Skiddaw via Ullock Pike

2nd February 2019

Weeks ago I had arranged to walk with two friends but due to the adverse conditions we decided to put the walk forward for a few weeks which left me with a free weekend. David and Rod had planned to walk from Roehead to Arthur's Pike using the new Ullswater Way path and despite this I thought I'd put the feelers out to ask would they like to join me on a route I'd planned which would require the use of two cars.

The route which I'd devised starts from Ravenstone Hotel and finishes at Underscar on Skiddaw's southern slopes. If David and Rod agreed this meant we could capture Skiddaw for all she has to offer in full Winter conditions incorporating the Ullock Pike ridge then onto Skiddaw, Little Man and descend while taking in the fabulous view over Keswick and Derwent Water.

It didn't take long for David and Rod to return my email, both more than up for a Winter excursion on what I feel is one of Lakelands best Winter walks, made better today with the 'not knowing' if we were ever going to get any views at all.

Wainwright Guide Book Five
The Northern Fells

-Ullock Pike Ridge The ridge, curved like a bow, is known as the Edge, and the dark peak is Ullock Pike.


Ascent: 3,138 Feet - 957 Metres
Wainwrights: 5, Ullock Pike - Long Side - Carl Side - Skiddaw - Skiddaw Little Man
Visting: Skiddaw Lesser Man
Weather: Overcast To Start With Low Cloud Base. Turning Brighter Throughout The Morning. Highs of 5°C Lows of -1°C Feels Like -16.7°C
Parking: Using x2 Cars, Roadside Parking Near Ravenstone Hotel - Parking Spaces Behind Underscar Hotel
Area: Northern
Miles: 7.2
Walking With: David Hall & Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 5 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Ravenstone Hotel - Ling How - The Edge - Ullock Pike - Long Side - Carl Side - Skiddaw - Skiddaw Little Man - Skiddaw Lesser Man - Hawell Monument - Gale Road - Underscar Hotel

Parking Details for Roadside Parking Near Ravenstone Hotel
Nearest Post Code: CA12 4QG
Grid Reference: NY 235 329
Notes: With room for around five cars the popular roadside parking close to Ravenstone Hotel gives excellent access to the Ullock Pike ridge which of course can mean that the parking spaces can fill up quite quickly, my advice should you wish to secure a parking place is to arrive early. Parking is free.

Parking Details for Parking Spaces behind Underscar Hotel
Nearest Post Code: CA12 4PH
Grid Reference: NY 280 825

A popular car park found at the top of Gale Road north of Keswick this car park is great for easy access onto Skiddaw or Latrigg but tends to be busy no matter the season and has recently been resurfaced from the Hotel at Underscar to the car park itself. Arrive early and you are guaranteed a parking place but the car park can fill up quickly especially during peak seasons. Parking is free.

During the Winter months Gale Road can be affected by ice and the alternative to parking at the car park at the top is to park at the parking spaces opposite Underscar Manor Hotel, here you will find parking for up to six cars, parking is free.



Map and Photo Gallery


Looking back on the Lord's Seat fells and Bassenthwaite Lake from climb to join Ling How and the Ullock Pike ridge -1°C 08:45am

It was -3°C when I left home and I drove north under starry skies with dawn breaking along the A66 towards Keswick. Feeling slightly deflated as it had revealed overcast skies and low cloud which shrouded the likes of Blencathra, Clough Head and Grisedale fells, this wasn't on the forecast. I had arranged to meet Rod at the parking spaces behind Underscar Hotel from where we'd drive to Ravenstone Hotel to meet David. on arriving at Underscar I saw David's car parked up instead and looking slightly confused David told me that Rod was running late and that he'd meet us at Ravenstone Hotel so I swapped all my gear into David's car and we caught up while driving the few miles towards Ravenstone Hotel. Rod actually caught David's car up and we parked with ease grabbing the last two spaces opposite the Hotel.

