Outdoor Discoveries

What originally was a news section for the rest of the website soon became a place for me to write about human-powered wanderings in the countryside. Photography inspires me to get out there, mostly on foot these days, though cycling got me started. Musings on the wider context of outdoor activity complete the picture, so I hope that there is something of interest in all that you find here. Thank you for coming!

Drawn to Skiddaw

5th May 2007

While pondering this post following my ascent of Skiddaw yesterday, it occurred that if I tried listing my excursions to Cumbria’s Lake District, I could have ended up with a very long list and I have not even come close to exploring all the area. 2003 was when I spent the most time up there and, in marked contrast, the nearest I came to it was while I was on the way up and down from Scotland!

On my visits, I have been fanning out from the likes of Ambleside, Rydal, Grasmere and Keswick. From Keswick, I have got to Buttermere, up and down the shores of Derwent Water, to Catbells, along Coledale, in the woods on Dodd (the one next to Carl Side; there are a few of them), around the Back o’ Skiddaw… I think that probably covers it; Keswick has made a good starting point for many of my Lakeland excursions. Anyone with any knowledge of the Lake District should not be too surprised if I bundle Ambleside, Rydal and Grasmere together and they have been the starting (and, in some cases, the ending) points of walks over Loughrigg Fell, around the Fairfield horseshoe, to Patterdale via Grisedale and Fairfield… They’re the main ones.

However, given all my treks, it took me until yesterday to mount the summit of Skiddaw; too many other distractions, perhaps? The mountain has featured in numerous photos posted on my Lakeland photo gallery so it was about time that I ascended it. Given the fine weather that we have been enjoying recently and the predicted break in the weather, as is customary for a bank holiday weekend, I decided to take a day off for some walking. For the sake of some variety, I took a break from my Pennine Way objective and returned to Keswick since perhaps 2003.

An early morning train/bus combination got me to Keswick around 10:30. Once there, I organised myself and picked up the Cumbria Way. A useful footbridge got me over the busy A66 and I then rounded Lattrigg before leaving the way after passing through a car park. After passing rounding a 333-metre-high hillock and passing a Celtic cross commemorating two noted breeders of Herdwick sheep, I dropped down a little before commencing the real ascent in earnest. Then, it was a case of taking things slow and steady between 300 and 700 metres before the gradient became more kind. A tempting track was heading for Little Man but I stayed my course for Skiddaw to conserve my energy levels; the actual right of way goes along the northern slopes of Little Man. The actual final ascent of Skiddaw itself wasn’t too hard on the legs, though “steady as she goes” remained the approach. As I went up, views of Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite Lake, Blencathra, Ullock Pike, Little Man and the Back o’ Skiddaw were abundant, though an ominous looking bank was there to see in the north and to the east; it looked like I picked the right place for my day out.

The views remained there to savour as I started on my way down at 14:00. Even after 800+ metres of ascent, I still possessed the energy to allow me to vary my route a little on the descent. The first of these diversions was to pick up a path over Little Man; this one does not appear on the OS Explorer map but Harvey’s Superwalker equivalent does show most of it. I’m glad that I tackled it on the descent as there is a false summit on the eastern approach. The second diversion was to go up and over Lattrigg; I kept seeing the path from on high and got tempted by the proposition. The ascent wasn’t too taxing either, and the views made it worthwhile. Even with these variations, I was back in Keswick at around 17:30 and spent a bit of time strolling through the town and doing a spot of shopping before catching the bus that took me towards my train home.

Skiddaw as seen from Little Man, Keswick, Cumbria, England

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