Skiddaw from Peter House Farm

2nd January 2023

If anyone would like to go back to my Helvellyn walk and scroll to the bottom of the report I've written a short New Years message because at the time of writing I truly believed that I'd walk sometime in between Christmas and New Year, shows what I know.

I know it's December but unless you like walking in the rain there wasn't much time to get out over Christmas so much so I only got as far as local dog walks and instead I watched my back garden flood whilst chomping on Christmas left overs.

As it turned out the brightest day had been reserved for the last day before we all headed back into work and fair to the forecast, it stuck. I've kinda fell back into the armchair opting to walk the longer hillier climbs on Saturdays using Sunday as a recovery / rest day or in my case, write my walk report. The wasn't a cat in hells chance we was going to miss this weather window which sat wedged between two days of rain. I was so eager to get boot onto fell I could have climbed The Eiger but we opted for Skidda instead.

Wainwright Guide Book Five
The Northern Fells

Ascent: 2,724 Feet - 830 Metres
Wainwrights: 2, Bakestall - Skiddaw
Visiting: 3, Skiddaw North Top - Skiddaw South Top - Sale How
Weather: Winter Sun Through The Morning Clouding Over Slightly PM Highs of 4°C Lows of 0°C Feels Like -10°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Peter House Farm
Area: Northern
Miles: 9.3
Walking With: David Hall & Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 5 Hours 15 Minutes
Route: Peter House Farm - Cumbrian Way - Whitewater Dash - Birkett Edge - Bakestall - Skiddaw North Top - Skiddaw - Skiddaw South Top - Sale How - Skiddaw House - Cumbrian Way - Whitewater Dash - Peter House Farm

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA12 4QX
Grid Reference: NY 249 032
Notes: There is room for up to seven cars just opposite Peter House Farm with the Cumbrian Way passing right by leaving excellent access to the Uldale and Back O'Skiddaw fells. The parking spaces can be found on the right hand side (if approaching from Bassenthwaite) with two metal gates which open out on to the Cumbrian Way. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Sunlight breaching Binsey summit 08:40am 0°C

I left home under starry skies and witnessed the colours of dawn erupting in my rear view mirror as I drove along the A66 towards Keswick passing the snow capped peaks of Blencathra and Clough Head in the early light. Continuing on I passed Lonscale Fell and Skiddaw which from about 2,800ft also had a good dusting of snow and I couldn't but help let out a little 'yee'haw' Dawn had broken but the sun was too low to have a significant effect behind the most northern of fells.

I arrived at the parking spaces close to Peter House Farm around 08:15am to find a large walking group kitting up those ready chatted on the tarmac or between their cars. Luckily I was able to grab one of three last parking spaces David arriving soon after grabbing the second and Rod minutes later edged into the last. And it wasn't 08:30am yet.

Sunlight slowly edging into the valley.

With the cars locked we left the parking spaces, passed through the gate and joined the track bound for Dash Falls which was just under a two mile walk away. The temperature was hovering around freezing and with little to no sunlight entering the valley we were soon feeling the effects adding hats and gloves from the off. The track twisted and rose around the lower flanks of Dead Crags with impressive views of Dash Farm on the opposite side of the valley.

By now sunlight was starting to creep into the valley casting more light over Binsey and Orthwaite Bank over on the right.

Blencathra, Great Dodd, Sale How and Lonscale Pike from Birkett Edge on Bakestall.

Despite all recent heavy rain Dash Falls were seen well before they were heard which Rod had pointed out to myself and David. We had reached the base of Birkett Edge just as a couple joined the track and I got talking to the guy who said they'd been up on Skiddaw for the sunrise which was beautiful but it was brutally cold at the summit they added.

For now though it didn't matter how brutal the summit temperature was because the sun had risen high enough to cast light over the 'back O'Skidda' where it felt wonderful to be back in the sunshine.

Looking back beyond Little Calva towards Knott, Great Sca Fell, Little Sca Fell and a distant Brae Fell.
As Rod had suggested it was a boggy start and wearing gaiters paid off until we reached firmer, frozen ground around half the way up Birkett Edge. By now spirits had certainly lifted despite the gradient steepening. The wind grew colder but at least we were in direct sunlight which took the edge off the declining temperature.

Looking back on Birkett Edge...
...towards Little Calva, Great Calva, Knott, Great Sca Fell, Little Sca Fell, Brae Fell and finally Carrock Fell seen over on the right.

Skiddaw Little Man, Skiddaw and the spur of Broad End (leading off towards the right)

The temperature between valley and summit was now markable as we crested Bakestall summit where the temperature was close to -10°C in the windchill. Although he never spoke of it I could see a slight look of concern on David's face over how Calva, who was wearing a fleece lined waterproof coat would react to the cold.

