Skiddaw via Longside Edge

Outline of Route
High Side - Ullock Pike - Long Side - Carl Side - Skiddaw - Bakestall - Whitewater Dash - High Side (Grid ref. NY 237311)
Total Distance 8.5 miles, Total Ascent 3000 feet, Equivalent Distance 14.5 miles

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Escape Routes

  1. None. Before Skiddaw summit go back, after the summit, go on.

Details of Route
When travelling northwards on the A591 from Keswick, there is a road on the right at High Side, signposted to Orthwaite. About 200 yards along this road there is space to park about ten cars. The walk starts from here. Go through the gate on the right just beyond this parking area, and follow the sign reading "Public Bridleway", pointing left across the slope. This leads to the bottom of a row of hawthorns (photo) which run up the slope. Turn right and follow them. Do not be tempted to follow the bridleway to Barkbeth farm, and through it, unless you have a winning way with farm dogs and their owners (How does the writer know? Don't ask!). At the top of the row of hawthorns you will find, to your left, a gate in a wall and a ladder stile. Cross this stile and continue across the next field, the path is broad and clear, to another gate and stile. There is a path along by the wall to another ladder stile up the hill, but this should be ignored. Just cross the stile you've reached and follow the path (photo) as it curves to the right towards Southerndale. This leads to another gate with a rickety stile perched over a steep drop into Southerndale Beck. Negotiate this carefully and you are onto the open fell (photo).

Turn right and follow the wall up the hill. As you come to the brow of the ridge you reach the stile I suggested earlier you should ignore. A notice informs you there is no path on the other side of the wall and points down the way you've come. Presumably the stile is for farm use only. The way is clear now to walk southwards up the well-defined ridge, known as The Edge, to Ullock Pike. Continue along this ridge beyond Ullock Pike (Longside Edge), with its fine views back towards Ullock Pike (photo), down to Bassenthwaite Lake (summer photo) (winter photo) and across to Skiddaw, to Long Side (photo) and on towards Carl Side (photo). The path bypasses the summit of Carl Side but it takes a minimum of effort to visit the top. This opens up the magnificent southern panorama, extending from Clough Head and the rest of the Helvellyn ridge in the southeast, to Grisedale Pike, Hopegill Head and Whiteside in the southwest, and many more in between (photo).

Head northeast for Carlside Col, where there is a fine retrospective view of Longside Edge (photo) and in snow (photo) and follow the clear track beyond up onto Skiddaw. There is a faint path heading for the south top but the clearest is to the left of this and leads to the middle top. From here it's an easy walk north to the main top and its trig. column (photo). The views are fine all round, including Longside Edge (photo), the Helvellyn ridge (photo), but I'd recommend taking the opportunity to have a longer look at the fells to the east, including Great Calva, Knot and Carrock Fell, and their layout (photo). Continue to the north top and then onwards, downhill, to Broad End. Here a fence is reached (photo) which can be followed to Bakestall. Most maps do not name this fell but merely indicate a summit near Dead Crags. Continue beyond the summit to the top of the crags and bear right to follow the top of the crags before descending Birkett Edge and meeting the Skiddaw House road.

Cross the road and make your way to Dash Beck and the top of Dash Falls (a.k.a. Whitewater Dash). With a bit of care various precipitous paths can be followed, alongside the falls, most of the way down. They are a wonderful sight (photo); probably the best set of cascades in the whole of Lakeland. Many would be impressive just on their own (photo). Rejoin the road and continue northwest below the formidable Dead Crags. Further on, Dead Beck, up on the left has its own fine falls, but they suffer in comparison with what we've just seen. When the Orthwaite road is reached turn left and return to High Side. It is well over a mile along the road but fortunately it is quiet; only three cars passed me along here one sunny August afternoon.

At a sharp right hand bend in the road, just before Melbecks, a farm gate gives access to a footpath back to High Side. It is wet, not easy to follow, and is diverted to the high (south) side of Barkbeth farm - the map shows the right of way on the lower side - but it is an accessible alternative to the road.

Rev. 02 September 2014

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