Route: Ullock Pike, Long Side, Carl Side and Skiddaw

Area: Northern Lake District

Date of walk: 9th January 2019

Walkers: Andrew 

Distance: 7.4 miles

Ascent: 3,300 feet

Weather: Sunny, bitterly cold at times

I’d had to abort a walk up Ullock Pike last month, after getting blown off my feet by gale force winds. Today was a sunny day with light winds, and it was time for another attempt. I hadn’t decided at this stage whether to include Skiddaw in the round, and would wait until reaching Carl Side before making my choice

I parked in one of the roadside spaces on the A591, just before the Ravenstone Manor Hotel, and joined a path through the woods beside the hotel. A steady ascent up the lower flanks of Ullock Pike brought me onto The Edge, the start of a long ridge which leads up to Carl Side. A bitterly cold wind from the east made the wind chill factor several degrees below zero, and I was grateful for all five layers of top clothing I was wearing. Ullock Pike obscured the sun until I reached its summit after a steepish rocky climb at the end. The views from here were good, but better was to come

I continued along Longside Edge to the summit of Long Side, which is hardly noticeable as a separate fell, and then carried on to the wide grassy summit of Carl Side which is reached after a very easy climb. There are wonderful views into lakeland from here although, as Wainwright remarks, ‘unfortunately too much of the summit plateau appears in the scene’. At this point it was decision time – I could simply descend from Carl Side via Dodd and Thornthwaite Forest, or I could take advantage of the conditions and ascend Skiddaw. It didn’t take me long to decide on the latter

I set off up the slanting path up the scree slopes, which looks impossible to climb seen from a distance, but which is quite easy for most of the way. The final section however is unremittingly steep, and involves a significant huff and puff factor. It was a relief to make it to the summit ridge on Skiddaw. Before visiting the main summit cairn I made a quick there and back detour to enjoy the superlative views from the south end of the fell. I then retraced my steps and went on to Skiddaw Man, the true summit. From here I started the long descent, heading north at first. The Solway Firth and Scotland could clearly be seen ahead most of the way down

After following the path towards Bakestall for a while, I veered off east to head down into Barkbethdale. I recall this as being an easy route, but today my progress was tortuously slow thanks to the frosty and slippery path. This is a very remote area, and would be a bad place to suffer an injury. Eventually I made it down to Barkbethdale, and from there followed the path around Watches where I rejoined my original ascent route and retraced my steps back to the start

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