
It seems a lot sunnier down there than it does up here, with Calfhow Pike collected I now make my way back onto Great Dodd, behind me I notice a group of walkers who are just leaving Clough Head, best get a move on eh.

Watson's Dodd and Stybarrow Dodd seen shortly after leaving Great Dodd for the second time.

I shoulder Great Dodd for the second time and pass the summit cairn, then the summit shelter before my descent onto Watson's Dodd, this is a classic hill walk and it seems I have its connecting ridges to myself with the exception of the large group behind me. Watson's Dodd isn't on my list of two thousanders despite its summit being well over two and a half thousand feet it was Francis Faulkingham who noted that he thought the summit shouldn't be included because of the lack of depression between it and its neighbouring summits.

I'm sure when Harry did this walk back in July 77 he thought much the same as I do on the subject which is why he included it, but collectively not into his tally, just as I will.

Here, looking back on Great Dodd shortly before arriving at Watson's Dodd.
The large group that are behind me are making great pace having just summited Great Dodd, already splinter walkers are starting to leave the summit and are making their way down the ridge, blimey they don't hold back do they!

Brown Cove Crags, Helvellyn Lower Man and Helvellyn from Watson's Dodd.
It's now approaching lunch time and my belly is telling me to put food into it, so with this I make my mind up to head onto Stybarrow Dodd, find the shelter and maybe think about having some lunch out of the wind.

Watson's Dodd seen with a splash of sun as I start the short ascent on Stybarrow Dodd.
If you look closley, you can see the group of walkers heading for Watson's Dodd summit.

Stybarrow Dodd from errm...Stybarrow Dodd summit.

There are two summits to be collected on Stybarrow Dodd, the more popular of which is this one and the highest by around 10 feet at 843' found just "off the path" which used to have a great slab of slate sticking out of it which has now sadly gone. Stybarrow Dodd second summit is just ahead and is claimed as a individual summit to which I find confusing as Faulkingham stated that the depression between Watsons Dodd and Stybarrow Dodd didn't warrant Watson's Dodd a summit, yet the two summits of Stybarrow Dodd with hardly no depression do?

Odd and strangely confusing! nontheless, I' as Harry did, are mererly following the guidelines set by Francis Faulkingham.

Anyway, never mind all that, where's the sun gone?

Stybarrow Dodd seen from Stybarrow Dodd subsiduary summit (NY 343 186)
Having been easily and utterly confused I really needed time to rest my brain, but, had completely forgotten to visit the shelter/stone wall found on Sty barrow Dodd main summit, with this I leave the subsidiary summit and head east towards Green Side where I hope I'll find a little shelter out of the wind and eat lunch.

Green Side seen with Hart Side (left) taken shortly after leaving Stybarrow Dodd summit.
The sun was back out as I made my grassy descent before picking up the short trek to gain Green Side. I stop short of the summit at a collection of stones seen just right off the path up ahead.

Here, looking back on a sunlit Stybarrow Dodd.

Raise, Catstye Cam and Helvellyn seen from my lunch spot.

I de-shoulder once I arrive at the stones, one of them is large enough to protect me from the wind as I prop my back up against it all the while watching the cloud formations scatter across the fell side, once I had stopped moving the chill started to dig in quite rapidly, the stark difference in temperature between when the sun was in or out was a rather chilly one, nonetheless, lunch was eaten from within my sheltered spot as two couples pass on the "afternoons" as they head up towards Stybarrow Dodd.

Next for me is the gentle rise that Green Side will provide followed by the steep decline over Nick Head, then a steady trudge onto Sheffield Pike summit before a steep return onto Glencoyne Head, it all seems relatively easy, with the exception of the steep ascent onto Glencoyne Head, lets just hope the jam butties that I'm eating will give me the necessary energy boost that my body will need for that return leg.

Hart Side from Green Side summit.

Views over the far Sheffield Pike and the Far Eastern fells during my descent over Nick Head.
My path starts to fall away steeply, more so as I over look during the descent of Nick Head where I pass two couples one of which seem to struggling, I pass both with an "afternoon" and get out of breath replies back. During the descent I feel a stone in my right boot, I must have been carrying it for a while and hadn't noticed, well, it shall have to stay there until I reach Sheffield Pike.

Cloud starts to gather over Helvellyn, Catstye Cam will soon follow.

SheffieldPike summit.

