Height: 2077', (633m)
Grid reference: NY312292
Of the 214 fells that AW selected for his books, probably the most bizarre choice was
Mungrisdale Common. It is only a spot height on the map, and on the ground it has no
perceptible loss of height to the east. This is the direction I first 'climbed' it from,
and it was downhill all the way. (Purists may consider this as cheating). Admittedly,
there were less fells for Wainwright to choose from in this area, but he could have
included Great Lingy Hill or Lowthwaite Fell, both Matterhorn-shaped when compared to
The general lack of landmark features in this area means that a fairly insignificant
outcrop of rock, the Cloven Stone gets a mention on the OS map. It offers a little shelter
in bad weather.
Mungrisdale Common is the broad grassy hill in the
of the photograph. Skiddaw House can be seen on the left.
Skiddaw may be the easiest of the English 3000 footers to climb. Its close proximity to
Keswick and its wide track to the summit, easy to follow even by moonlight, has made the
mountain one of the most popular in the Lake District. Though it has none of the obvious
dangers of the other 3000 footers, (such as crags and steep gullies and the like), Skiddaw
shouldn't be underestimated. It's exposed summit can suffer arctic conditions in winter,
and even in summer there are often gales blowing up there.
The finest routes to the top are probably from the north. From Bassenthwaite, there is
Longside Edge, a fairly narrow ridge which traverses two other Wainwrights, Ullock Pike and Longside, (and passes very close to a
third, Carl Side). Another
interesting route visits Dash Falls, before following a fence south west above Dead Crags
and on over Bakestall.
To the east of the mountain lies Skiddaw Forest, a vast area of moorland, bare of any
trees except for a small copse of pine planted as a windbreak for the remote Skiddaw
House. Formerly inhabited by shepherds, this terrace of cottages, which wouldn't look out
of place in the centre of Keswick, is now a youth hostel, and one of the most remote
habitations in England. Apart from supply vehicles, the house can only be reached on foot,
but once there Skiddaw can be climbed quite easily, a route which traverses the minor
summit of Sale How (2185').
The summit of Skiddaw forms a ridge, about a half mile long, with four distinct tops.
The second top travelling northwards could be mistaken for the summit in mist as there is
a substantial shelter there. However, the true summit (known as High Man) can easily be
identified as there are two pillars there. One is a standard Ordnance Survey trig station,
the other smaller one is topped by a steel circular plate engraved with a diagram of the
summit views. This was placed here to commemorate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, and
consequently is not mentioned in the Wainwright guide published 15 years earlier.
To the south of the summit ridge is another distinctive peak, Skiddaw Little Man, to
which Wainwright devoted a separate chapter, although it would be unusual to climb Little
Man without visiting Skiddaw's summit.
SKIDDAW LITTLE MAN
Height: 2837', (865m)
Grid Ref: NY 267278
The undulating ridge which is topped by High Man, Skiddaw's summit, drops into a deep
col before rising again to another well defined peak. This is Skiddaw Little Man. Though
it is usually reached by people making a small detour on the descent from the parent fell,
Little Man has several direct routes from valley level, including a fine scramble up an
arete from the south west described by Wainwright.
The summit ridge continues southwards to another small peak, Skiddaw Lesser Man, which
still possesses the cairn made up of rocks and old iron posts, as illustrated by
Height: 1713', (522m) (Wainwright has the summit as 1680')
Grid Ref: NY 355292
Souther Fell, the most easterly of the Northern Fells, forms a long ridge connected to
Blencathra by a small col, from which it is often reached. The other main route of ascent
suggested by Wainwright from Mungrisedale village is not a right of way its initial
stages. However, access to the open fell can be gained a few hundred yards to the south at
Low Beckside (NY 364297).
The summit ridge is about a mile long, the highest point being marked by a few stones,
(hardly a cairn), on a slight rise towards the northern end of the fell.
Souther Fell's main claim to fame is the oft-repeated story of how on Midsummer Eve,
1745, an army complete with horses and carriages where seen traversing its summit ridge.
This was not the first time such a phenomenon had been seen on the fell, for there had
been reports of at least two similar sightings some years earlier, and both on separate
Midsummer Eves. However, the event of 1745 was witnessed by at least twenty six people who
were prepared to sign an affidavit in front of a magistrate. Investigating the summit the
day after the sighting, the local people found neither a footprint or hoof-mark on the
fell. The only explanation that was ever offered was that the sighting was in fact a
mirage of the Prince Charles's Scottish rebels, known to have been training on the western
coast of Scotland that very night. This, however does not explain the earlier sightings.
(A ghostly army was said to have been seen over Helvellyn on the eve of the Battle of
Marston Moor in 1644).
Height: 2270', (692m)
Grid Ref: NY 244288
The summit of Ullock Pike is one of two summits on the narrow ridge which comes down in
a NW direction from Skiddaw. The ridge is known as Longside Edge (the other summit being
Long Side), and it offers one of the finest approaches to Skiddaw. The small neat summit,
carpeted with heather, is a particularly attractive spot for a halt.
At the northern end of the ridge is a spot marked as Watches (1093') on the map.It's
made up of an unusual collection of rocks, reminiscent of a stone circle from some
viewpoints, although it's a natural outcrop.
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