51. Skiddaw, 20th June, 2015
It was a very unpromising morning as I set off from the Ravenstone Lodge Hotel. Going south you can avoid the road by a path that runs along it, comprising, in its initial stage, the driveway of the rather older and grander Ravenstone Manor Hotel across the road. Immediately after this, there is a signposted bridleway heading very steeply and slipperily straight uphill (yes, bridleway - it would be a very bold equestrian would venture up here on a horse). I came down this way but missed it going up and zigzagged around on forest tracks a bit to reach the path that heads steeply up towards the ridge leading to Ullock Pike. Once I reached the ridge the mist enveloped me and I stayed enveloped for some time. Apart from the weather, it was pretty easy going to the top of Skiddaw. The final scree slope is really not bad. Following the diagonal line that ends on the 928m spot height, there is decent, clear path and it is not too steep. But I was well and truly soaked through by the time I reached the trig point. Thence I (mainly) descended easily but still very soggily past Ullock Pike to Little Man and Lonscale Fell. From there is was a rather dreary pathless trudge down and up to gain the inconveniently situated top of Sail How. The good news was it was now beginning to clear up in earnest and in the process of turning into a glorious afternoon. This was all the better news given the bad news: it’s a long way back from here.
A grassy track took me down to Skiddaw House, where I turned north on the track that leads past Whitewater Dash Falls to Peter House Farm. Sticking to this as far as the farm and finishing the walk down the road would entail an unpleasant final kilometre at the mercy of the traffic on the A591. That may be why the Nuttalls, in their guide, recommend abandoning the track about a mile before the farm and following the left side of the wall enclosing the Skiddaw access land all the way home. This I did and this I really do not recommend you do. It is rough going for a long way that seems longer, up and down, contouring uncomfortably on rough grass and ferns on what for most of the way is the faintest of paths bordering on useless. Glorious views up towards Back o’Skiddaw and across the Lake to the Northwestern Fells made it worthwhile. But if you fancy tackling all 6 Skiddaw Nuttalls in a day, I bet this isn’t the easiest way. Another time, I would do Lower Man and Lonscale Fell last, after picking off Sale How as an out and back detour. It’s about 150m of reascent but at a gentle gradient on a nice grassy track. Then, instead of going home anticlockwise, round Skiddaw, I’d go clockwise either down as far as the car park north of Latrigg then the four mile walk home through Millbeck and along the west flank of Dodd (a path on the east side of the A591 means you can avoid walking on the horrid thing as far as the starting point); or lazier still, just walk down into Keswick and get a bus home.
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