Great Calva from Skiddaw House

Great Calva from Skiddaw House

Height: 2265 feet above sea level.

Volume: Book 5 (The Northern Fells)

Date climbed: 16th January 2012 (walk 50)

Bagged as number: 156 out of 330. [ << Mungrisdale Common (155)  (157) Bakestall >> ]

Route of ascent and descent:  Approached from Skiddaw House, having walked there from Threlkeld. Left via Little Calva, descending back to the Skiddaw House supply road, and went on up to Bakestall.

The view south from Great Calva

The ‘gun barrel’ view from Great Calva, southwards: Helvellyn is the most distant fell in view.

What Mr Wainwright says (from page 10 of his chapter): “Lakeland is severed by a great geological fault: a deep trough running north and south across the district…. The rift continues through the Vale of St. John’s and the Glenderaterra Valley to Skiddaw Forest where, situated exactly at the head, there rises the graceful cone of Great Calva…. Great Calva’s unique position provides it with a view along the direct line of the facult, so that, despite the mountains crowding into the scene, there is a remarkable vista, like looking along the sights of a gun, through the heart of the district to the low Windermere fells in the extreme south.”

Frozen marsh on Great Calva

Frozen marsh between Little and Great Calva

What I say: Great Calva has a beautiful shape when seen from the south, an aspect constantly in view as one approaches up the Glenderaterra valley (see the picture above). So sharp is this ‘pyramid’ that it comes as a surprise to see how the fell loses form from any other angle and, in fact, is quite flat and boggy on the top. It was far from being a bad climb, however: the perfect winter conditions and the utter solitude made it memorable. The ascent from the bridge over Dead Beck is really not that tough; bear in mind that if you follow the fence to get down, Little Calva seems boggy and the final descent back to the road is awkward, so it might just be better to return the way you came up.

Although I didn’t get the full effect, thanks to the low winter sun and general mistiness making everything beyond about 10 miles south invisible, the optical effect mentioned by Wainwright is quite apparent from the summit. There are these wide expanses of heathery moor in just about every other direction, but he’s right – shooting straight off south is this great, long vista down through the rest of the district. Interesting.

[ << Great Borne     Great Carrs >> ]

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