The first topic of conversation was the forecast and how, right about now we should be looking up at clearing skies only instead we had a void of grey cloud over our heads which was so low even Ling How was below the clag. Bugger. Feeling optimistic though we locked the cars and began the steep climb through the Plantation clearing the tree tops while trying to catch our breaths, blimey I'd forgot just how steep this ascent was. The path eased slightly as we ascended towards Ling How and this time we didn't stop for breaths until all the hard work was behind us, it's been a while since I've had to do that! Up ahead we spot a solo walker crossing Ling How who then disappeared into the cloud, the path eases again as Ling How was reached, as was the snow line.

Our mono view over Southerdale towards Great Knott and Buzzard Knott from Ling How.
With the snow line reached we were able to assess the cloud base which was pretty grim to say the least. There was no sign of Ullock Pike only a void of white lingering cloud which appeared stagnant with no movement at all, crikey.

Meanwhile north over the Scottish border...
A snow capped Criffle is clearly seen over the Solway Firth, so clear we could actualy see the stone walls on Criffle's lower slopes.

David and Rod close to Ullock Pike summit.
With the ridge gained we head south towards Ullock Pike which is made up of a series of rocky ridges and false summits. The cloud at this point was still low but seemed to be lifting ever so slowly revealing the ridge up ahead but never lifting from it. Just prior to the last push towards the summit we down packs in a sheltered area and add crampons, even though the snow was quite powdery the crampons will at least give us the confidence and traction to keep pushing forward.

Skiddaw and Randal Crag seen from Ullock Pike summit.
Still feeling positive we reached Ullock Pike summit in the hope that we might get the chance to see the ridge ahead but sadly the ridge was still cloaked in a void of white with only the dark slate and scree highlighted on Skiddaw's Randal Crag. On the slightest of positive notes the light started to appear brighter at the col between Skiddaw and Carl Side and it was noted that this might just be those final moments before the cloud starts to lift.

Ullock Pike from Long Side.
We were right! On leaving Ullock Pike we started the slight descent towards Long Side and somewhere in between light started to penetrate through the cloud and slowly but surely in pockets here and there the cloud began to peel away, a spectacle that still does wonders for the soul even after all these years of experiencing it.

Carl Side from Long Side.
The next few moments was spent watching the cloud peel away from the ridge revealing blue skies in the distance and Carl Side below which is where we are heading next, not before we de-shoulder again to add our Winter gloves owing to the windchill we were now experiencing.

David and Rod heading for Carl Side.

With the Ullock ridge behind us we descended and began to make our way over to Carl Side experiencing deep powdery snow for the first time "It wouldn't be so bad if the person whose footsteps I'm following had the same stride as me!" David laughed.

Waves of powdery snow as we approach Carl Side summit.
With Skiddaw Little Man in the distance.

Skiddaw Little Man from Carl Side.
Note the wisp of cloud over Little Man summit..

Looking down on Carsleddam with Derwent Water in the distance from Carl Side summit.
The cloud is begining to break just nicely now with the darker cloud approaching from the right having just lifted from the Ullock ridge. At this point David takes out his weather device which records a bone chilling -14.4°C I think it's best we keep moving lads.

Skidaw Little Man seen over Broad End.
Time for one more shot before we start the ascent on via Skiddaw's steep west flank.

Skiddaw from Carl Side.
It was time to leave Carl Side but before we do we spy a solo walker making slow progress on the less prominent path seen over on the right, we are about to find out why his/her ascent was so slow.

Skiddaw Little Man from a very frozen Carlside Tarn.

Wonderful cloud arrangement over Long Side and Ullock Pike.
It was time to start our ascent on Skiddaw via the very steep west flank, a path that is notoriously steep even in the best of conditions. The snow after leaving Carl Side was just a few inches deep and was still powdery underfoot, we expected the snowpack to firm up once more height was gained but this never materialised, instead, the snow remained powdery for much of the ascent.

Looking down on Carl Side which has now been consumed by cloud again as has Long Side and Ullock Pike.
We continued with our ascent only stopping to witness the fabulous views such as this as more cloud moved in and settled over Carl Side, we all agreed our timing today with the cloud has been impeccable.

