Skiddaw via Ullock Pike Ridge

13 02 2015

My most regular Lake District walk, and one of my favourites, is this round of Skiddaw…

Overwater to Skiddaw

click on photos for full size/resolution
I always park at Peterhouse Farm on the Orthwaite back-road – there’s an honesty box there so I usually drop in one or two quid depending on how much I have in the car at the time. From there, I head off downhill on the lane for about quarter of a mile to where a footpath takes off left along a track at the first bend in the road.

The track heads towards a small woodland and passes through it crossing a shallow ford under the trees. It then continues across a couple of fields and drops down to a bridge over the river coming out from Southerndale. Immediately after crossing the bridge, the path zig-zags right and then left just before the fence to the farm. The fenceline is followed to a stile into a lane coming down from another farm – turn right uphill here.

After crossing another stile, turn immediately left onto another track heading away from the farm and towards the hills. Don’t, however, continue to follow this track all the way to another river crossing – when you get to a dip in the fields on your right in a hundred yards or so, turn right and head across the dip to pick up another track heading towards the hills.

This path soon crosses another stile by a gate and follows the beckside up Southerndale for about another quarter of a mile…

Southerndale Track

There is then a split in the track where the left branch goes to cross the beck – ignore this and take the right-hand fork which rakes gently uphill through bilberries to a col on the ridge on your right. In bilberry-season, this section takes me a very long time indeed! ๐Ÿ˜‰

On reaching the ridge at the col lying between the interesting rocky area of ‘Watches’ and the start of the Ullock Pike ridge, turn left up the ridge. It is then a steep climb up to Ullock Pike which rises in steep sections with small flat bits to get your breath back. There are great views from the climb however…

Bassenthwaite from Above

Ullock Pike summit isn’t quite the pyramid you’re looking at during the ascent, it’s just behind the part you can see. As you reach the pyramid though, a great view along the ridge appears…

Ullock Pike - final stages

After a short descent from Ullock Pike, you follow the ridge easily along Longside Edge…

Longside Edge & Head of Southerndale

After Longside Edge, the main path forks left to bypass poor ol’ Carlside – I like to include it unless I’m short of time which means taking the lesser path straight on up the grass…

Approach to Carlside from Longside

It’s a longer walk to Carlside summit than it looks. When you reach the cairn, you turn hard left to descend to Carlside col where there is a little tarn beloved of Skiddaw’s sheep…

Carlside Col Tarn

From here, you have the most strenuous part of the day – it is this bit which makes me say that Skiddaw is the hardest exercise in the whole of the Lakes – 700 foot of steep, convex scree-slope. There are two routes up this, the obvious track heading left of the cone on the photo – I personally never take this route, preferring the old zig-zag which goes straight up from the col. Just after the bend to the left in the main track and soon after leaving the col, you’ll see a large boulder on your right. The sketchy path starts off from here – it’s easy to follow once you’re on it.

Skiddaw - 700foot Scree Cone

Unfortunately, higher up the zig-zags are getting destroyed by mountain bikers who have started using this route but ignoring all the zig-zags ๐Ÿ˜ฆ There used to be 27 short zig-zags, now there are about 5 longer ones which make the ascent seem much more arduous. Looking back gives a nice view of the Longside Edge though…

Longside Edge from Skiddaw Ascent

After a long and determined slog, the half-mile summit ridge is reached. I always traverse the whole ridge right along to the North Summit – it seems a shame to give up part-way along at the main summit and it’s a nice view down the end…

Skiddaw summit

It probably isn’t a great idea to have a break anywhere on the summit ridge – it is one of the coldest places in Britain no matter how nice the day! Return from the North Summit back along the ridge and continue down the end. The main track, after descending from the South Summit, bypasses the lovely peak of Little Man – I never do! There is a good track takes off around the fence for the shapely peak…

Skiddaw Little Man Approach

Carlside Col & Skiddaw
Looking back there’s a good view of Carlside col with Longside Edge poking over

Skiddaw Little Man is a 2900+ foot satellite of Skiddaw and has it’s own little sub-peak which Wainwright called Skiddaw Lesser Man – the path descends over this.

Dodds Ridge from Little Man
Good views to St. Johns-in-the-Vale and the Helvellyns

Skiddaw Little Man Tarn

Lesser Man has a much better cairn made very artistic by the addition of iron fence posts – the configuration changes from year to year…

Skiddaw Lower Man Ornate Cairn

Skiddaw Lesser Man Cairn looking to Blencathra (above) and back to Little Man (below)

Skiddaw Little Man from Lower Man's Ornate Cairn

There is a very steep and loose descent from Lower man which is far better on hard snow in crampons. Much care has to be taken down here or you’ll end up on your bum! From the foot of the loose slope, you rejoin the main track just long enough to clamber over the stile. You then leave the main track again and follow the fenceline (either side but I prefer the right-hand side) and follow grassy tracks along the gentle ridge to Lonscale Fell. The descent is very long on lovely springy ground and I invariably run the whole way to the next col – probably a mile or so – great fun. There are a couple of lovely tarns en-route…

Lonscale Fell Tarn

After the col, there is a short, easy ascent to Lonscale Fell. Looking back gives nice views of Skiddaw Little Man with Skiddaw behind…

Skiddaws from Lonscale Fell

Lonscale Fell’s main summit is of little interest so head off towards the sharp-looking peak to your left – Lonscale Pike itself. There are steep drops off both sides of the peak with some superb views. Looking right from the peak are further views of St. Johns and Helvellyn.

