Skiddaw by the Ullock Pike ridge

The Ullock Pike ridge is undoubtedly the finest approach to Skiddaw and although not as narrow and dramatic as Striding Edge on Helvellyn nor as perilous as Sharp Edge on Blencathra it still offers the discerning walker a superb airy traverse with glorious views

There are three possible starting points. The shortest route starts from the Ravenstone Hotel and climbs steeply through the forest to the open fell. This route is ideal for those travelling by bus who can alight at the hotel and subsequently return to Keswick by the tourist path. Parking here is very limited however so motorists should use one of the other approaches. Excellent parking is to be found in Dodd Wood with a cafe available in season. The snag to this route is that this car park, which is also the official car park for Mirehouse, is closed before sunset in the summer. Follow the blue marked posts northwards to a sharp hairpin. Here carry straight on northwards on an unmarked but very pleasant path with glimpses down onto Bassenthwaite Lake. At a fork go upwards right. The path becomes very narrow. Shortly after it drops down onto a wider track look for the gate up on your right which gives access to the open fell and soon joins the steep path coming up from the Ravenstone Hotel. Swing progressively right onto the ridge.

The third alternative which I have marked as the main route on the map sets out on the bridleway which starts a short distance along the Orthwaite road where there is parking for a few cars. Fork right alongside a line of trees and follow the waymarked footpath to the open fell. Here swing up right onto the ridge at a place called Watches, marked by a few scattered stones. From here there is a slight dip in the ridge where the other two routes join in.

Climb steeply with a few rocky bits to Ullock Pike summit. Although this is not the highest summit on the ridge the moment of arrival here is one of particular satisfaction as the magnificent view southwards across the Vale of Keswick is suddenly revealed. This view remains with you now along the narrow ridge which rises to a small cairn marking the summit of Long Side and then drops to a broader col with the marginally higher Carl Side. Here generations of walkers with their eyes on Skiddaw have worn a clear contouring path while the way to Carl Side summit appears virtually untrodden. Although it reveals just a slightly different angle on the same magnificent view it seems a pity to leave it out, so make this easy diversion and step a few yards beyond the summit cairn to enjoy this panorama at its best.

Now turn back east and drop to the broad col with Skiddaw. The slopes of the parent mountain rise forbiddingly steeply ahead. The scree, which is composed of the eponymous Skiddaw slate, is black and slippery but a path has been worn through it, slanting leftwards up the slope and emerging on a small intermediate bump between the south top, which is the one seen from Keswick, and the true summit which has a trig point, a viewfinder and a small stone shelter, effective only when the wind is blowing from the west.


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