Three barks from Calva told us to shake our tales.

Views beyond Binsey towards the Solway Firth and Criffel.
Note Bakestall's huge shadow cast below.

Skiddaw Little Man and Skiddaw from Bakestall.

We all added or changed into heavier layers me opting for a warmer hat, David added a jacket on top of his fleece and Rod adjusted his new balaclava.

Looking back on Bakestall.
We still had about 850ft of ascent but at least the gradient was a lot less steeper than that of Birkett Edge. We entered the snow line at around 2,100ft ABSL which lay over the top of frozen ground leaving no difficulties to ascend.

Almost at the top of Broad End.
Where the fence we were following turned south.

I'm not sure if Calva has seen a UFO, is about to sneeze or give us a rollicking, whatever it is it looks like he means business so we best keep moving.

Skiddaw North Summit.
Under a blazing Winter sun we continued over the soft snow towards Skiddaw's most northerly summit.

Looking down on Broad End our ascent on the North Summit.
The bulk of the north summit provided momentarily relief from the windchill but we knew once we crested the shoulder we'd be right back in it.

Skiddaw from Skiddaw's North summit cairn.
We arrived at the north summit cairn any exposed skin such as cheek bones taking the brunt of the windchill. I'd been wearing sunglasses to help alleviate my eyes streaming which also helped keep the wind out. It appeared that we'd have the summit to ourselves but we'd seen how busy the car parks were and it seemed inevitable that someone was going to reach the summit before we did.

Apporaching Skiddaw summit.
We'd spoken too soon and as soon as I said "it looks like we have the summit to ourselves" left my lips two mountain bikers arrived followed by a young couple on foot. Oh well not to worry.

While David took Calva over to the summit shelter I found myself looking down on the sunlight reflecting on the brass plated toposcope, what an incredible place.


Time to leave.

While I joined David at the shelter Rod caught up who had been taking photos from the north cairn. Even though we were hunkered down behind the shelter wall we couldn't escape the wind, or more importantly Calva couldn't escape the wind so David set off with me seconds later followed by Rod

Descending the South summit.
With views of Little Man and the Dodds beyond.

Descending the South summit with views of Little Man.
Wanting to have a better view of Carl Side below I strode right towards the steep path linking Carl Side with Skiddaw then found myself descending further, and further for a better view. The way I was going I'd have been half way down the path before the views opened up so I returned to the summit after not taking the shot I'd gone down there for.

Blencathra, Lonscale Pike and Lonscale Fell.
The closer we descended from the south summit the more walkers we could see both on Little Man and the path which outflanks the summit. Including those stood at its summit and those crossing the col linking Little Man with the sorth summit I counted twenty people with more appearing. Flipping eck now we know why the car parks were so full so early.

Descending towards Sale How.
With views over Blencathra, Mungrisdale Common and Bannerdale Crags.

Looking back on Skiddaw from Sale How.
Feeling content and talking about how much we'd enjoyed the day so far whilst on route to Sale How we noticed the skies clouding over from the west and spoke of how lucky we'd been to have had blue skies over head whilst we were at the summit.

Descending Sale How.
With views opening out over what is referred to on the map as Skiddaw Forrest. Over on the left we have Great Calva with Knott just behind. Carrock Fell can be seen centre and Bowscale Fell and Bannerdale Crags seen right.

Blencathra and Mungrisdale Common.

Great Calva, Coomb Height, Carrock Fell and Bowscale Fell.
With the snow left behind in favour of a frozen ground we made our way down Sale How agreeing to stop for lunch at Skiddaw House nestled within the coppice of trees over on the right.

Lunch with a view.
By now we figured we'd earned ourselves a hearty lunch and settled down behind the permitter wall of Skiddaw House just watching the world go by and drinking piping hot Vimto.

Binsey and Orthwaite Bank from the Cumbrian Way.
The skies continued to cloud over and with it came a drop in temperature but after joining the Cumbrian Way for the just under two miles walk back to the cars it started to brighten up and with the sun on our backs it felt quite mild.

Orthwaite Bank and Great Cock Up.

Little Nettle Hause, Black Nettle Hause, Dash Falls and Bakestall's East ridge from the Cumbrian Way.

We had passed quite a few people walking to and from Skiddaw House most it seemed were enjoying what was left of the afternoon sunshine. We walked back through the valley with Bakestall's Dead Crags blocking any sunlight. The frozen puddles had started to thaw slightly but the night time temperatures would see them freeze over again. Leaving the valley behind we had a splendid view of Binsey as sheep grazed away in the Winter sunshine without a care in the world.

What a fine start to 2023


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