St Johns from Lonscale Fell Crags

If you look left from the pike, you’ll see the wonderful but strangely-named low ridge of Burnt Horse…

Burnt Horse from Lonscale Crags

Head off left along a small path above the crags until you feel up to descending the steep slope to Burnt Horse. I usually go down the grassy gill half-way to the fence but there is a steep path of sorts following the fence down.

Burnt Horse from Above

Once on the col below, head along Burnt Horse – a superbly undulating heather ridge…

Burnt Horse

Looking back from the ridge there are superb views of Lonscale Crags and your descent…

Lonscale Crags from Burnt Horse Ridge1

Lonscale Fell from End of Burnt Horse

A path descends the long ridge to meet the path coming from the Lonscale Gap – take this path left through a gate in the fence. This track then heads past Skiddaw House – the second-most remote Lake District Youth Hostel – now a privately-owned hostel rather than YHA. The superb track continues for a few miles through the valley at the back of Skiddaw towards Dash Falls. This is a lovely remote valley and I always enjoy the solitude through here…

Skiddaw House Track - Evening
Looking back to Lonscale Crags – Skiddaw House is in the trees to the left

The Dash Falls aren’t very visible from the descent unfortunately, but turning round when you reach the flat section of the track gives you a distant view of them…

Dash Falls

There is a nicely-situated farm across the valley and the start of the Northern Fells aka “Back O’ Skidda”…

Across Dash Beck from Dash Falls Track

Farm Across from Dash Falls Track

A lot of people park on the common hereabouts as a gated road runs across it – I always think it’s probably a private road though as it must surely belong to the farm. My Mum and me parked there once but we felt terribly guilty so I’d only now use it if the two Peterhouse Farm carparks were full…

Great Cockup from Dash Beck Track

Bakestall Steep Route

Looking back at the ‘steep route’ up Bakestall – most people go up the Dash Falls track and follow the fence up from the top of the falls instead

Brockle Crags
Brockle Crags under Great Cockup

Ullock Pike Ridge (evening)
The Ullock Pike-Longside Ridge from the Peterhouse Track

One of the best things about this round is that you can cut it short in several places. Obviously you can miss out Carlside or Skiddaw Little Man – I wouldn’t advise the latter personally. Also, you can descend either from the North Summit of Skiddaw over Bakestall straight to Dash Falls – a nice route for a shorter day. Or you can descend to Skiddaw House from the fenceline below the south end of the main ridge down a lovely grassy ridge. Incidentally, this is the long, grassy ridge I fully intend to sledge one winter ๐Ÿ™‚

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29 responses

17 02 2015
McEff

Thatโ€™s a great walk, Carol. The last time I did Skiddaw I followed the same route exactly โ€“ down as well, though you had better weather. The Ullock Pike route is by far the best way to climb Skiddaw, I think.
Good to know about the parking at Peterhouse Farm. Getting parked is always a struggle in that area. Last time I was there I left the car on that first corner, and it was as muddy as hell.
Cheers, Alen

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19 02 2015
mountaincoward

Yeah, there’s two carparks now at Peterhouse – probably room for about 10 or 12 cars in total. Even those can be a bit muddy though…

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15 02 2015
underswansea

Sounds like a wonderful hike. I really like your photos. Did you take them all on film? I can sympathize with Richard. Lisa is always saying she is going to take me out behind the woodpile and put one behind my ear!

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19 02 2015
mountaincoward

They’re all film photos, yes. It’s not often I take my digi-camera anywhere although I sometimes grab Richard’s digi-camera if I haven’t remembered or bothered to bring my film SLR (bad weather days etc).

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19 02 2015
underswansea

Well they sure are nice photos!

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14 02 2015
chrissiedixie

I remember doing that route up Skiddaw – but a different descent – many years ago when we had two other dogs; Cleo the Boxer and Ragga the Border Collie. It was an absolutely great day out. ๐Ÿ™‚

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14 02 2015
mountaincoward

Didn’t know you used to have a border collie as well… I’ve only ever had a cat and a goldfish!
Carol.

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14 02 2015
discoverywalking

Looks like you enjoyed good weather too – great to get out and about after a long winter. I too sympathise with the knees – I had to stop doing our more extreme mountain research after tearing the same cruciate ligament for the third time. Bring on the bionic body!

