Skiddaw by the north ridge

The north ridge of Skiddaw is broad and predominantly grassy with only a few outcrops of slaty scree. Being neither handy from Keswick nor particularly exciting it offers a less crowded approach to this popular summit. Cars can be parked at the start of the track to Dash Falls or driven up through several gates for about a mile and parked on the grass at NY 261320. Here leave the tarmac and walk southwards up the valley. As soon as you have passed through a gate it is possible to climb directly and very steeply up to Bakestall but it is far easier and more rewarding to continue on the track past Dash Falls, which are quite impressive after rain. Just before reaching a gate above the falls turn up right and follow round the top of Dead Crags to the summit of Bakestall with a small cairn and a splendid view. Another slightly lower cairn lies southwards at the fence corner and from here follow the fence until it veers away left. Carry on up the broad ridge to the top of Skiddaw.

An alternative approach to the north ridge, which is even less frequented, is to park on the Orthwaite road just north of High Side as described for the Ullock Pike approach. Follow the bridleway into Southerndale, cross the stream and follow a green track which seems to be heading up this valley. It veers away eastwards, crosses a grassy ridge and resumes its progress southwards, now in the next valley, Barkbethdale. It swings around the valley and becomes a pleasant narrow track in the heather before emerging on the appropriately named Broad End of the Skiddaw ridge from which point it is still quite a long slog up to the north ridge proper. If coming down this way the start of the track would be quite tricky to locate in misty conditions. It is possible and perhaps pleasanter to walk some of the way along the grassy ridge which separates Southerndale and Barkbethdale but the ascent or descent of Skiddaw from this ridge direct is recommended only to those who enjoy negotiating acres of steep, loose and slippery slates.


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