'H' is for the Howard Estate of Greystoke.


Sheffield Pike summit.

 'M' for the Marshall Estate of Patterdale.

Ullswater seen from a favorite viewing place of mine.

Six years has passed since my first summit of Sheffield Pike, back then it was the only summit I climbed that day, but it was then I chose to eat my lunch whilst sat on the boulder and although I had already eaten I de-shouldered once more and took in the views, just as I had during my first visit here, I think this spot will always remain a special one.

Oh, dont forget that stone in yer boot Sharkey.



Glencoyne Head seen with Hart Side.
It was no use, no matter how long I could have watched the world go by the re-ascent over Nick Head wasn't going to climb itself by which time the sun had come back out and the cloud had also started to clear over Helvellyn, incidently, that's Hart Side over there on the right with Great Dodd peeping out from behind.

Looking back over Nick Head towards Sheffield Pike.
Why does the sun only decide to shine, once I have left the summits!

Hart Side over Glencoyne Head.
The "out and back" to gain Sheffield Pike was as costly on ones lungs as one had predicted, only stopping once however to take the previous photo and to have a moan about how hot it was now getting. The pull on Glencoyne Head was worth it though as I headed steadily to gain my last two summits in Hart Side and its subsidiary summit found close by.

Great Dodd and Randerside from Hart Crag summit.

On reaching the summit I noticed two walkers were just about to leave, we were too far away for a "afternoon" so we just gave each other a quick hands up before they headed off, funnily enough, towards Hart Side subsiduary summit. The cloud had started to gather once more leaving the fell side in a dull tone of greens and browns.

After a quick survey of the Trough found on Hart Side's summit I headed off to collect my two thousander's of the day.

Heading out to Hart Side subsiduary summit.
Where I'm not expecting to find a cairn.

Hart Side subsiduary summit (NY 362 195)
With no cairn, still, the Cotton Grass was lovely to see.

Ullswater seen from Birkett Fell Cairn.
Although I have summited Hart Side many times I never found the time to visit Birkett Fell, today I wanted to change that.

Birkett Fell Cairn and Plaque.
Built to commemorate Lord Birkett of Ullverston who in the 1960's proposed against turning Ullswater into a reservoir.

Views over Sheffield Pike and the Far Eastern Fells as I descend Birkett Fell for Dowthwaitehead.

A stone wall is soon picked up close to the summit which I follow sometimes quite steeply as a faint paths lead both sides of the wall, ahead a null between Birkett Fell and Watermillock Common confirms my exit and entrance into Dowthwaitehead. The path at first was difficult to spot and I had visions of making a pathless descent all the back through to Dowthwaitehead, however soon enough I stumble across the path as it strides through long grasses taking in the lay of Birkett Fell on its flank. Ahead I can see the tarmac road that supplies Dowthwaitehead Farm, however it's still a good distance away just yet.

High Row can be seen on the near right corner of the tree plantation in the centre of the photo, here I head left and fall into the valley by subtle descent spitting me out right on Dowthwaitehead Farm, a place that myself and David Hall passed through last September, seeing the path we used as we climbed high over Rush Gill brought back some good memories from a great day spent walking through one of Lakeland's lesser know valleys of Deepdale.

High Brow over Dowthwaite Head farm.

I soon start to pick up signs perched upon gate post confirming my way back to Dowthwaitehead Farm, my track underfoot changes to concrete as I soon find myself walking through the farms out buildings, not before the crossing Rush Gill via a sturdy wooden foot bride.

Dowthwaitehead Farm was just as I remembered it, almost lost in time.

Dowthwaitehead Farm.

I emerge onto the tarmac path now carrying both my walking poles in my right hand. I take in my nostalgic surroundings for my many reasons but mainly how traditional the farm has stayed over the years. Ahead I hear the distinct rattle of a cattle grid and the engine noise from a quad bike which is being driven by one of the farmers who I had seen this morning, soon a 4x4 rounds the track and to my amazement the farmer who I had the banter with gets out, what happened next was one of the best comedy moments ever as the quad bike whose engine had been turned off for a good thirty seconds lets out this almighty back fire sure enough as the farmer was stood right next to it, the farmer shouts "who's shooting!" as his son laughs, its the bloody bike!

The farmer who is now comedy faking a being shot walks over to me, puts his hand on my shoulder smiles and says, "had a good day lad"

Aye I says.


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