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All the Walking Routes up Skiddaw

By Dave Roberts   

on June 18, 2018    5/5 (9)

All the Walking Routes up Skiddaw

Facts and Figures about Skiddaw

Skiddaw Facts: 
  • Skiddaw is the 3rd tallest mountain in England and the Lake District.
  • Skiddaw is the first mountain on the Bob Graham Round challenge.
  • The highest YHA hostel in the UK  is found at Skiddaw House  ideally situated for an approach to Skiddaw.


Where is Skiddaw?

Skiddaw is found in the Northern Fells in the Lake District, to the north of Keswick.

How High is Skiddaw in metres / feet?
931m high
How long will it take to walk up Skiddaw ?

A fit walker could easily make it up the Jenkin Hill Path in a couple of hours.

How Far is it to the top of Skiddaw? 

The shortest route is the direct route from Millbeck at only 3.7km, while some of the other approaches are over 10km.

How hard is it to climb Skiddaw 

If you take the Jenkin Hill Path then it’s one of the least technical Munro height mountains to climb, especially if you ‘cheat’ and start at the higher car park at Gale Road.

What’s the best walking route up Skiddaw?

The Longside Edge ridge is what we’d regard as the best route – as it was Wainwright’s recommended route.

Which is the easiest walking route up Skiddaw ?

The easiest route is via Jenkin Hill.

Map showing all the routes up Skiddaw

View the full route map

All the Walking Routes up Skiddaw Introduction

The mountain of Skiddaw in the Lake District Northern Fells stands at the magical 931m height, making it the 3rd tallest* mountain in the Lake District National Park and England, and also classed as one of the Furth Munros. It’s often noted as being a relatively easy mountain to climb as it has a good path to the summit and Skiddaw isn’t as rugged as some of the other high mountains such as Scafell Pike and Helvellyn.

Why is it called Skiddaw? Originally written as Skythowe (in various spellings), the origins of the second part of the word is probably hill. The meaning of skidd is more obscure.  One theory is that it’s Norse for Hill of the Jutting Rock, a description that ill fits this mountain but one that’s often accepted. Other suggestions include Archer Hill  and the Hill Where Firewood Is Found.There’s another theory that its named after the old norse skitr – which is dung or s**t – not the most salubrious name for any mountain! There’s also suspicion that the name could even be Cumbric in origin. Just be sure to pronounce it Skidda – without the ‘w’.

*3rd tallest by counting the mountains with at least 150m prominence (that is the Marilyns).

Here are all the walks up Skiddaw on Mud and Routes

Skiddaw via The Jenkin Hill Path

Height Gained – 900 metres (650m from Gale Road Car Park),  Distance – 8.7 km (or 5km from Gale Road car Park), Time –3.5 hours (2.5 hours from Gale Road Car Park).

The Jenkin Hill Path is the most popular path up Skiddaw. Like most straightforward routes up popular mountains it was originally used to cart the Victorians up on ponies. Those Victorians loved a view, but didn’t want to break a sweat over it. It’s a wide and steady plod that can be started from Keswick, or from the Gale Road car park higher up that reduces the distance significantly as noted in the stats above.

The track is wide and easy enough to follow, with a easy gradient. Beware that it is a reasonably long and arduous ascent from Keswick, with the round trip being around 16km.

Skiddaw via Sale How From Skiddaw House Hostel

Height Gained – 970 metres,  Distance – 12.8 km, Time –4 hours.

This approach via Sale How can be tackled from Keswick, as described in the linked route, with the route passing the Skiddaw House YHA. The Skiddaw House hostel is a remote bunkhouse with no mains electricity, ideally suited for those looking for a remote place to stay before tackling Skiddaw. The route sets off along the flanks of Lonscale Fell before following the Cumbrian Way along Glenderaterra Beck as far as Skiddaw House. It’s a quiet route then up via the grassy ridge of Sale How to the summit of Skiddaw.

All the Walking Routes up Skiddaw

Skiddaw via Longside Edge and Ullock Pike from Bassenthwaite

Height Gained – 810 metres,  Distance – 5.5 km, Time –2.5 hours.

From Bassenthwate, there are a number of routes to the summit of Skiddaw which initially share the same path before splitting. These include the quiet route up the valley of Southerndale, or a quieter approach via Randel Crags. However, the best route by far has to be via the shapely ridge of Longside Edge. This was Wainwright’s recommended route up Skiddaw, so that’s as much endorsement as you need! The route takes you over Ullock Pike, Longside Edge and over Carl Side before a workmanlike pull up to the summit.

Skiddaw via Birkett Edge and Bakestall

Height Gained – 820 metres,  Distance – 8 km, Time –3.5 hours.

Another route from Basenthewaite is via Birkett Edge and Bakestall, approaching Skiddaw from the north along long and grassy slopes. The walk sets off initially along the Cumbrian Way, taking you into the remote Northern Fells and can also be ascended from High Side via the slopes of Broad End This probably makes a better descent, combined with an ascent via Longside Edge to form a satisfying circular walk.

All the Walking Routes up Skiddaw

Skiddaw via Carl Side from Applethwaite or Millbeck

Height Gained – 820 metres,  Distance – 3.7 km, Time –2 hours.

skiddaw from millbeck

This is the shortest and most direct route up Skiddaw, and as it tackles the steep southern slopes is also the steepest. The ascent starts from Applethwaite or Millbeck, just outside Keswick, and follows the Allerdale Ramble up to Carl Side and on to the summit of Skiddaw. You can also start the route from Dood Wood car park and join the walk below at White Stones, adding just under a kilometre to the walk.

All the Walking Routes up Skiddaw

Local Information and Recommended Maps and Guidebooks

Recommended Maps

Skiddaw Guidebooks:

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Dave Roberts

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