Walking the Birketts, Ullock Pike and Longside Edge to Skiddaw

17th November 2018

Well, after three days of hogging the airing cupboard my gear has finally dried out after last Sundays Remembrance day service which was quite literally a wash out, but still a great day was had and for a worthy cause.

While my gear was still drying out Rod had emailed about the forth coming weekend and more importantly about the weather which if it was to stay as it was, looked absolutely fantastic with sunshine and clear skies forecast, and lets face it after last weekend I figured we'd earned it.

I returned Rod's email with this Birkett route 'Ullock Pike and Longside Edge to Skiddaw' which collects ten Birketts whilst traversing one of Lakelands best known ridge routes with the Ullock ridge. Although it's been the best part of two years since I was last here I'm ashamed to say that during my last visit which I collected Long Side and Ullock Pike as 'out and backs' during my Wainwrights in 30 Walks project I never got to experience just how fantastic the Ullock ridge really is, today I did that in blinding sunlight in the middle of November, what more could we ask for.

The Complete Lakeland Fells
By Bill Birkett

-Longside Edge Steep broken crags sweep down to the head of Southerndale on one side while a fine open prospect across Bassenthwaite Valley lies on the other.


Ascent: 3,330 Feet - 1,015 Metres
Birketts: 10, Watches - Ullock Pike - Long Side - Carl Side - Skiddaw Middle Top - Skiddaw High Man - Skiddaw North Top - Broad End - Bakestall - Cockup
Weather: Bright and Sunny Throughout. Feel Cool In The Wind. Highs of 12°C Lows of 6°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, High Side, Bassenthwaite
Area - Group: Northern - N/SKI
Miles: 7
Walking With: Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 4 Hours 40 Minutes
Route: High Side - Watches - Ulllock Pike - Long Side - Carl Side - Skiddaw Middle Top - Skiddaw High Man - Skiddaw North Top - Broad End - Bakestall - Cockup - Cockup Gill - Barkbeth Gill - High Side

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA12 4QY
Grid Reference: NY 236 431
Notes: Take the third right from the A6 at Crosswaite Roundabout and follow the A591 for approximately four and a half miles before passing the Ravenstone Hotel on the left where you need to keep a look out for a right turn sign posted Orthwaite, turn right here and follow the lane for around 600 yards, and the parking spaces will appear on the right which provide excellent access onto the back O'Skiddaw fells including the Ullock Pike ridge. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


The view over Bassenthwaite towards Sale Fell and Ling Fell from the ascent of Watches 08:25am 6°C

Due to todays walk not being too long in terms of mileage we arranged to meet at High Side on the Orthwaite Road at 08:30am. I arrived first after travelling along the A66 during sunrise which left Blencathra in a pink afterglow while her lower slopes were shrouded in mist, the site alone set the standards for todays walk. The sun slowly inched its way into the the bluest of skies illuminating the dew covered fields before I left the A66 for the A591 where the mass of Skiddaw left the remainder of my journey under shade. I arrived at the parking spaces at High Side first parking with ease alongside two other cars whose owners looked like they had just left.

With Rod still a good five minutes away I kitted up behind my car then peered over the hedgerow and took in the view towards Binsey who's summit has a dash of sunlight across the top. Rod arrived and we greet as usual with a handshake. As I waited for Rod to kit up another car arrived who's driver got out along with a young long haired Jack Russell "don't mind dogs do you" he asked? it was too late the little scamp was already jumping up at me leaving wet paw marks over my walking trousers "nah mate I explained, she can probably smell my two dogs!"

Todays walk is pretty straight forward although if keeping to Birketts version both the start and the end of the walk requires some map consultation which is what we do before leaving the cars, it pays I guess to do your homework the evening before as Rod and I both agreed on the route Bill Birkett took to gain todays first summit of Watches.

Southerndale, Skiddaw, Carl Side, Longside and Ullock Pike from Watches summit.
Having left the cars we passed through a gate avoiding the Bridleway towards the left (towards Barkbeth Farm) and instead track steeply over grass as the peaked summit of Ullock Pike crests over our horizon, with the steep grassy rise behind us we now flank left and head towards a gated wall. After passing through the gate we took in the view of Binsey behind us which was by now in full sunlight, a steep but short pull is required alongside the stone wall before we arrive at Watches summit where we are greeted by a mild breeze....phew, that was steeper than I remembered.

