Ullock Pike, from Dodd

Ullock PIke, viewed from Dodd: Bassenthwaite Lake just seen to left

Date completed: 18th January 2010

Weather conditions: Ideal for walking, particularly bearing in mind the time of year and the recent, very snowy, weather. It was mild, still, dry and – an added bonus – still cold enough in the ground to not be very muddy. Some low cloud which lifted later – as you can see from this picture and the others below.

Approach to the summit of Dodd

On the final stages of the approach to the summit

Fells climbed: Dodd (1612 feet above sea level, no. 29).

Distance: 9 miles approximately.

Total ascent: 1750 feet approx.

Start and end points: Keswick bus station.

Pub at end: The Bank Tavern, Keswick. As this is basically the nearest pub to the bus station I can see myself making a few visits here, particularly if time is short. Notable for a good choice of beers, and also the rather loud gentleman spouting archaic racist metaphors (apparently oblivious to what he was really saying).

Route card: Click on the link to download a route card (2Mb, .doc format), showing summary information, a map, the elevation profile and waypoints with grid references. Route card for walk 9: Dodd

Route: Leaving Keswick is not as straightforward as it seems. The footbridges by the main road at grid reference NY261245 are the best to head for yet the paths around Crosthwaite parish church and the Keswick School are confusing; the school grounds may be restricted and signposting does not help either. The way to go is around the school to the right, as you look at it from the Keswick side. After that you just tramp across the fields to Applethwaite then Millbeck.

Towards the top of Dodd Wood

Towards the top of Dodd Wood, approaching Long Doors col

The path I took leaves the road at NY254263 and after a brief climb up a bracken covered slope enters the wood and climbs upward. I hazard a guess that it is very difficult to get lost on the way to the summit as long as you always pick the path or forest road that is ascending. The road you join at NY248269 is very good, a marvellous walking surface in fact, and it bends round to the col at Long Doors next to which a path to the summit doubles back; there is a little signpost though you can only see it if you approach from the other side. As noted on the page about Dodd, the upper reaches of the fell are substantially altered from Wainwright’s day and the final stages of the ascent are now undertaken on a very good, engineered path up the open fell (see picture at top).

Another path appears to leave the summit but I retraced my steps to Long Doors. I then intended to take a different route back to Keswick, coming out of the wood at Dancing Gate (NY 245265) and then back to Keswick along the flat country by the River Derwent. However, the path/road junction at NY 244269 completely passed me by and I was back out of the wood at the same place I came in before even realising I had gone wrong. So I just retraced my steps, more-or-less.

Looking towards Newlands

Looking towards the Newlands valley, on the walk back from Millbeck

First commentary of 2010 stuff: This one was a long time coming, or felt like it. Ten weeks since I went up Loughrigg in what with hindsight was a bit of a damp trudge. In the intervening time I have been frustrated by a succession of serious obstacles – terrible weather (the awful floods in November), lots of work in the run up to Christmas, and then more terrible weather (the snowiest period in some thirty years).

But over the last few days there has been a distinct thaw and the forecast for today is good. The Weatherline web site is still giving Arctic-sounding conditions for the top of Helvellyn but does grudgingly acknowledge that lower down there has been a thaw. Dodd appeals at this point largely because I know that much of the way up you are sheltered in the trees, which are evergreen anyway so it comes to mind that this is a walk that probably wouldn’t be much different in January from July. It’s not too high up and fairly sheltered so I’m hoping if there is snow left it won’t be too bad. I have been stuck in Hebden Bridge for two weeks, without even managing trips to Manchester, and really need some fresh air and a change of scene so I take a risk and go for it.

Latrigg emerges from the clouds

Latrigg emerges from the clouds

How glad I am that I did. This was an excellent walk and proof that I do not need to bag five summits, walk all day or climb a major fell to feel fulfilled. The gamble on the weather paid off in gold; walking conditions were excellent, it was dry, still and mild, with the added advantage of mostly frozen ground, but not icy, so I walked on the top of the mud instead of trudging through troughs of the stuff as would have been the case if the thaw had been more prolonged. (In fact I was surprised how little snow remained today, considering how much there has been over the last month.)

My timing was spectacularly good with the choice of day then – but also with the time of the walk. I left Keswick without Skiddaw or any of its satellites visible at all through cloud. All the way up through Dodd Wood and up the marvellously-graded and easy forest roads I am in the clouds with only occasional tantalising glimpses of the landscape to the south and the higher, still snow-covered slopes to the north. Well, never mind, I think. I am just glad to be walking in dry weather even if it is overcast. But right as I reach the summit the skies suddenly open up, blue skies on one side of the frame and some huge clouds, mimicking mountains, over Bass Lake. I like also this shot of Latrigg seeming to emerge like a crab from a creamy sea of cloud and snow (see picture above).

Derwentwater and Portinscale viewed from Dodd

Derwentwater and Portinscale viewed from Dodd

That’s not the end of the natural spectacle however. Coming down the forest road, once again the clouds suddenly open up and through the breaks, gigantic sunbeams shine down on Derwentwater, Newlands and the fells around. I must end up with about twenty photos all trying to capture the view: none quite do (how could they?) but two or three are very good (see the final picture below). Elated by all this I then lose my bearings slightly in the woods and end up just retracing my steps instead of, as planned, getting back to Keswick a different way, but it doesn’t matter. The skies stay clear this time and by the time I come back through Millbeck it’s positively springlike. It’ll probably snow again before the weekend but I don’t care, I feel I saw some amazing, unrepeatable things today and this Project is fully back on after a winter break. It’ll be at least a month before I can go again but I’ve enough to keep me going until then.

Derwent Valley, viewed from Dodd

The view from Dodd. Fells visible, left-to-right, are Grange Fell (King’s How, visible beyond Derwentwater), Catbells and Maiden Moor, Causey Pike and Barrow in front of the clouds.

One Response to “Walk 9: Dodd”

  1. […] and/or too much work, I have managed another walk, from Keswick and up Dodd. All the information on walk 9 is ready for those who may be interested. Spectacular views as well, which I did my best to capture […]

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