It was a well-deserved week away and as usual we were heading to the Lake District, fingers crossed the weather would hold out as we had a good few walks planned. It looked decent for Monday so we thought we’d get straight into it by taking a different route up Skiddaw from last time, this time was via Ullock Pike.
We arrived at the caravan Sunday night after finishing work at 4pm and throwing everything into the car. Our well-tuned routine means we are sorted and route planning with a cheeky snifter in no time. We were attempting to finish the Northern Fells this visit so Ullock Pike and Bakestall were to be done; standing between the two is the fourth highest mountain in England so we had to negotiate that too. I was secretly buzzing with that, the higher I am means the happier I am.
As we drove along the A66 we inspected the peaks and the amount of covering they had, Blencathra had her head in the clouds but it seemed to be blowing off and on with sunny spells in between so we kept to the plan and found a parking spot at OL 4, 236310 just off the A591 at High Side and parked on the road just after the turning. The spot was quite popular with three blokes also pulling up to don their daysacks and boots, one commented on how it would be slightly mad to attempt Skiddaw with the low cloud which seemed to have hidden the summit, hey ho, we’re slightly mad then.
We walked up the road to a farm gate and entered the fell, after two wall crossings a sharp right turn took us onto the ‘Allerdale Ramble’, which was the route up Ullock Pike and the start of a canny uphill push which hardly let up until we hit Longside Edge. All the way, we could see Skiddaw clearing and covering every time we looked, it was going to be a matter of timing, not ours but natures. Ullock Pike gave great views of Bassenthwaite Lake and Derwentwater, which made a nice change from the face on the miserable bloke who appeared to take exception to my playful Springer trying to play with his two dogs. To me, hillwalking is a community were most people say “Hi” and sometimes pass the time of day, and a part of that community is dogs, they play and get excited and communicate too. Enough said!
Longside Edge gave our legs a rest before the attack at the scree path up to the top of the Skiddaw plateau, not before Alfie could have a play in Carlside Tarn. At this point I saw the 3 blokes who we spoke to in the car park, we’d lost them then and didn’t see them up Ullock Pike so I couldn’t get my head around their route. They were walking up the scree path, they couldn’t have come up Carlside and didn’t see them on Ullock, confusing.
The scree path up from Carlside Tarn north east towards the southern end of the Skiddaw table top is a great thigh burner, we met a couple having bait half way up. Alfie quickly smelt the food, he sniffs the air, then makes a quick run towards his target but appears to run past not paying attention, it’s his second fly past where he stops and puts on the puppy eyes. Luckily id caught up to hush him on before the unsuspecting hikers had their bait TWOC’d.
We reached the top of the slippery loose shingly path with legs burning and lungs gasping to be met by high winds and thrice the amount of hill walkers than were scraping up the scree path. It was very windy and the cold was nipping slightly but no need for the amount of kit some people were wearing as we neared the summit. A few of the hikers coming back down from the top were dressed like they’d just topped K2, must have been southerners (just kidding).
The summit came and went with Alfie making friends with a 6 month old Rottweiler in the cloud and a selfie of Kel and me, that’s a first. We made our way north to Gibraltar Crag and a quick drop down into the sunshine and a reconnection with our 3 parking buddies who were having their bait. Eh!!??
We hugged the fence down to Bakestall and a pretty eventless summit of Wainwright’s 100 highest, then a right turn took us down a joint bashing Birkett Edge down to the Cumbria Way. We left the ‘Way’ at Peters House Farm and followed the road back to the car and he starting point, I was glad to see the car.
Alfie is still a puppy and gets excited about everything, I’m afraid to say a couple of sheep on Ullock Pike may have been the target of his curiosity but nothing malicious and came back on recall…..ish!