There was many reasons to stop for a breather!
Around half the way through the ascent the path starts to get steeper which was just a good a reason to stop and admire the views materialising below which were simply magnificent. The snow has started to deepen up to 30cm in depth sometimes deeper where the snow had drifted over the path which forced us to ascend along the edge where the snow was less in depth.

The West, and North Western fells seen from the ascent of Skiddaw.

The cloud starts to break slightly as we reached the summit shoulder.

Skiddaw summit appears into view.
We continued with our ascent and even though we shouldn't have stopped to admire the view David and I couldn't resist while Rod blazed ahead. I'd been keeping an eye out for a familiar stone cairn found on the path just below the shoulder but I must have passed it without realising or, it may have been buried. With Rod breaking away it was left to David and myself to catch him up which we finally did in what felt like a life time of trudging in and out of deep powdery snow, by the time I crested the shoulder my legs were ready for the nice easy stroll towards the summit.

Spectacular views towards Mungrisdale Common, Blencathra, Lonscale Fell and Sale How.

With Clough Head, the Dodds and the Helvellyn range appearing far right.

A close up of Blencathra.
The cloud seemed to linger just over Blencathra's for the duration which is a shame given todays fantastic views.

Skiddaw summit shelter.
Having took in the views over Blencathra we headed towards the summit and found that for just a few moments we had the summit to ourselves (this photo was taken minutes after arriving) By now the windchill had increased to -14.7°C which left exposed skin feeling painful indeed. Soon more walkers started to arrive so we let them have some lone summit time just as we had, this, and we simply had to keep moving!


Descending Skiddaw towards Little Man.
We again had made the summit just in time before more cloud arrived which lingered as we passed the south cairn before descending out of the cloud which hurtled across our field of vision at a rate of knotts.

Lonscale Fell (L) and Skiddaw Little Man (R) seen as the cloud clears.
We were now descending face full into the wind where it was noted the windchill felt more severe than we had experienced even back at the summit.

Ice Art.
That's Skiddaw Little Man behind which is where we're heading next.

More cloud on the horizon for Blencathra.

Not so on the Caldbeck Fells.
Where it looks positively tropical!

Looking back on Skiddaw from the ascent of Little Man.
While in shadow we crossed the col between Skiddaw and Little Man experiencing more deep snow which slowed down our ascent, we were the only walkers ascending Little Man most of whom were travelling in't opposite direction.

Skiddaw Lesser Man, Latrigg, High Rigg, Clough Head, The Dodds and the Helvellyn range from Skiddaw Little Man.
With most walkers having just left the summit we found we had the summit to ourselves so we stopped for a few moments to take in the views over a golden Derwent Water while being buffered high and low by the severe windchill. It was at this point did David take out his weather device again which recorded a rather chilled -16.7°C windchill. Time to move on.

A Winter Wonderland.

Skiddaw Lesser Man.
Lesser Man was soon reached as the brutality of the windchill continued, it was here we were joined by more walkers most of whom were ill-equipped carrying the likes of small pug dogs (we counted three in total) which whimpered in the severe cold, most owners had the sense to realise that they were in to deep and turned back while others had a discreet advisory.


Looking back at Skiddaw Lesser, and Little Man.
As predicted with more height lost the more comfortable the temperature began to feel and soon we started to feel 'normal again' with conversation and joking around resuming.

It's turning out to be a wonderful afternoon in Lakeland.
We continued our descent all the while the temperature appeared to rise causing David to strip of more layers. Many parts of the path were knee deep in soft snow which Rod found to his dismay and our amusement! It was decided that we would keep the crampons on until we completed our descent, the last of which is familiarily steep.

Cloud Head and The Dodds from the Hawell Monument.

Under what felt like a Spring afternoon we arrived at the gate at the bottom of the path and started to de-layer removing our crampons in the process while grabbing a quick sandwich to eat while we walk back to Underscar.

With hats and gloves packed away we pass the Hawell Monument where we stopped to admire Lakeland in its full Winter glory whilst in the distance the sound of childrens screams as they sledge down the slopes of Latrigg accompany our walk back to Underscar.


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