I had multiple options on where to start this route, including Keswick and the north side of Latrigg, but in the end decided to start up at the Dodd Wood Car Park and get the big ascents out of the way as early as possible. The reason for this was the temperature… it had forecast a scorching hot day and I thought I’d benefit more from finishing the route with a long but easy low level road walk than the other way around. The evening before, I walked the Blencathra group before settling down to sleep in the car in one of the lay-bys on the A66, somewhere near Keswick. Upon waking, I popped to the Rheged Centre filling station for breakfast and a coffee before heading to Dodd Wood to start the walk. It was still nice and early and I was the first car to park in the normally busy car park.
Armed with a layer of sunscreen and 6 bottles of water, I began the walk up to the Summit of Dodd through Dodd Wood. Apparently I was lucky in my timing of the walk as the paths had only just opened up again after tree felling. After an initial steep section, the path contoured gently around the slopes of Dodd Wood before, eventually, a short steep path headed up to the summit. Despite it being the smallest Wainwright of the day at only 502 metres, it quite possibly had the best views. A decent view was available looking south towards Derwent Water but by far the best view from this summit was looking north-west over Bassenthwaite Lake. Breathtaking!
From Dodd, I retraced my steps back down the summit track before continuing east, descending to the gap between Dodd and the south ridge of Carl Side. After a steep ascent up to the ridge, I followed it uphill and north to the summit of the second Wainwright of the day, Carl Side. The sun was getting hotter and hotter as the day was progressing and I let out a sigh as I spotted the ridiculously steep path up Skiddaw on the opposite side of the col. I was able to delay the inevitable for a little longer though as my next objective was to grab the Wainwrights of Longside Edge and Ullock Pike. Both of these involved little ascent and were located on the ridge to the north-west of Carl Side, forming one side of Southerndale with Skiddaw forming the other. After getting to the end of the ridge at Ullock Pike, I turned around and retraced my steps back to Carl Side.
So this was it – the inevitable slog. The sun was even hotter now and it was doing an outstanding job of sapping all of my energy. Normally I would give myself a good workout and try and keep a good pace uphill, but I just didn’t have it in me. I shuffled up the path slowly. Very slowly. I was starting to wish I had an unlimited supply of drinks in my backpack as I was getting through them at a fair rate. Eventually, after what seemed like far too long, I hit the summit plateau. I wandered over to the official summit and had a brief rest by the trig point. I felt like my skin would start to char and blacken, and my blood boil if I sat still for too long and so I continued.
I headed south for a short distance before veering south-east, taking in Skiddaw Little Man before descending down Jenkin Hill. Eventually I arrived at the path that would eventually take me back down alongside Whit Beck. Not yet though as I first had to make a little detour to bag Lonscale Fell by following the right hand side of a wall. Easy walking and there hadn’t really been any big ascents since the one up to Skiddaws summit. The sun was still out and there was nowhere to hide, and not a cloud in the sky either. I’d drunk all but one bottle of my water and I could have quite easily gone through another 5 bottles. It was becoming almost impossible not to dehydrate. The water had warmed up with the high temperatures and was no longer satisfying. The water wasn’t just lukewarm, it was heated like I’d filled my bottles from a hot water tap.
From Lonscale Fell, I backtracked again and descended down the aforementioned path by Whit Beck. It was steep, but had some great views ahead to Latrigg during the descent. Eventually I arrived at the car park that sits between the slopes of Lonscale Fell and Latrigg, but not before passing a memorial for the Hawell family of shepherds who tended their flocks of Herdwick sheep on Skiddaw back in the 1800’s. Just one small Wainwright to go… and then, due to my starting location, a long walk back to the car.
Latrigg is only 368m high and would be described as a rounded grassy hump rather than any kind of mountain. I walked up the summit with ease – opting for the direct route rather than the wheelchair friendly path which winds its way more gradually up. The hill overlooks Keswick and so the views from the top are excellent despite its modest height. The views looking south from its viewpoint are dominated by the Derwent Fells, the Borrowdale Fells, and the Helvellyn range surrounding the foreground of Keswick and Derwent Water.
The water situation was desperate at this point. I’d just drunk the last of what I had left and needed more. I descended Latrigg on its west side until I met the Cumbria Way long distance footpath. I followed this south beyond my planned turning and over the bridge into Keswick. My main objective now was to find the Co-op, which I achieved after only a short time. I bought 4 drinks… 2 I’d drunk before I even left the car park, the other 2 I stuck in my bag. I had a quick chat with one of the locals who informed me that this was the hottest day that Keswick had ever seen, or at least in his lifetime anyway. He informed me that it was around 33 degrees centigrade at the moment. What a day to go Wainwright bagging!
I backtracked over the bridge and took the turning that led me across pasture at a nice easy low level towards Applethwaite, before walking the remainder of the way long the road. I was really looking forward to getting back to the car and was disappointed to find my car had heated up so much inside that I could have baked a pizza in there. Luckily there was The Old Sawmill Tearoom at the other end of the car park and so I indulged myself with ice cream whilst the car cooled down.
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