Skiddaw via Ullock Pike and Longside Edge
This is the best route to the summit of Skiddaw – a worthy way to climb one of England’s highest peaks.
|13.7 km||1004 m||5 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Start and Finish: High Side House NY 23606 30998
The steep path up Skiddaw from Carlside Tarn can be very slippery so care needs to be taken on this section.
Public Transport: Traveline for UK Public Transport
Parking and Post Code for Sat Nav (where applicable): CA12 4QY
Layby close to High Side House NY 23606 30998
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Skiddaw via Ullock Pike and Longside Edge Route Map and GPX Download
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Skiddaw via Ullock Pike and Longside Edge Details
Despite not having the towering crags of its 3,000ft brothers, Skiddaw makes up for this deficiency by being fantastically and consistently steep, rising from the valley floor to a height of over 900m in 3 short kilometres. That makes for an approximate gradient of 30% – steep indeed.
While most may end up climbing Skiddaw from Keswick or the Gale Lane car park to the south, this approach from the northwest is by far the best way to the summit and, despite this, is far less trodden than those previously mentioned. So, what makes it so good?
In addition to climbing one of England’s highest peaks, you will be treated to sublime views, an airy ridge, steep scree, some of the northern fells only crags and a hidden waterfall. What more could you ask for?
Skiddaw via Ullock Pike and Longside Edge Route Description
1 – For this circuit, the best spot to park is in a layby located on the minor road to Orthwaite with room for a few cars (NY 23606 30998). Arrive early to avoid disappointment. Head north east along the road where a path is signposted through a field gate. Pass through the gate into the fields.
2 – Follow the farm track alongside the field boundary then bear left to cross two drystone walls. Once through the second wall (NY 24041 30934), turn south and make your way to a junction. Take the path forking right to begin first climb of the day which leads to the oddly named summit of Watches, with its satisfying elevation of 333m.
3 – From Watches, the path undulates along the ridge to Ling How where it steepens briefly before continuing on its way. This pattern of steep and flat is repeated a couple of times until you reach The Edge where the pointed Ullock Pike looms overhead.
4 – Here the path becomes pretty steep as it climbs Ullock Pike – hands may be required in the odd location. The steepness finally gives way at the summit of Ullock Pike, the first significant named peak of the walk. Presented ahead is the fine Long Side ridge and one of the most expansive views in the entire Lake District stretching from Helvellyn over Borrowdale and the Scafells and the entirety of the north western fells.
5 – The path continues easily over the ridge of Longside before descending to a shallow depression. Here you can opt to make a 50m climb to the summit of climb Carl Side or skirt around the base to reach the other side. Either way, you’ll end up Carlside Tarn, at the foot of one of the steepest paths in the Lake District.
6 – The path from Carlside Tarn cuts up across the loose slopes of Skiddaw, climbing 200m to reach Skiddaw’s main ridge. This where the main hazard lies as the path can be slippery, especially when wet and is generally pretty loose at the best of times. It may be of note that there has been no path engineering here or eroded steps to help to climb.
7 – You will eventually reach the main Skiddaw ridge, which runs in a north-south direction. The ridge actually has four tops, the highest (Skiddaw Man) being located towards the northern end. The summit is marked by an OS trig pillar which is accompanied by a toposcope and a sizeable shelter.
8 – You’ll probably have the remainder of this walk to yourself – continue north along Skiddaw’s ridge which then drops 100m to a flat area called Broad End. You will notice a wire fence arriving on the right hand side.
9 – Follow the fence as it turns right (next to a small cairn) and make a direct descent of the hillside – some 200m of it with the fence on your right hand side. Sticking to the fence will lead you to the summit of Bakestall – a rare gathering of crags in the northern fells.
10 – Keeping the fence on your right still, continue downhill to meet the Cumbria Way, a well surfaced track which crosses the Lake District, at Black Nettle Hause. Turn left onto the Cumbria Way. Keep an eye over your shoulder for the emerging Whitewater Dash – a superb waterfall which, if it was located in a more fashionable area of the national park, would be a popular tourist attraction.
11 – Follow the Cumbria Way as it makes some wide turns down the hillside below the crags of Bakestall and leads to the road at Peter House Farm. Turn left on to the road and follow it a short distance. Where the road turns at a right angle to the right, leave it by following the signposted footpath to the left and then immediately right.
12 – The final leg passes through and around a couple of small farms as the path makes its way south west back to the layby.