Looking back on Watches while under the shadow of Skiddaw and Ullock Pike.
We spend a few moments on Watches summit while taking in the view back over Binsey or Bassenthwaite while the view south along the Ullock Pike ridge is still very much in shade although with each minute passed streaks of sunlight breach the col at Carl Side then appear further down the valley leaving the summit of Watches with a dashing of sunlight across its summit.

Looking over Barkbethdale towards Randel Crag and Skiddaw.
The rays of sunlight increase and soon breached the summit of Long Side which we observed from the path below Ullock Pike. As we were now walking directly into the sunlight we found ourselves back in the shade just below the summit.

Looking back on Watches as three Mountain Bikers stop to let us pass.
Continuing with our ascent three Mountain Bikers stop just below the summit to let us pass and cheery 'mornings' are shared. With just a few hundred feet to go we start to get glimpses of direct sunlight which forced me to look down at my boots such the intensity of the light, Rod I imagined, the same.

Ullock Pike summit is just ahead.

With the summit of Ullock Pike almost reached our shaded world was plunged into direct sunlight within what felt like the flick of a switch which for me, does wonders for the soul.

During these long dark days I do feel like a solar panel when the sun comes out.

From Ullock Pike we were able to get this amazing view of the North Western fells with Bowfell, Esk Pike, Great End, the Scafells and Kirk Fell in the distance.

Long Side, Carl Side and Skiddaw Little Man from Ullock Pike summit.
After stopping to take in the views I de-shoulder takiing out my sunglasses and while I was at it, I add my gloves then swap my baseball cap for a warm beanie as it's starting to feel a little chilled now.

This view captures Derwent Water, the North Western, Central and Eastern Fells

Despite temperatures feeling much cooler at 2,000ft ABSL down there in the valleys it's still relatively mild for the time of year which explains why you get the mist at this time of year as the warmer air mixes with the cooler air.

Just in case you were wondering the shaded fell in the foreground is Dodd but you already knew that.

Here looking back on Ullock Pike as we continue along the ridge towards Carl Side.
The chap who had parked alongside us back at High Side is just about to appear on Ullock Pike summit any minute now.

One last photo before we go on to summit Carl Side.
Truly amazing.

Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man and Carl Side from Long Side.
With Long Side just a stones throw away we soon arrived while watching the first walkers summit Skiddaw. That's Carl Side directly ahead while our path from which we will gain Skiddaw can be seen off to the left.

Carl Side summit.
The Dodds and the Helvellyn range seen rising from the valley mist.


Crystal views of Skiddaw from Carl Side.
Its so clear we can actually make out Skiddaw's summit cairn from Carl Side summit.

Skiddaw Little Man and Lesser Man seen over Broad End.
Skiddaw has two 'Broad Ends' the most popular can be found directly below the south top or between Little Man and Carl Side where a traverse can be made in order to gain each summit respectively. The second 'Broad End' is recognised as a summit below Skiddaw's north top which we will be visiting today as part of Birketts original route.

Skiddaw Little Man from Carlside Tarn.
Despite the glorious sunshine and as suggested by the ripples on Carlside Tarn the wind is gaining strength now and with it, the windchill begins to fall.

Looking back on Carl Side from the start of the ascent on Skiddaw.
"Hey ho lets go"

The view over Southerndale towards Long Side and Ullock Pike.

Are we actually moving away from Carl Side?
"Doesn't feel like it!"

The view over Sale How towards Lonscale Fell, Mungrisdale Common, Blencathra, Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags.

It was another look at your feet kind of ascent this time not caused by blinding sunlight but by the steep descent underfoot, ok, the path is very steep in my view but remains steady until the very last section when the cairn at the top of the path comes into view, that's when you slip it down a gear and don't stop until that top cairn is reached.

Skiddaw Little Man from Skiddaw Middle Top.
On reaching the top of the path we drew our breaths back and continued towards the Middle Top where we were surprised to find that we would have the main summit to ourselves albeit with an advancing crowd fast approaching.

Skiddaw Middle Top.
Not an actual cairn but a stone shelter.

Skiddaw summit.

