Western Walks – Skiddaw
Ascent: 3,300 feet
Distance: 7.4 miles
Moderate to strenuous
Skiddaw is not as rugged as some other Lake District peaks but it retains some very special qualities.
Set apart from its neighbours it has unrestricted views from its summit and the view over the south side is arguably the best in the county. Across the Vale of Derwent the peaks of the eastern, central, southern and western fells are laid out in a magnificent panorama.
There are a multitude of ways for walkers to climb Skiddaw and the most popular is the Jenkin Hill Path. It was established as a pony route for Victorian tourists and is an excellent path for beginners looking to push themselves for higher peaks.
It’s even better if you start at Latrigg car park because the drive has already put a good few feet of ascent below you. Follow the signs from the A66 to Underscar and then along the narrow road until you reach the car park.
Once on foot it’s a simple case of following the fenced bridleway northeast and then northwards. The path is well marked and you will not lose your way.
Take the left branch past the Hawell Monument and climb the zig-zag path up the steep fellside towards Jenkin Hill. It can be quite steep but the bridleway eases considerably as you ascend. At the gate you have the option to either pass through or turn west then northwest and make the short diversion to Little Man, which is recommended.
If you opt for Little Man head over its summit and then rejoin the bridleway. If you opt to ignore Little Man continue on the bridleway as it skirts the northeast side. Pass through a gate and head up a final climb onto the summit.
This whole climb is straightforward and somewhat strenuous but once on the summit, 360-degree views are on offer.
However, those looking for a wilder route may be inclined to tackle the path along Ullock Pike, Long Side, Carl Side before making the ascent to Skiddaw.
Park in one of the roadside spaces on the A591 just before the Ravenstone Manor Hotel and join the path through the woods beside the hotel. It’s a steady ascent up the lower flanks of Ullock Pike and onto the start of a long ridge which leads up to Carl Side.
Continue along Longside Edge to the summit of Long Side which is hardly noticeable as a separate fell and then carry on to the grassy summit of Carl Side after a very easy climb.
From here you can descend via Dodd and Thornthwaite Forest and relax at the Old Sawmill tearoom at the bottom. Or turn left an make the ascent of Skiddaw.
Set off along the slanting path up the scree slopes, which looks impossible to climb when seen from a distance but which is quite easy for most of the way. However, the final section is unremittingly steep and involves significant huff and puff factor.
Once on the ridge things become considerably easier and the summit of Skiddaw beckons. You should make the quick there and back detour to enjoy the superlative views from the south end. Then retrace your steps and continue to Skiddaw Man, the true summit.
When you’re ready to descend, head north and the Solway Firth and Scotland are clearly seen ahead of you most of the way down.
Continue towards Bakestall and then veer off east down into Barkbethdale. It feels very remote but the route to Barkbeth Gill is relatively easy. Follow the path around Watches where you will rejoin your original ascent and retrace your steps back to the start.
Whether you take the easier option or decide to spice your life up everyone should tackle the summit of Skiddaw at least once for the magnificent views it affords.
This walk is suggested by Andrew Locking who is a keen local fell walker. For more information on his walks visit www.andrewswalks.co.uk.
Photos by Andrew Locking