This 16 mile circuit covered 8 Wainwrights and 4,500 ft of ascent starting from the High Row car park. The aim was to pick off some new Wainwrights either end in one circular walk, it took over 8hrs and gives a real feel to the area with views over Thirlmere & Ullswater. Another busy solo summer Sunday, finishing late after all the crowds had descended.
- Distance = 16 miles (25.5 km)
- Duration = 8 hrs 10 mins
- Total Ascent = 4,555ft (1,388m), max height Great Dodd 2,812ft (857 mtrs)
- Start/Finish = High Row Car Park on road to Dowthwaitehead off A5091
- Wainwrights = Clough Head – 2382′, Great Dodd – 2,812′, Watson’s Dodd – 2589′, Stybarrow Dodd – 2766′, Raise – 2,897′, White Side 2,832′, Sheffield Pike – 2,215ft’, Hartside – 2480′
- Date = 25th August 2013, start 11.00am, finish 7.10pm
- Click on Route Map below to zoom in/out
Some hills can become a personal nemesis, toying at your very emotions whilst they glower down with incredulity at your pathetic inability to climb them. One such hill was the innocuous Clough Head, a lumpy thing stuck on the side of bigger things on the south side of the A66. For some reason I’d never been up there before and the bloody thing knew it. Looking all smug and cocky, laughing at me as I drove around the area scaling other more glamorous peaks, such as Great & Little Mell Fell. Long have I lusted for the views from it’s elusive summit and long have I planned it’s conquest. Well at long last today would be the day, today I would have victory on Clough Head.
Sorry about that, I’d been on the red wine. Anyway after turning off the A66 I was soon parking on the roadside at High Row. The car park was heaving which meant today was certainly going to be a busy day. Cloud was down everywhere however the forecast was good with early mist lifting by afternoon. After unwrapping my knee supports & extending my Pacer poles I set off, like an old greyhound.
The track firstly heads westish past the trees then after 3 mins you take the little footbridge over the stream and take the big track right. This is the Old Coach Road, which rounds the high ground before heading west directly for Clough Head. It makes for excellent fairly level walking allowing you to cover a fair distance quickly. Views were mostly erm grey.
The road swings north through the gate above, then over the bridge below. The usual route continues along the Old Coach Rd before leaving it to follow the skyline up over White Pike and on to the top. A couple who had left the car park before me were already on the skyline, however I was doing a shortcut, leaving the road at the bridge for the small stile over the fence on the left.
This takes a direct route up over grassy boggy slopes. There’s no path and I wasn’t too convinced about this route however somehow managed to get on top 5 mins ahead of the couple who were 5 mins ahead 🙂 On the weather front the grey mist hadn’t abated however I was confident of the forecast and certainly confident that as I finally crested the summit of elusive Clough Head the long overdue vista would burst into view.
But it didnt. A walker appeared seconds later with his dog and told me I was the first person he’d seen all day. Then his mate appeared, which kinda disproved his theory. Then the White Pike couple appeared, then another, etc. Nobody stayed long except me, as I still hoped that the cloud would lift any second. Any second at all. Just 2 more minutes. Maybe 2 more. It didn’t lift and I reluctantly had to move on, wandering into the mist leaving the mysteries of that view behind. A clear path heads south to Calfhow Pike which was easy to follow with only a little descent. Alone & shrouded by mist there was a sudden noise behind me, turning round a bloomin runner appeared out of nowhere, scared the crap out of me,
Soon I was up and over Calfhow Pike with the cloud starting to lift at last & the route ahead looking much clearer. Firstly a steady ascent over Little Dodd then up to Great Dodd
There were plenty of people on Great Dodd with hazy views too. My only previous visit was during a snowy white-out with fine eye-stinging horizontal hail. I couldn’t linger that day so walked quickly over the small cairn hardly seeing a thing. Interesting to now discover the substantial summit shelter just a few yards away, now that might’ve been useful 🙂
After quickly refueling on Great Dodd I was off on the track to Watsons Dodd. Nearly missed this in the cloud last time up here as there’s two paths heading south west from Great Dodd, the right one goes out to Watsons Dodd, the left one goes straighter missing it out. There’s a whole lot of Dodds up here so please forgive this, I know it’s very difficult to say but;- Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dog’s Dead. Ok sorry it isn’t really, just try saying it quickly.
