Mar 122011

‘That’s Glenridding Dodd.’ Mark Hook pointed out of the dining room window at Moss Crag guesthouse. ‘It’s a shame people don’t go up there from Glenridding any more.
First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
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The Victorians did, and they knew a good view when they saw one. It’s a beautiful little fell. And here’s how you can link it up with Sheffield Pike …’

In the Lake District it’s handy to have a B&B host who knows the local fells inside out. Within five minutes Mark had pencilled out the route on my map. It didn’t seem too fearsome, even though some of the contours looked a little close-packed for comfort. After all, if Victorian ladies and gentlemen had managed it in their crinolines and well polished high-lows …

Half an hour into the walk I paused to catch my breath, not for the first time. If our genteel ancestors really did ‘ascend’ Glenridding Dodd (it was always ‘ascending’, never ‘climbing up’) by this 45° channel of rubbly stones, they must have been made of stern stuff. In an era when high fells like Helvellyn and Scafell Pike were still considered Alpine in difficulty, Glenridding Dodd was a worthy objective for a family ‘ascent’. Up at the summit of the Dodd, a towering lump of rock scabbed with pale outcrops, I saw what they had perspired to see, a fabulous prospect down the southern length of Ullswater.

Nowadays, with better boots and weatherproof gear, we nonchalantly tackle mountains all over the world. Celebrity mountaineers and their TV heroics can make the humbler fells of Lakeland seem unworthy of attention. Alfred Wainwright wouldn’t have had any truck with such notions. He commends the modest delights of Glenridding Dodd to his disciples, and points approvingly towards the scrambly crag-top climb up the ridge of Heron Pike to the tarn-spattered moor leading to Sheffield Pike.

With a travel-stained copy of the Master’s ‘Guide to the Eastern Fells’ in hand, I negotiated the steep and rugged pathway, splashed between the peaty tarns and stood by the cairn on Sheffield Pike, lord of a most superb view – north up Ullswater, east to the long line of the High Street ridge, west into the great green clefts under Glencoyne Head, and south to the blade-like profile of Helvellyn, standing dark and threatening like a lead weight against the clouds.

Wainwright hated the lead mines whose remnants scar the upper end of Glenridding. But I enjoyed the descent through those incredible banks of multi-coloured spoil, hanging in the sky like the sword of Damocles over the former smelting mills dwarfed at their feet.

Start & finish: Glenridding car park, CA11 0PD (OS ref NY 386170)

Getting there:

Bus: 108 (Penrith –, 208 (Keswick, summer only –, 517 (Windermere, summer only –
Road: A592, beside Glenridding Bridge.

(7 miles, hard, OS Explorer OL5): From car park follow signs to Traveller’s Rest, PH (382170). 100 yards past pub, right (‘Greenside Road’). Fork left (‘Greenside Mine’); past 2 terraces, through gate at cattle grid, right up zigzag path; in 100 yards, right (yellow arrow) up steep stony track to wall at saddle (378175). Don’t go through gate; follow wall to right; in 150 yards, right up track to summit of Glenridding Dodd (381175).

Return to gate; don’t go through, but keep ahead, with wall on right, along path (grass, then stones). Steeply up ridge of Heron Pike, then across boggy grass for ¼ mile to summit of Sheffield Pike (369182).

From summit aim west for long ridge of mine spoil. Cross Swart Beck by footbridge (359179); left along mine track; steeply down to mine buildings. Just before buildings, right (364174; ‘Red Tarn, Helvellyn’). In 200 yards, left across Glenridding Beck; left along hillside path for almost a mile. At fork by big boulder with wall, left downhill; follow wall; through gate by ladder stile (376167). Down stony path; cross Glenridding Beck by Rattlebeck Bridge; Traveller’s Rest; car park.

NB: Very steep path up to saddle below Glenridding Dodd, and up ridge of Heron Pike. Boots, fell-walking gear, stick advisable. A walk for fit, energetic fell-walkers. Not recommended in mist.

Online map, more walks:

Lunch: Traveller’s Rest Inn, Greenside Road (01768-482298).

Accommodation and advice: Moss Crag Guesthouse, Glenridding CA11 0PA (01768-482500;

Info: Ullswater TIC, Glenridding car park (01768-482414;;

 Posted by at 02:52

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