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Pleasant lanes lead easily out of Threlkeld and into the dramatically shaped valley carved by Glenderaterra Beck. From then on you are submerged amongst the lonely fells at the back of Skiddaw. This wild and woolly corner of the Lake District is in real contrast to the rest of the fells and mountains, being of more moderate rolling slopes and lacking steep crags and gills. The splendidly lofty position of Skiddaw's summit soon re-introduces you to the classic Lakeland scene as the views from its trig point take in almost every significant peak.
An easier alternative to Skiddaw is to take the old railway line path through Keswick from Threlkeld to join up with the Allerdale Ramble which can then be followed to Portinscale.
Before setting off please make sure you plot the suggested route on OS maps and pack a compass. They are essential for a safe, enjoyable day in the hills!
Threlkeld - Portinscale
6 - 7 hours
1. Arrive at the Horse and Farrier, a traditional Lakeland Inn built in 1688 with slate flagged floors, beamed ceiling and open fires. Take in the stunning views and head inside to enjoy a satisfying pint of Jennings Bitter, the original beer to come from the famous local brewery and 'Champion Beer of the North West 2009'.
2. From the Horse and Farrier walk through the village to join the minor road to Middle Row and the Blencathra Centre. Continue on the road above the centre and pick-up the bridleway at the west end of the car park. Follow the bridleway as it climbs easily west then north above the deeply-cut valley of Glenderaterra Beck. Near the head of the beck the bridleway crosses it and climbs steeply to join the Lonscale Fell Bridleway.
3. Turn right onto the bridleway and follow it around the broad shoulder of Burnt Horse to Skiddaw House. From the back of the plantation climb the path over Sale How to the fence on the east side of Skiddaw. At the fence join the main bridleway and follow it through the gate as it heads along the summit crest to Skiddaw. Skiddaw's summit can be a bit exposed if it is windy and there is no summit shelter. The secret to Skiddaw's symmetry is in its rocks; they are slates and shales from the Lower Ordovician period which tend to weather and decay in a way that produces uniform terrain.
4. Head back along the summit ridge for 400m to the start of a steep zig-zagging descent path. Descend this path to a flat col. Continue across the col and make the short climb up Carl Side. Whilst only a modest bump on the side of Skiddaw, Carl Side nevertheless gets an entry in Wainwright's famous pictorial guide. This is no doubt due to the spectacular views afforded from its neat summit. Follow the steep broad ridge down to Benny Crag continuing onto the lane at Millbeck.
5. Turn right onto the lane and follow it to the A591, turn left on to A591, after 250m turn right onto a path to High Stock Bridge. Cross the bridge and follow the Allerdale Ramble beside the River Derwent to the A66, then the B5289 into Portinscale to find the Derwent Lodge Hotel.
6. As you approach this traditional Georgian manor house, built in 1780, you are surrounded by superb lake views. Once inside settle in a window seat and take in views of Skiddaw, Cat Bells and Derwentwater as you reward yourself with a refreshing pint of Jennings Cumberland Ale. As you savour the full flavour and delicate hop character you won't be surprised to learn that Cumberland Ale won the silver medal at the 2009 International Beer Awards!