View from White Stones

View south from White Stones, on Carl Side

Date completed: 29th September 2016.

Weather conditions: Took a gamble on a forecast of “sunshine and showers”. For photography, it paid off, as you hopefully agree. For walking, when it was sunny, it was pleasant — but there was a lot less of this than when it was showering, when it wasn’t very pleasant, up to and including a shower of hail in the face on the top of Carl Side. It was also the windiest walk of 2016 by some distance.

View from Dodd summit

View north from Dodd summit, across Bassenthwaite Lake

Summits bagged: Carl Side (2447 feet above sea level, no. 75 of my second round), Dodd (1647’, no. 76).

Both fells were first bagged quite some time ago, Carl Side on walk 2 (20/7/09) and Dodd on walk 9 (18/1/10).

Start and end points: Started in Keswick, at the bus stop opposite the end of Station Road. Finished at the car park at the foot of Dodd Wood, on the A592, opposite the entrance to Mirehouse. This is served by X4 (but not X5) buses between Penrith, Keswick and Workington.

The walk fitted very comfortably between the 10:00 arrival in Keswick from Penrith, and the approximate 15:00 departure from Mirehouse back to Penrith. Indeed, I had about an hour to spare. If you plan it so you have a late sit-down lunch at the end, that is probably the best way of filling the time. Or, go and see the manor of Mirehouse. Or take your time over your mug of tea.

Sheep near Millbeck

Sheep near Millbeck

Distance walked:  8.25 miles approximately.

Total ascent:  2600 feet approx.

Café at end:  Not a pub, because it is not licensed to serve alcohol. Nevertheless the Old Sawmill Tearoom, at the Mirehouse car park, is a nice place to wait for the bus, and if there’s time, it can do you a full meal (see above).

Route: Although this is not the most exciting walk in the District in terms of terrain, it scores highly in one respect, namely its absolutely stupendous views. I do not exaggerate: the view south from the Skiddaw range is, in my opinion (and Wainwright’s), the best there is round here, and you get it for the whole four hours. Other bonuses: easy to follow paths (mostly), and very few muddy patches.


View south along the Newlands valley

There are various possible routes from Keswick to Millbeck. The way I took minimises road walking even if it may not be the quickest. Get off the bus at the stop by the war memorial at the end of Station Road, and head up there to the old railway station (note that the former public toilets here are no longer open).

Turn left here up Brundholme Road, then a few hundred yards later, right up Spooney Green Lane. Cross the bypass and then go through the gate into the wood, then immediately turn left, through the fields to the Ormathwaite lane. Here turn right, then left through the fields. This was the only bit today where the paths were unclear; the key seems to be to keep the two prominent dead trees on your right, until the gate appears ahead. (Check the map…)

Carsleddam and Latrigg

Carsleddam, with Latrigg behind

From Applethwaite to Millbeck it is easy enough to just walk along the road. This isn’t busy with traffic, but the reason for this at the moment is almost certainly that the bridge across Mill Beck still has not been repaired since the December 2015 floods, and is closed. There is an easy alternative for pedestrians however, which is signposted, and as soon as this alternative comes out of a gate beside a garage, turn right (signposted to Skiddaw) and the climb proper begins.  After that, route finding advice is mostly superfluous. Just follow the path up, through the outcrop of White Stones, and then up to the summit of Carl Side.

From here there are other options for continuing the walk, namely up to Skiddaw or along the ridge to Long Side and Ullock Pike, but I retraced my steps back to White Stones and then bore right along the obvious path, then turned left at the cairn and dropped down to the col of Long Doors. Here, cross the stile, turn right, then double back left up the hill, and this engineered path leads to Dodd’s summit. Go slightly beyond it to get the best views of Bassenthwaite Lake.

Field near Applethwaite

Field near Applethwaite

Descent back to Millbeck and thence to Keswick is an option from here (see walk 9), but I diversified, and followed the green ‘Dodd Summit Trail’ signs. These led me north and north-west, round to the valley of Skill Beck and thence down to the car park and tea room. This is a very good descent; undoubtedly there are quicker options distance-wise, but the route lies along very agreeable and knee-friendly paths. Enjoy.

Couple above Derwentwater

Couple above Derwentwater

Crepuscular commentary: This is my last Thursday free until Christmas. Teaching starts next week and I do every Thursday morning of the semester, plus a regular commitment Thursday afternoons (as if that matters extra). I had my eye on today for a walk for weeks, and it turned out that in the end, the work I had to do today was some of that reading and thinking crap, the stuff that I can do anywhere.

Dodd Wood

In Dodd Wood

The forecast was dubious, but also enticing. “Sunshine and Showers”, particularly in the Lakes, can mean anything. I was prepared to get a bit wet if it was worth it, so made a point of heading for a part of the District that I knew would deliver up the views. And boy oh boy did that pay off.  It is impossible to capture the reality in a small camera lens, I mean, I know proper landscape photographers manage it (with equipment twenty times the cost of mine), but I did my best. The crepuscular rays — sunbeams — were amazing, they spilt over Derwentwater like milk.

Rain shower over Derwentwater

Rain shower over Derwentwater

I also beg indulgence due to the fact that it was a terrifically windy day on the summits, and that on top of Carl Side, I had to simply turn my back on the weather for a few minutes — walking into the hail throwing itself into my eyes was just impossible.

Little more to add, making this probably the shortest commentary ever. Worktober looms, and it’s certain I won’t manage more than one walk in October and if the weather doesn’t work out, possibly none; I have only two possible free days, and need to get Joe motivated for either one of them. But the pace keeps up, I’ve not lost interest yet in the second round.

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