Saturday, 18 May 2013

Up on Skid Row..........May 17th.

The weatherman on the local TV station got it right, the west would be fine, the east could be wet, so we opted to drive over to the Lake District for a gadgie walk, specifically Skiddaw. (The name comes from Old Scandinavian and means the "overhanging hill".
 Skiddaw is geologically different from the rest of the Lakeland mountains because it is to the north of the A66. Geographers and geologers will also tell you that south of the A66 the mountains are volcanic but on the north side of the road Skiddaw and Blencathra are sedimentary layers of shales and slates.
To get to the start of the walk go west from Newcastle on the A69. For a bit of variety we turned off on the A686 just beyond Hexham and went on what is considered by many to be one of the finest scenic drives in Britain, through Alston, over Hartside (well worth stopping at the café on a clear day to admire the spectacular view) and through Melmerby to Penrith where we joined the A66 to Keswick. If you follow this route do not go into the town but continue to the roundabout, turn right on the road to Carlisle and watch out for the sign for Ormathwaite. Follow the road through the village and continue up a track until you reach a grassy parking area.
Actually we stopped in the village of Melmerby and went to the Café B in the Village Bakery where some of us were served with bacon sandwiches, some had toast and honey and one just tea. The bacon butties were of such high standard, as was the service, they were awarded  5 flitches +T and an A*  to boot. Very highly recommended.
There are five gadgies on parade today, pm., vm., rm., hm., and bm.. and we all squeezed into one car.

The walk;
It is an easy walk to follow but  OL4, The English Lakes North Western Area covers almost all the walk. The car park is at NY280254

                                        Appearing shortly in the "Ian Allen Car Park Spotters Book"
priced at 17/6 from all good bookshops this is the car park at the start of the walk. Note the number of tadpoles in the ditch on the north side, if it's tadpole season.

                                               Skiddaw, target for the day.
We went through the gate at the far end of the car park and turned left. Before us was the track that would lead us to the summit.   It is a well worn track, known as the Tourist Route, and was favoured in the nineteenth century when even ladies, attired in full skirts no doubt, would ascend the mountain on horseback, led by their man servant who also carried hampers of cold ham and refreshing lemonade.
It is a long steady and quite steep climb, initially up to Jenkin Hill and then on and up to Little Man, although before starting the climb to the latter there is an alternative route leading off to the right and signposted Skiddaw Summit. It doesn't cut much off. From Little Man the path goes downhill for a while before rising again to the plateau that is Skiddaw. The summit plateau itself is a little dull, there being little grass but plenty of shale and slate, but the views are superb.
                                 On the path to Little Man
                                                 Keswick and Derwentwater from Little Man
 To the south almost the whole of Lakeland is laid out before you, to the west the glow of Sellafield  and Bassenthwaite and on a clear day the Isle of Man, to the north the sweep of the Solway Firth and the hills of Galloway and  to the east is Blencathra.
                                       Bassenthwaite is home to a family of Ospreys
We stopped at the summit cairn for a Herbie Spot. Strictly speaking the cairn is just below the summit which, at 3054 feet is marked by a trig point. As an additional treat to the usual ginger biscuits and chocolate we had some of Mrs. A's delicious muesli biscuits, although Brian admitted they had had to leave out the cranberries
Lunch over we resumed our walk, heading north from the trig point, and downhill too until we found and followed a fence line, except we made a slight detour north and back to a cairn over looking the Solway Plain. Back to fence we descended to a pretty waterfall with a pretty name, Whitewater Dash.

                                              Whitewater Dash, not exactly Niagara, but nice.
From here there is another good track to follow over moorland to Skiddaw House, the highest and one of the more isolated Youth Hostels  in England (1555 feet). As members we considered having a cup of tea but decided against it. I think the sign saying "For a bed ring Carol" put us off, she didn't leave a number.
                                    Skiddaw House YH, a former shepherds  bothy. Only accessible by foot.
Leaving the hostel we continued along what is part of the Cumbrian Way. high above the Glenderaterra Beck. At one point there is a choice, take the left fork and the path leads to Threlkeld, turn right and the path goes back to the car park and this was the one we followed.
                                             Looking north above Glenderaterra Beck

The path turns west and crosses the Whit Beck before turning south again and leading back to the car park.

                                               Whit Beck, almost back at the car park.

Changed we headed for Threlkeld and called at the Horse and Farrier. This is a very popular pub but  caters mostly for diners late in the afternoon and early in the evening. There is no room to sit and enjoy your pint of Jennings Cumberland or English Pale Ale, but the service is excellent, friendly bar staff too. So friendly she said that for a quiet drink with a seat we should try the Sally across the road!
Another great Gadgie walk though, well fed and watered.

The Matrix MCMVIII

                                                                          steps                   miles

Reliable ASDAped                                          24017                    11.04
LIDL3D                                                                  16.. something wrong here
Dave's LIDL3D                                               24860                    11.43
Dave's LIDLUSB                                             24041                    10.24
OUTDOORS GPS                                                                          10.3
Brian's GPS                                                                                     10.4
Ben's bragometer                                                                             10.4
Not bad, apart from my LIDL3D.

                                   It's a map of two halves, Brian. I plotted the route on OUTDOORGPS before the walk the only change being the short black cut off north of Skiddaw.

Bird of the blog.
Not a lot to see, a raven or two, finches, sparrows warblers and the bird of the blog, the Wheatear. A summer visitor to Britain, its name mean White Arse, because of the patch on its rump. Great people the Saxons.