Monday, 14 September 2009

Skiddaw (Circular including Little Man) – (Lake District – Day 4) – (Cumbria) – 09/09/09 – 8.75 Miles – Helen (luther & Molly)

The rain that had featured so heavily on two of our first three days, was now a thing of the past, as we were now able to enjoy three perfect late Summer’s days in succession. For this walk it was back to using the Country Walking Magazine’s ‘cut outs’, with our objective being Skiddaw, which is apparently the fourth highest peak in the Lakes, and only one of four over 3,000ft. However given that we got exceptionally lucky (this day anyway) with the car parking, getting the last and closest space to the start, it turns out we had already climbed 1,000ft before getting out of the car.

So once out of the car the obvious track led us straight up. Helen was in t-shirt mode, whilst I decided to keep my long sleeve top on and then see how things went. This was quite a demanding climb to go straight into, with the pattern of me and Luther (off lead) surging ahead, whilst Helen with Molly (on lead) caught up whenever we stopped to take a photo. This is also an obviously popular part of the Lakes, as there was no shortage of people going in either direction. Unfortunately toilet facilities are non existent on this walk (even at the car park). However the glaciers who designed the whole course, thoughtfully provided a small out of view ledge which is apparently visited very frequently. So after a series of climbs and peaks we eventually reached a gate where we could either: go through and right on an easier traverse up Skiddaw, or alternatively go straight over Little Man. We choose to do the latter, with me in power surge mode at this point leaving my three fellow travellers behind until I had reached this particular summit. This effort making Little Man our second Wainwright of the week at 2,838ft.

The descent down from Little Man was quite steep but for once I felt confident of my footing. Thus having rejoined the path leading up to Skiddaw, I stopped and chatted to another guy (+ dog) whom I had met earlier on the other side by the gate. Helen for her part was taking a break with a cup of coffee, before catching up. Given that we were now closing in on 3,000ft it was getting noticeably colder, with Helen putting her grey fleece thing back on, and me putting on my body warmer. However the distance from the foot of Little Man to the summit of Skiddaw is next to nothing, and with no great extra effort we were there making Skiddaw our third Wainwright of the week at 3,053ft.

After a nice man took a family photo for us, we managed to find a set of rocks to shelter behind and have lunch, eventually being moved on by a couple under a pretext of what is the best way to train their puppies. I was in full ‘follow me I have the cut out’ mode for the way back down. Not for the first time however I had misunderstood what I was reading, and Helen had to point out we were merely going back the way we came, rather than following the route suggested by the ‘cut out’. This then required a 45 degree about turn to rendevous with the path we were supposed to be on, and across the sort of marshy and spongy ground we had gone through on the Monday. So yes you guessed it, my boots and socks were once again soaking wet. Also once on the path it was a downwards and muddy trajectory, leaving me slipping all over the place, whilst Helen and doggies surged on far ahead. One benefit however, was apart from a few walkers, the majority of the Skiddawites, seemed to know nothing of this path and so this allowed Molly a chance to get off the lead a bit more.

Having eventually reached Skiddaw House Youth Hostel (which must be great fun lugging all your baggage to) we were able to turn right and pick up the Cumbria Way. At this point I suggested Helen take my picture, only for her to throw my camera down on the ground in a fit of temper (just checking your reading this sweetie). Anyway the lens was bent over and wouldn’t go back in. However a bit of force from me straightened the thing up, but don’t you know the camera has never been the same since. No problem though as Helen promised me on the spot to buy a new one (a Leica will do nicely).
By following the Cumbria Way we eventually found ourselves walking along a ridge with Lonscale Fell on our right and stunning views over Glenderaterra Beck on the drop over our left. This section of the walk was probably close to three miles, and as we eventually began a descent, Helen was able to hear the whistle of a shepherdess working her sheep and dogs well over a mile away in the distance. Eventually we came to a little stream with Helen faffing about trying to take a picture of a waterfall. Given the irreparable damage she had caused my camera earlier I decided to take the picture for her, only to once again fall over backwards standing on a wet stone. Thankfully my lunch box in my backpack was able to take the full impact leaving me thankfully unscathed. From there it was a short walk back to the car, which to our relief had not been clamped or anything similar for blocking the turning circle out of a nearbye gate. Finally to round the day off on our drive back to the cottage, Helen took me to see the Bowder Stone rock in Keswick.


  1. You can stay at Skiddaw House - look at:

    or you might like to become a Friend of SH.

    Carl Bendelow

  2. Thanks for the info. and I have just had a look at the website.

    Do you have residents making extended stays there (say a week) or are most people coming through for a single night on the Cumbria Way ?