DODD (LORTON), HOPE GILL, LADYSIDE PIKE & SWINSIDE

 


Summary

Date - 2nd May 2011 Distance - 5 miles
Ascent -
2000ft (appx)
Map - OL4 Start point - Above the gate on the little road behind Hopebeck (NY 169242)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Dodd (Lorton) 1489 454 NY 1690 2306
Ladyside Pike 2306 703 NY 1849 2274
Swinside 1670 509 NY 1766 2391

 

Preface

Allen, Grizzly & Tetley, were whiling away the afternoon reading some of Dad's many books on the Lake District, when Allen glanced up at the clock. "It's just after 3 o'clock, so time for tea and biscuits."

"Too true", replied Grizzly, "I'm gasping."

Right on cue, Shaun came trotting in with Little Eric riding on his back. "I've brought the flasks of tea. Get the tuck tin, Allen."

"OK pal", he replied.

The mugs filled, we all sat contentedly to drink our tea and enjoy a chocolate biscuit or two.

"That was some walk last Sunday up into Eskdale", remarked Little Eric. "Hard going for Dad as there were no proper paths and all the ascents were particularly steep."

"You're right, but at least that group is done and finally out of the way", replied Tetley.

"The good thing too, it was 5 summits and 20% of our outstanding Birketts in one go", added Shaun.

"Dad seems to be keen to walk again this Sunday, and I have been looking at the outstanding list and I wondered about suggesting the Ladyside Pike walk, as that would get another three done", mused Grizzly.

"That sounds a great idea and one of the few areas of Lakeland we have never walked in before", enthused Allen. "I'll have a look at the forecast for Sunday", he went on booting up Dad's laptop and tapping away on the keyboard. Frowning slightly he said, "it is to be dry and sunny, but the winds are forecast to be extremely strong with gusts over 60mph above 700m."

"We will get up to that level, so it will be rather unpleasant at times, so we better make sure Dad knows that when you go and ask him, Allen", said Shaun.

"Why is it always me?", said Allen.

"Because you are very persuasive, and Dad rarely has the heart to refuse", replied Shaun.

"OK, once I have finished my tea, I will trot off and ask.", agreed Allen.

A few minutes later he returned, smiling, so we knew the walk was on.

"Dad's agreed, but he has told me we need to be up early, as it is a long drive", said Allen. "And yes, I did tell him about the strong winds that are forecast."

 

The Walk

Sunday dawned, and as Dad had instructed we were up early, to get the picnic ready and packed into Allen's rucksack.

Tetley said, "I sometimes think that I should carry the rucksack for a change to give you a rest Allen."

"Thanks for the offer pal, but the straps are not big enough for you to get it on you back. Anyway I don't mind as we are mostly in Dad's rucksack on the walks."

We heard the boot slam shut, so knew that Dad was ready for the off, so we dashed out to settle in the car, calling our goodbyes to Uncle Brian.

Shaun, our route finder had been looking closely at the map, and said, "the start is behind the fells to the west of Whinlatter Pass, so our route will be north on the M6, then west along the A66, a route we have taken countless times to the starts of many walks."

The day was glorious with cloudless blue skies. However the calm conditions had slipped away, and as forecast, the east wind was extremely fierce and gusty, so much so that it blew Dad over once.

When he mentioned this later, Uncle Brian said, "it really must have been strong to do that."

Blencathra looked stunning, and as we approached Keswick, the views were stupendous of the Coledale Fells, and those above Derwentwater, and in the Newlands Valley.

Through the village of Braithwaite, we headed up Whinlatter Pass, where beyond the summit a narrow road forks off left. Dad's car almost completely filled the road, so we were relieved not to meet anything coming in the opposite direction, as there were no passing places. At the next junction we went left towards High Swinside Farm. A section is gated and Dad parked in the small rough car park just above the second gate.

While Dad got his boots on, we sat patiently looking across to the view ahead. This shot was in fact taken near the end of the walk, but illustrates almost exactly what we could see. In the background is Whiteside, but of more import today is the summit to the right - Dodd (Lorton). The bracketed name is included to distinguish it from its namesake above Bassenthwaite Lake.

"I can't see any real sign of a path to the summit, and the upper slopes look hard going", said Little Eric.

"There is a dotted path marked on the map, which is what we need to follow according to Birkett, until shortly after a ruined building, when we cut up through the steep heathery slopes to the summit", replied Shaun. "Looks like we will be continuing where we left off on the last walk with steep ascents on pretty trackless ground."

"Well Lads, it has to be climbed, so the sooner we get going the sooner the summit will be reached", said Dad

Not needing a second asking, we immediately settled in Dad's rucksack. Starting off we climbed the slope and then went right round the corner of the wall and followed along by it.

"What are those fells across the valley?", asked Little Eric.

"The Fellbarrow group", replied Grizzly.

"Although we have only visited them once, they hold a special affection to us, because this is where we met Uncle Bob", added Allen. "Had that not happened, we would not have enjoyed his company on Lakeland walks, nor would be have explored so extensively the Yorkshire Dales."

"It nearly didn't", went on Shaun. "Dad attempted to do the walk two weeks earlier. We arrived at the start and it was raining heavily. Dad sat nearly an hour in the hope that it would brighten up, but there was no sign at all. So the walk was abandoned. It was fate, so that we would meet Uncle Bob."

So we strolled on, crossing Hope Beck, then took a vague path right over the lower slopes of Dodd. The path was intermittent and hard to follow, so Dad climbed steeply right over grass to gain height. The grass gave way to thick heather concealing rocks. No path whatsoever here, so Dad just had to plough his way through to eventually gain the top ridge of the fell.

