SKIDDAW is a mountain in the
The mountain lends its name to the surrounding areas of ‘Skiddaw Forest’, and ‘Back o' Skidda' ’ and to the isolated ‘Skiddaw House ’, situated to the east, formerly a shooting lodge and subsequently a youth hostel . It also provides the name for the slate derived from that region: Skiddaw slate . Tuned percussion musical instruments or lithophones exist which are made from the slate, such as the Musical Stones of Skiddaw held at the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery .
Sketch map of the
Northern Fells make up a roughly circular upland area approaching
10 miles (16 km) in width. At the centre is the marshy depression of
Skiddaw's slopes are generally rounded and convex, looking from a distance as though a thick velvet blanket has been draped over a supporting frame. On the ridges the general terrain is of loose stones, but elsewhere all is grass and heather. Wainwright noted that "Its lines are smooth, its curves graceful; but because the slopes are steep everywhere, the quick build-up of the “massif” from valley levels to central summit is appreciated at a glance — and it should be an appreciative glance, for such massive strength and such beauty of outline rarely go together."
The bedrock of Skiddaw, commonly known as Skiddaw Slate , is the Kirkstile Formation. This Ordovician rock is composed of laminated mudstone and siltstone with greywacke sandstone. At the summit this is overlain by scree and to the south are areas where the underlying Loweswater Formation surfaces.
The summit ridge bears a number of tops, which from north to south
are known as North Top, High Man (the summit), Middle Top and South
Top. All now bear cairns and a number of stone windshelters have been
The view is as panoramic as might be expected, given Skiddaw's
topographic prominence . From High Man the north east quadrant is
filled by the quiet fells of Back o'Skiddaw, with the Border hills,
the Cheviots and the North
Pennines behind them. To the south east are
Far Eastern Fells and the
Helvellyn range ; behind
these are vistas of the
Yorkshire Dales and
Forest of Bowland . The
Coniston Fells are visible directly to the south. On the other side of
South Top is a fine view of the
Most distant view; Slieve Meelmore in Mourne , 120 miles (190 km) distant.
By moving to South Top a superb view of
Many routes of ascent have been devised for Skiddaw; indeed, it is hard to devise a challenging approach in good conditions. The most popular tourist route starts from Keswick and first ascends behind Latrigg, before the climb continues over the slopes of Little Man to the summit. About 200m of ascent can be saved by driving to the top of Gale Road and beginning from the public carpark just behind the summit of Latrigg.
Another popular route (and the one recommended by Wainwright ) is to
follow Longside Edge, first ascending Ullock Pike, Longside and Carl
Side before making the steep climb up from Carlside Col. Also from the
north, a somewhat tougher alternative is to walk up Buzzard Knott
between Southerndale and Barkbethdale: after crossing to the southern
edge of the shoulder above Randel Crag ascend due east to the summit.
Rather easier than either of these is the compass-walk due south from
Cock Up (505m); reversing this route provides a safe descent,
especially in bad weather. Scramblers may prefer simply to walk up
Southerndale and climb Longside via a distinctive crevice seen easily
From the south-west at Millbeck, Carlside Col can be reached
directly. A start from nearby Applethwaite can also be used to provide
a variation to the tourist route. From the north-west a tough but
picturesque ascent can be made to the northern end of Longside Edge
before following the ridge route to the summit. Finally, ascents from
due east are possible for the walker who first makes for Skiddaw
House, a good distance from either Keswick,
Threlkeld or Peter House.
From the north-east an unmarked but quite easy and fairly well-worn
path starts at Whitewater Dash waterfall (on the Cumbrian Way ) where
the walker can follow the fence (along Birkett Edge just south of Dead
Crags) past the
Bakestall outcrop, and follow the fence until just
before the unnamed top at 831m. From the 831m top, a path leads
The first ascent of
Eilert Ekwall , Skiddaw's name is derived from the Old
Norse elements skyti or skut + haugr meaning either "archer's hill" or
"jutting crag hill". Diana Whaley likewise interprets it as "the
mountain with the jutting crag", but also offers the alternative that
the first element may be a personal name or
Old Norse skítr 'dung,
Richard Coates suggests that "it is possible that a
Below Sale How is
Built around 1829 by the Earl of Egremont it was originally a
keeper's lodge; a base for grouse shooting and for the gamekeepers who
managed the extensive land owned by Egremont in
These arrangements for accommodation continued into the 20th century up until the early 1950s. Several families brought up their children there until they were able to go to school, but the longest tenure was possibly from Pearson Dalton, a shepherd and bachelor from the Caldbeck area, who came to stay for a month in 1952 and left in 1969 aged 75. He lived there alone for five days a week, only going home for long weekends with his sister in Caldbeck, then returning on the Monday to resume his duties. By this time farming practices had changed and the house was no longer needed and declined although there was intermittent use by various schools and outdoor groups. Kitchen range
In 1986 the house was leased by John Bothamley who had created the
* ^ A B C D E F Wainwright, Alfred : A Pictorial Guide to the
Lakeland Fells , Book 5 The Northern Fells: ISBN 0-7112-2458-7
* ^ A B Birkett, Bill: Complete Lakeland Fells: Collins Willow
(1994): ISBN 0-00-713629-3
* ^ Ekwall, E. Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Placenames
Oxford University Press (1960) p. 425
* ^ A B Whaley, Diana (2006). A dictionary of Lake District
place-names. Nottingham: English Place-Name Society. pp. lx,423 p.311.
ISBN 0904889726 .
* ^ A B C "History of