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14 02 2015
mountaincoward

A lot of walkers seem to get knee problems – mine have held up well so far and I’m late 50s now. That walk was last summer by the way but I’m just off up to the Lakes again soon ๐Ÿ™‚
Carol.

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14 02 2015
stravaigerjohn

Such lovely pix

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14 02 2015
mountaincoward

Thanks John – was such a lovely day ๐Ÿ™‚

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14 02 2015
bob

There’s so many great peaks in the Lake District crammed into a small area it is unique in Britain. A fine mountain. Arthritis is a bugger. I,m starting to get it in my wrists now but Ibuprofen 400mg tablets help. I know a few folk who use the wrist and ankle magnets and say they work even though there’s no medical evidence to back that up.

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14 02 2015
mountaincoward

I suppose the magnetic bracelets are worth a try and can’t do any harm. My Dad gets arthritis in his hands and I think I might go the same way. His hands used to cramp up badly and it was to do with the arthritis – my hands also cramp very badly – mainly when the skin is dry and I’ve been using washing up liquid (fairly rare!) ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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13 02 2015
fedup

One of my favourites ๐Ÿ™‚ these are my ‘default’ hills if its crap weather or I can’t be bothered travelling far. I usually park just past High Side coming over Watches to get onto The Edge returning either straight down Broad End or by contouring from Cockup to Barkbethdale. The sloping path from Carlside Col I believe gets a lot more mountain bike traffic than the original zig zag track and in places has widened considerably in the last few years; I don’t suppose it will be long before the park authority start clamping down!

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13 02 2015
mountaincoward

I wouldn’t fancy cycling the slanting path – there’s a craggy bit near the top and you’re on the side of the scree cone! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Mind you, I wouldn’t cycle down a mountain at all – I stick to landrover-type tracks…

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13 02 2015
drt1965

That’s not the sort of encouragement I was hoping for! ๐Ÿ˜†

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13 02 2015
mountaincoward

A bullet’s a great cure for a lot of things ๐Ÿ˜‰

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13 02 2015
drt1965

If it all gets too much I’ve got your number and will give you a call ๐Ÿ˜‰

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13 02 2015
mountaincoward

Might hurt a bit – I’ve only got air pistols!

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13 02 2015
smackedpentax

Looks like you had a good day judging by the superb photos. I did this with a friend 3 or 4 years ago in heavy rain (funny, the forecast said ‘a bit of cloud’ – or something similar). Anyway, about all I remember about it is looking down at my feet through a sodden hood. Looks like I’ll have to give it another go next time I am in the Lakes.

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13 02 2015
mountaincoward

Awww what a waste that would be seeing nothing. Definitely give it another go next time the weather’s nice. If you get a day like I got you just can’t beat that route – a real feeling of freedom and great ridge-walking, especially to the Lonscale end ๐Ÿ™‚

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13 02 2015
smackedpentax

Definitely will give it a go – I have Fairfield and High Street planned this year so if I can fit it in I will (weather permitting) ๐Ÿ˜‰

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13 02 2015
mountaincoward

I’m up near Fairfield very soon ๐Ÿ™‚ Don’t think we’re doing that this time though unless there’s lots of snow on it. We might go and get Lingmoor for Richard and then I’m going after some ‘Outlying Wainwrights’ around Staveley.

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13 02 2015
mbc1955

I love the Long Side ridge. I always feel that it’s too short, and that properly, after reaching Long Side from Ullock Pike, I should go back and walk it again.

Another alternative return is from North Top to Bakestall via Broad Stand, but then turn inwards, capturing the little foothill of Carrick before following the intake wall across the mouth of Barkbethdale to Southerndale again. Solitude on Skiddaw, who’d have thought it?

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13 02 2015
mountaincoward

You’re welcome to walk Long Side as often as you want ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know what you mean…

I’ve also done the Barkbethdale/Southerndale route you mention and love that too. I found the Randals Crag one a bit stiff though,
Carol.

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13 02 2015
drt1965

I remember walking this with you Carol – my first walk in the Lakes ๐Ÿ™‚

I managed to bag 100 Wainwrights before my knees gave in and I’m now looking at replacements. Hopefully back on the hills next year!

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13 02 2015
mountaincoward

Sorry to hear about your knees – I remember you were fair going at the Wainwrighting, sometimes doing 3 separate walks in a day! Are you getting those new knee replacements where they tailor them specifically for them and print them out on a 3D printer? ๐Ÿ™‚

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13 02 2015
drt1965

Not sure what I’m getting, but at the moment I have almost no meniscus and lots of arthritis on the inside of both knees – bone on bone ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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13 02 2015
mountaincoward

Very painful! Richard’s getting very bad arthritis in his hip now ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I keep saying I’m going to have him shot!

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