Having taken a few photos back at Middle Top we hurried towards the summit which we had to ourselves for just a few minutes before two mountain bikers followed by a steady stream of walkers.

Skiddaw summit shelter.


Broad End and Bakestall from Skiddaw North Top.
With Skiddaw's summit getting increasingly busier we left for the North Top then started our descent towards Broad End instantly feeling the warm sunshine having left those summit winds behind.

Skiddaw North Top from Broad End.
We left the path below the North Top and took in the gentlest of slopes before arriving at the grassy shoulder of Broad End, I for one could have stood here just soaking up the sun and taking in the views but we still have Bakestall and Cockup to summit so we re-join the path at the corner of the fence and begin the descent towards Bakestall.

The back O'Skidda fells seen during our descent towards Bakestall.
The dark area below the skyline in the distance is haze which lingered for the best part of the day. Haze would never normally associate with November but here we are and there it is.

High Pike, Great Calva, Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags.
We're not too far away from Bakestall summit now.

Blencathra, Sale How and Lonscale Fell seen as we approach Bakestall summit.

Skiddaw and Skiddaw Little Man from Bakestall summit at 673'

Having passed a young couple making their ascent on Skiddaw we continued to follow the fence line and 'dropped on' Bakestall summit then took a wander towards the north cairn just a few yards away.

Bakestall north cairn at 652'

It's from Bakestall's subsidiary summit do we make our descent on Cockup.

Cockup seen over Dead Beck with Binsey in the distance.
From Bakestall's north cairn we head westwards instantly spotting Dead Beck in the distance, below our feet a single trod navigates the western flank of Bakestall to a crossing over Dead Beck, if you look carefully you might be able to spot the path after it crosses Dead Beck in the centre left of the photo.

Bakestall from Cockup summit.

With Dead Beck crossed we continued to follow the grassy trod over even ground, by now I was sweltering and it was time to lose the hat and gloves and enjoy the remainder of the walk while the soaking up some Winter sun.

It's time to get the map out again.

It's fair to say that Rod and I are sticklers for sticking to the route and that suits us both so here we take time to consult the map which suggests after passing through this gate we continue as far as the top of the field were the sheep can be seen over on the right then take a second path to the left prior to reaching the road which passes over Mill Beck.

Well, that's the plan anyway!

Descending Cockup with Spring like views towards Binsey.

The profile of Ullock Pike appears in the distance.

Looking back at Cockup after passing a row of lovely Hawthorns.

After passing through this gate we stopped to admire the view back towards Cockup while a warm midday sun beats down on us. With this gate behind us we continued to follow the track alongside the stonewall which housed the sheep we had observed earlier, at the edge of the field we turn left (prior to reaching the road) and head towards a wooded area from where Mill Beck is crossed.

Crossing Mill Beck.
We'd managed to keep our boots warm and dry for the duration, that was until we passed through the fields seen in the previous photos and even then any mud could have been avoided, it was here as we crossed Mill Beck did I feel we'd made the right decision to add gaiters this morning and although we even managed to give our boots a good swill, they didn't stay clean for long.

Arriving at Hole House.
With Mill Beck behind us ascended slightly and emerged from the woods onto open farmland, we seemed to be in the bottom right corner of the field but easily spotted a trod which lead through the field to the top right corner, after squelching through the field we found a path that branched left which lead us down to the wooden footbridge over Barkbeth Gill from where Hole House appeared.

Taking the permissive path around Barkbeth Farm.
You can follow the Bridleway which passes Hole House back to the Main Road but Birkett recommends to take the permissive path around Barkbeth Farm instead, the path is easy to follow and does exactly as it says on the tin emerging us back on the Bridleway and High Side bound.

Great Cockup and Great Sca Fell seen over Barkbeth Farm.
With less than half a mile back to High Side we took the permissive path around Barkbeth Farm passing barking dogs while our noses were treated to the smell of wood smoke which billowed from a caravan close to the farm. One of Birketts last mentions of this walk was of the rubbing stone found close to the entrance to Barkbeth Farm which we passed in wonder. Now back on the Bridleway High Side was just minutes away while over my left shoulder the pointed peak of Ullock Pike dominated my view just as it had four and a half hours earlier.


Back to top