Skiddaw is a much-maligned mountain. Approached the usual way, from Keswick, it can be a little bit uninspiring. This is a shame because Skiddaw has so much more to offer. For starters, it offers one of the best views in England. So, stick with it and, like us, tackle it from Bassenthwaite via Ullock Pike. You won’t regret it.
We were fortunate enough to be camping just outside Bassenthwaite at Kestrel Lodge Campsite. Consequently, our walk began at our tent door. Picking up the trail after crossing just a couple of open fields, we couldn’t have asked for a better location.
The early sections of the walk are pleasant enough and offer lovely views of what many would term to be ‘traditional English countryside’. With rolling green hills and lakes appearing on the horizon every now and then, it was very different from my usual hiking ground of Snowdonia, which appears more rugged by comparison. It was certainly nice to appreciate this change of scenery.
Before we knew it, and after a rather ferocious rain shower, we caught sight of Ullock Pike’s ridgeline before us. What begins as a gentle ascent over a rather broad ridge, soon develops into a far more defined ridge. What’s more, as you look around you, gorgeous views flood your line of sight. From Bassenthwaite Lake to Skiddaw, which opens up in front of you, it’s easy to see why many people are adamant that this is the best route up England’s 4th highest peak. I’m definitely one of them.
As well as being beautifully picturesque, I like this route for another reason too: accessibility. For anyone starting out in mountain walking, who wants to bag a 3000 footer, this is ideal. Despite Ullock Pike being a ridge, it is broad enough not to cause any issues. Furthermore, there is a total lack of exposure as the ridge sides slope down pretty gently around you. For some, this may sound a little dull. Don’t let it put you off. This route up Skiddaw is worth it for the views alone.
After you have conquered Ullock Pike, you’ll begin a brief period of respite on mostly flat and slightly descending ground. Use this time to refuel because, before long, you’ll reach the final steep ascent up to Skiddaw itself.
Again, this final ascent, despite being steep, is still very accessible. It lacks any serious drops or exposure and is notably only for its change in underfoot conditions. Having walked on mostly grassy and firm trails so far, you’ll now encounter Skiddaw’s unique slate. This, when combined with the gradient, is where some legs may begin to sap. Plough on though; the views at the summit are well worth it.
After the obligatory summit selfie on Skiddaw, you’ll then head north, eventually taking a left to get yourself on the Cumbria Way. Passing the lovely Whitewater Dash Falls and more photo opportunities, you’ll soon be back at Peter House Farm, which was just a stone’s throw away from our campsite.
It may not be the most adventurous mountain walk I’ve ever done, but I really enjoyed Skiddaw. Approaching it from the much quieter Bassenthwaite side meant far less people and much better views. So, if you’re ever in the Lakes and want a 3000ft mountain that’s accessible enough for those with little mountain experience, try this one.
Mountain: Skiddaw (931 metres/3,054 ft)
Distance: 9 miles
Total Ascent: 2985ft