Skiddaw : The Lake District

by | Feb 4, 2020 | Go Outside, The Lake District, Walking

Route Information

An out-and-return circular walk Via YHA Skiddaw Bunkhouse

Route Difficulty: Medium

Distance: 15.33 km (9.58 miles)

Route Elevation: 931 m

Route Ascent: 919 m

Route Time: 4-7 hrs

Start and Finish: Underskiddaw Car Park, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4PH

Depending on the featured walk and especially in mountainous areas, you may need to Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in to your own pace.


There are no toilets at this facility and during the summer months there is a mobile coffee van on site.

For pubs and places to eat arount Keswick visit TripAdvisor. For more information have a look at their website 


The scree run down from Skiddaw to Carl Side can look a little hair rasing and possibly the only note of caution along this route. 

The Urban Ranger Website cannot outline every single hazard on a walk – it’s up to you to be safe and competent, and to be able to read a map and use a compass. Plan your route properly with the latest advice from the AdventureSmart website

Public Transport

Traveline for UK Public Transport

Weather Forecast

MWIS Mountain Weather Lake District


This alternative route of Skiddaw takes you along the Cumbria Way before ascending Sale How to reach the summit of Skiddaw.

Ever wanted to climb a mountain but uncertain of your ability and what is required to accomplish such a task? look no further than Skiddaw. Rising majestically to the north of Keswick and dominating the skyline of the northern lakes, this is the ideal place to bag your first mountain.

With a variety of different well-trodden paths up to the summit, Skiddaw is possibly the safest place to advance your walking skills and if you are lucky enough on a good day, you will experience some of the best views imaginable.

Standing at 3,045ft, Skiddaw is the fourth highest mountain in England. And lies just north of the town of Keswick. 

Within walking distance of Keswick, the good thing about Skiddaw is you do not need a vehicle or public transport to climb the fourth highest mountain in England. You can follow the Cumbria Way up past Latrigg to Under Skiddaw car park to start your walk from there. There is also a route from Millbeck Farm in Applethwaite. This route however is the most demanding and will take you up the tricky slate path just past Carl Side.

This alternative walk up Skiddaw offers a gradual ascent to the top and a steep but relatively easy descent. My route starts from Under Skiddaw car park and follows the path until you reach a folk, heading left at the folk will take you on a steep climb up to Little Man. This is the most favoured tourist route, but our route will head straight on from the folk until the path reaches Whit Beck.

From the beck head around Lonscale Fell at around 350 meters high and follow the Cumbria Way heading in the direction of Great Calva. Below you will see Glenderaterra Beck and if you look to your right you will be able to see the back end of Blencathra.

You will leave the Cumbria Way once you reach the most remote hostel in the country, otherwise known as Skiddaw House, which is run and owned by the YHA. After passing the hostel you will see a path to your left that takes you on a gradual climb past Grouse Butts to Sale How. This is the path you will take and, on my visit, it was rather wet and boggy, possibly due to the recent snow.

The path is well defined and is very wide and mainly grass, but it does start to get steep and you will soon find your blood pumping. At this point you will have a direct view of both Skiddaw to your right and Little Man to your left. Follow the path until you reach a gate on your right which will then lead you up on to the summit of Skiddaw. After the gate the path turns to shale and there are cairns to guide you, but it is straight forwards.

The summit of Skiddaw is very wide and you do not have to worry about ridges and the possibility of falling off into the abyss like some other fells in the lakes. If the weather is clear like it was for me then you will be treated to some amazing views of Derwent Water & Bassenthwaite Lake. If you know where you are looking you will also see Helvellyn, Great Gable and Scafel Pike just to name a few. The weather was so good on my visit i could see Dumfries & Galloway.

After a 15-minute break at the summit admiring the views it was time to start my descent via Carl Side. This part can be confusing so make sure you look for the first set of stone cairns to your right. As you head down the path you will quickly notice how steep it is and be glad you are walking down it rather than climbing up. If you are uncertain about these types of descent, always lean into the fell side and keep away from the edges in case of slips and trips. Although it looks more challenging than it is, you will soon be descending over 300 meters very quickly.

Once you reach Carl Side Tarn you are over the worst of the descent and from this point the path becomes easy to navigate and you will be more focused on the amazing views in front of you. I stopped at White Stones for a good 15 minutes rest and just soaked up the sunshine and admired the views. The thing for me is taking notice of your surroundings and being mindful and experiencing that moment.

From White Stones i then headed down what is known as the Doups towards Benny Crag. At this point you will find yourself in what looks like farm land and most probably is. Follow the well-defined path and it will lead you to a gate and a little pathway, which will lead you back onto the main road.

Depending how you set about your walk will determine which path you take back to your original starting point. If like me you parked at Under Skiddaw car park you will follow the road for a good mile back to the car park. If you walked from Keswick then there is a path from Applethwaite or the Cumbria Way from Under Skiddaw.

All in all, a great alternative route up to the summit which was very peaceful and i saw very few people until i reached Skiddaw. At 15K some might be put off walking this far, but given the scenery it soon passes and you will have spent around 4 hours walking with mother nature’s finest.

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