"Phew", said Dad with feeling. "I'm glad that climb is behind us!"

Here a tiny path through the heather led right to a large cairn. The wind was blowing fiercely, but we managed to sit in the lee of the cairn for our picture.

Looking south, Shaun remarked, "the ground is higher over there, and looking at the map, I reckon that is the actual summit."

"I agree", replied Dad.

Eager to reach it, we settled quickly in his rucksack, and Dad walked the 100 yards or so to where a tiny cairn marks the summit. The wind again was ferocious here and there was a steep drop just yards to the right.

"I know you like to have your picture at the summit, but if I get you out here, you will be blown over the edge", said Dad.

Tetley replied, "as you quite rightly say, it is far too dangerous here. We are content with the picture at the larger cairn, and after all, we have reached the highest point."

"Where now?", asked Little Eric.

Shaun replied, "we have to descend to the Hope Gill valley, the head right up the gill."

"Oh dear, we have to lose so much height, to then climb again", replied Little Eric, disconsolately.

"Never mind lad", said Dad. "The other alternative would be to make the round via Whiteside, but I do not fancy it in this wind."

So we set off, through the heather on the upper slopes and then quite steeply down over the grass, to finally cross the gill and gain the good path in the valley, where we turned right. Our route lay up the valley, that narrowed into a ravine further up, as can be seen in the picture below. Ultimately we were to walk to just beyond where the heather ended, then turning up left to climb to the ridge near the pointed rock, known as the Pinnacle. The dominant fell in the centre is Hopegill Head (2525ft). We had stood on its summit last August, in the company of Uncle Eric.

The going was easy for a while, on the good path, and even where the bank had fallen away obliterating the path, a new path had been blazed by crossing the gill and then recrossing a bit further up. On this section the hillside was covered in heather and beyond where it ended all was grassy. Here, the path climbed steeply away from the gill through the last vestiges of the heather and on to the grassy slope. Now the real hard work started up the very steep slope. The wind seemed to swirl around too. It was mainly coming from the right, but then suddenly it gusted in from the left. One particularly strong gust blew Dad off his feet. It was a good job we were tightly snuggled in his rucksack. Not surprisingly, Dad had to pause on the ascent at times to catch his breath, and on one such occasion he took this shot looking back.

Dodd can be seen centre left, with the Fellbarrow group behind. The immediate lowlands are the Vale of Lorton. Beyond the landscape stretches away to the Solway Firth, rather lost in the haze.

The breather over Dad said, "time to get going again up to that ridge."

Just below the wind eased somewhat, but we knew that as soon as we topped the ridge, the full force would be directly in Dad's face. The low remains of the fell wall had to be crossed to reach the path, and Dad timed it to when the wind dropped a bit, to avoid being blown over again. A number of times he just had to stand using his stick as a prop to stop being bowled over! Turning left, the ridge soon led up to the summit of Ladyside Pike. There are two cairns, the one to the south being at the highest point.

We scrambled out on the lee side of the cairn, Allen calling out, "come on Dad take our picture please."

The ridge that can be seen rising behind leads to Grisedale Pike, and distantly, top left, is Blencathra.

"Time for lunch", called out Shaun.

"OK" replied Dad. "Lets walk a few yards beyond the second cairn and sit in that hollow below the ruined wall, out of the wind."

A lady who had climbed at the same time was sitting there too. She came from near Workington. Dad chatted with her for a few minutes, before she set off down. We sat a while longer, with the lovely views to enjoy, before hopping into the rucksack ready for the off.

"That's a nice view of the Skiddaw fells", said Grizzly.

"Sure is pal", replied Tetley. "Make a good picture to include in the story."

"I get the hint", said Dad, hauling the camera out of its bag.

In the foreground is Hobcarton End. One of our outstanding Birkett summits. It rises from Whinlatter Pass, and beyond the ridge leads to Grisedale Pike.

So now followed the steep descent on the right of the ruined wall. Just before the corner, this was crossed. The gradient had eased, and we continued ahead by the wall/fence to make the rather gentle climb to Swinside (the name probably means the sheiling or hill for pig grazing). Its summit is in the corner of the junction of a wall with the fence. The only reason we knew it was the summit, was by comparing our position to the spot height on the map. Looking back the views were quite dramatic to Ladyside Pike and Hopegill Head.

Then we settled by the wall for our picture.

As descended on beside the wall, to our left the Vale of Lorton was spread out below. The village of Lorton can be seen.

Some of our lovely Herdwicks were grazing on the slopes. Dad has asked nicely, so we have agreed to include this photograph.

We followed the descent, as the wall turned left. This last section was exceedingly steep.

"Glad I'm not having to climb up this section". Dad remarked.

Just above the road a narrow trod was followed left to the start.

Although not a long walk, the climbs had been steep and the very strong winds had not helped either. Still, that is another three of our outstanding Birketts ticked off, and another corner of Lakeland that we had not been to before, explored.

Finally we all say, "thanks once again Dad for a good day out."

To avoid returning along that narrow road, Dad continued through the adjacent gate, then through Hopebeck and on to Lorton, and so over Whinlatter Pass. Tea and cakes were on the agenda for Dad now. He had planned to stop at the Forest Park Visitor Centre, but being Bank Holiday and judging by the cars parked on the road, it appeared to be very busy, so instead he went to one of his favourite cafes, Greystone House at Stainton. After tea with extra hot water, chocolate cake and trio of tray bakes (small pieces), he was suitably refreshed for the easy drive home.

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