Skid­daw Route 3

You’ll avoid the crowds – and ex­plore some wild moor­land – if you climb Skid­daw from the back door, rec­om­mends Roger But­ler.

Trail (UK) - - CONTENTS -

Bask in north­ern Lakes tran­quil­ity

Skid­daw al­most tum­bles into the streets of Keswick, and so it’s not sur­pris­ing that many head straight out of town to climb its grace­ful but mus­cu­lar slopes. The clas­sic ‘tourist path’ as­cends over dumpy La­trigg be­fore ris­ing steeply to Lit­tle Man and then swing­ing north to the high, stony sum­mit.

This is a pop­u­lar route, but a longer and more sat­is­fy­ing walk ap­proaches the moun­tain from its back door. Damp wood­land leads the way to the great gulch of Glen­der­aterra Beck, which cuts be­tween Blen­cathra and Lons­dale Fell and leads north to­wards a huge bowl of moor­land and the source of the River Caldew. This empty quar­ter is of­ten re­ferred to as the ‘Back o’Skid­daw’ and its re­mote hos­tel, half shel­tered by a wind-blown plan­ta­tion, is of­ten said to be the loneli­est house in Eng­land.

Plonk your­self down in the heather and al­low your­self half an hour to sit back and doze – it’s un­likely any­one will dis­turb you. From here, an in­vig­o­rat­ing climb over soft, spongy slopes is an en­joy­able way to reach the top of Skid­daw. Make sure you pause to take in the buz­zard’s-eye view that stretches to the North Pen­nines and sweeps over to the bor­der coun­try once known as the ‘De­bat­able Lands’.

From the sum­mit there’s no es­cap­ing the main path back down into Keswick. But by now it should be much qui­eter, and the sink­ing sun will send flares of light across the shad­ows on Der­went Wa­ter. Keep go­ing, down past La­trigg, and leave the moun­tain by its front door next to the bab­bling River Greta.

Look­ing north from near Keswick to Lit­tle Man, with the grey slopes of Skid­daw be­yond.

Car­rock Fell in the dis­tance. Skid­daw House Hos­tel is lo­cated by the iso­lated plan­ta­tion.

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