We had wanted to attempt some of the higher fells around Keswick for some time now and after checking the weather saw that we had a nice hot day ahead of us. The aim of this walk was to complete as many wainwrights in a loop as we could (without doing a crazy long walk), and the main peak was Skiddaw, as you still see below we decided once we got close to Skiddaw that the cloud covered peak could wait for a clearer day but we still managed to bag four wainwrights here.
We parked on Dodd forest car park and headed off right away to Dodd, we were guided here by markers as there was forestry work going on and specific areas to avoid, we followed up the winding path getting great views out over the two lakes as well as the mountain range opposite. As we Zig Zagged up the mountain we got higher and higher and the views got better and better. As we neared the top, we found a little seat that we sat on and grabbed a bit of juice before turning around and heading directly up Dodd. The views on this fell are spectacular, similar to Latrigg in that it's separate from the other mountains so you get a magnificent view of the surrounding lakes, fells and villages, on a sunny day it would be hard to top the view.
Once we had taken in the views, we returned down towards the seat the same way we came up, but then veered off to the left. This lead up down the side off Dodd but kept us in line with Carl side, upon reaching the lower part of this path there is a stile you can move over which takes you onto the climb towards white stones, an obvious point when climbing carl side. This is a steady climb, if not a little steep on one side, at one point there was also a section of rock we had to scramble over, but aside from that it was steady going. Once at grey stones we decided to shelter for a little as the wind had picked up, but eventually moved onto the main path that climbs carl side.
This section is much steeper than earlier, and much longer but again with some persistence it isn't the hardest round and there are a few stepped sections to help with the climb. Resting every now and then makes it a much easier climb. Once at the top, we could clearly see that Skiddaw wasn’t going to clear today, so settled on moving across to Long side, the views at this point are fantastic and on a sunny day you can see for miles. You can easily pick out peaks surrounding you as well as lakes on two sides.
Eventually we moved across the ridge towards Long Side, this is a very easy and wide ridge (although from lower down it may not seem like it) so moving across is easy enough and the views are fantastic due to the valley one side and the wide-open range out to Derwent water on the other. As you move long the peak you move up and down, but down mostly which allows for a slow decline down towards Ullock pike. Due to the ridge moving parallel with Bassenthwaite lake which again allows for some amazing views with the lake to the left and the valley still to the right, but this time in front of you is Binsey and the Scottish border, as well as some of the early Scottish mountains on a clear day.
A small climb back up to Ullock pike completes the climbing before a nice gradual stroll down the ridge all the way to the bottom, it's quite possibly one of the easiest climbs down we have done considering the high you reach at Carl Side (or skiddaw if you manage it!). Once at the bottom, it's pretty straight forward, head to the left towards Bassenthwaite lake and then follow the bottom of the ridge around, eventually there is a turning to the right through the wall that takes you into some woodland. If you are lucky enough, there is a path leading all the way back to Dodd from here (we got half way along and found signs stopping us due to logging) so we headed back, down towards the road and followed a path that runs parallel with the road all the way back to Dodd car park.
All in all, it's a great walk, it managed to get us 4 wainwrights, but 5 wouldn’t have been much harder on a clear day at the top. The walk gets a lot of height quickly, but then allows for a much easier route down. Views all around are fantastic and you are not too far from Keswick at the finish if you need a pint!