From Watsons Dodd you head south west to rejoin the main path which swings up then levels southwards. Bear in mind you have to divert off the path if you want to bag Stybarrow. Luckily I did this last time as I kinda forgot this time and lazily followed the path out to the cairn below.
From here there are options however today’s route dips south down to Sticks Pass then up to Raise. Having done the Dodds & Helvellyn group before, I was missing White Side which sits in the middle so needed to do a quick out & back. Raise is worth the ascent anyway, nice viewpoint.
Catching my breath on top from a quick ascent I noticed a few winged ants crawling around. Had seen a few in the grass when walking up Clough Head earlier and other places, hadn’t noticed them on the hills before. Anyway time to dash out to White Side which looked really busy.
White Side was like a morning in Grasmere village with lots of walkers of all ages criss-crossing in all directions chattering away. Had to wait for a gang of senior walkers to descend out of sight to get the photo above. I’d already praised the good fashion sense of a senior guy in his shorts & knee supports. He was confused till he realised we shared a similar dress code 🙂 I caught them up back on Raise where he announced my arrival to the group and we all had a good chat about worn knees, supports, poles, bad backs, and moving to a bungalow. It was entertaining stuff, however as they were all at least 10yrs older then me I thought I’d better fly down fast to Sticks Pass just to make me feel younger.
Turning off down Sticks Pass leaves the main walkers highway behind, although Sheffield Pike did look a long slog away. As usual these things end up closer and I was soon down in the quarry area where the path diverts south briefly. It then splits at a cairn with another cairn marking where you cross to the grass finding a path heading to Glencoyne. Follow this for a while before turning off to head straight up Sheffield Pike. Once again there were lots of flying ants about, this time all over the place & starting to become annoying. Once at the summit I went to tap the cairn then spotted a huge swam on the rocks and in the air. Just click and zoom in on the pic below.
The buggers seemed everywhere so I moved away to find the excellent viewpoint below. On a less hazy and less ant-infested day this must be a cracking spot.
Managed to find a refueling seat (without ants), then got swarmed by tiny blackfly thingies. I couldnt stay long so nipped back up to the top where 3 lads were standing on the summit being slightly bothered by ants. I suggested they try my spot 🙂 These guys were the last walkers I met today. Time to retrace the route down to the dip then slog up Greenside. Had to be careful where to place my sack for this photo due to yet more flippin flying ants.
Once on top some tiredness set in so it was a relief to see a fairly level easy path across to Hart Side. And I was heading in the right direction, back to the car.
There’s 3 cairns on Hart Side so I touched them all in a manly way before sitting at the one above for the views. The conifer wood next to the car park looked a long way but at least it was downhill; I’d had enough ascent for the day. First you need to walk across to the cairn at Birkett Fell. Nice spot and also totally deserted. I started to think about beer, as you do.
Once the beer thought enters your brain you really want to get down. I looked for the quickest way down to Dowthwaitehead where there’s a bridge across the stream. It’s possible you could go directly down, keeping to the right of the farm but it seemed safer to head more eastwards to meet the path coming down from Glencoyne.
My route came down the left side of a small stream gully, perhaps the right side would be better but either way it eventually meets the path which heads north to the farm & bridge.
Once across the bridge and through the farmyard (6.56pm), it’s about a mile walk back to the High Row car park (7.10pm). I was pretty knackered, it had been warm and those flies had been so annoying, constantly walking through swarms. My spare water was soon poured over my head just to feel cleaner. Luckily my hair is naturally set to rapid dry. Still, shouldn’t complain, after the walk here last time I got back in darkness with frozen boot laces. Would take the flies every time:-)
Drove to the Mill Inn at Mungrisdale for their tasty & good value Pesto Chicken, it was heaving, the only disappointment being the insipid beer.
Another great day in the hills, always nice to visit a few new Wainwrights, I’m slowly ticking them off but hey there’s no rush. Thanks for reading:-)