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North of Skiddaw lies an area of high moors and rolling hills. Bleak and lonely – these fells do not attract the crowds as do their southern neighbours. Great sweeps of open fells dominate the landscape relieved only by the becks. Penetrating this wilderness is a bridleway that skirts the eastern flanks of Lonscale Fell and then heads northwest over Burnt Hause and around the back of Skiddaw. By heading out around the side of Latrigg from Keswick and then following this bridleway it is possible to make a complete tour of Skiddaw over good tracks with well-graded ascent and take in some spectacular scenery. Terrain: Stony, well-graded bridleways and tracks over open moorland and low fells. The return is along roads.
Keswick - Skiddaw House - Keswick
5 - 6 hours
1. Head NW then NE out of Keswick on the A5271 to the A66 roundabout. Negotiate the roundabout (with care as it is very busy) and take the second exit (A591). Immediately after leaving the roundabout take the minor road on the right to Ormathwaite. Continue up past Ormathwaite to a junction. Turn R up the steep road to the car park on the N side of Latrigg.
2. From the car park follow the bridleway for Skiddaw next to a fence and wall until it splits at a gate. Take the R branch which crosses Whit Beck in a sheltered ravine and then traverses Lonscale Fell. Until this point the going has been easy but it all changes once Lonscale Crags are rounded. The once broad track narrows to a terrace high amongst the crags providing some testing riding! The terrace contours the steep slope for 1.6km, and is followed until it meets another bridleway from Blease Fell. Continue N across the moor slowly gaining height until after 800m Burnt Horse is reached. At this point the route heads NW, crossing a beck and peat hags (boggy) with a final short climb up to Skiddaw House.
3. From Skiddaw House follow the service track that runs NW across the flanks of Great Calva and Little Calva easily to a ford and footbridge. The track climbs steadily for 800m until a beck is crossed, and then descends, giving 800m freewheeling to a hairpin bend and bridge. Downstream of the bridge in a gorge is the Whitewater Dash waterfall – well worth a look especially after heavy rainfall.
4. The track continues to descend steeply at first, and can clearly be seen contouring below the spectacular Dead Crags, which drop abruptly from Bakestall. Exciting riding leads to the road at Peter House Farm; turn left and follow it 3.2km through Melbecks and join the A591. Head S towards Keswick for 4.8km and then take the Millbeck and Applethwaite road which after another 4.8km and a steep road climb leads back to the car park at Latrigg.
5. From the back of the car park (gate with sign warning cyclists about cross track gutters) join the Latrigg Bridleway and follow its twisting course SW to cross over the A66 (bridge). This section of the route can be busy with walkers so take care. Join the road at Briar Rigg and follow it SE (L) to a sharp bend by the swimming pool. Continue round the bend and follow the road into Keswick past Fitz Park.