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Visitors to Keswick would fail to miss the majestic bulk that is Skiddaw. It stands proudly and in all its glory, surveying the land around it, like a sentinel guarding the people of Northern Lakes. This makes it different from the Lakes' other Three Thousanders (mountains over three thousand feet in height, of which there are four), that it is so easily seen.
The other three are not as well spotted as Skiddaw. Scafell Pike and Scafell are shy, rarely seen from the areas nearby and it is by heading their way on foot that their features comes into view. Helvellyn is the same, although the slopes are vividly seen from the A591.
One fails not to spot Skiddaw, even though many of Keswick's visitors might well not known its name. Children throwing skimmers into Derwent Water with its shadow before them, wanderers roaming the streets of Keswick, looking in shop windows, chewing chips, eating ice creams, eyes wandering towards that bulk.
It is a mountain, it looks like a mountain, and this area looks alpine, a mountainous capsule.
And because Keswick and the surrounding area is so beautiful, people come and see it for themselves. This visit may well involve a trip up a nearby mountain (Cat Bells is a favourite), or to Skiddaw for the more adventurous. Not that it is a hard mountain to climb. Although it is high (3053'), it is grassy with smooth slopes, and there are no dangerous crags or ridges, as per the other three thousanders.
Taking a look at Skddaw
Taking a look at Skiddaw, there are four other mountains (Wainwrights) which form its bulk, with Skiddaw the most central and highest. Ullock Pike, Long Side, Carl Side and Little Man are the others. The shaggy Dodd is a fifth, but that is smaller and similar to a cheeky terrier dog next to a few St Bernards...
So, how does one get to see or climb Skiddaw? Motorway drivers need to take the M6, then turn off onto the A66 to Keswick, not that one needs to climb it from here. A walker can take paths from Basenthwaite if they wish. From Keswick it is a five and half mile walk, passing Jenkin Hill and Little Man on the way.
It is a plod, but the views are well worth it. It is a work-out, many steep bits, but a stop for a breath and a drink and a view of Derwent Water or Basenthwaite Lake makes one forget about such trivial things.
This popular walk begins from Keswick railway station and up Spooney Green Lane and one can take in the summit of Latrig on the way. This path can be gained from the top of Gale Road to cut the walk's distance a little bit. This is an old path that has widened somewhat over the years, especially the further up you go.
Apparently, Skiddaw is one of the oldest mountains in England, and the summit is covered with a brittle marine rock and slate, whereas most of the other mountains nearby were formed through volcanic rock. A trig point marks the top, with several shelters and cairns nearby. On a good day one can expect views of the Northern Pennines, nearby Blencathra, Helvellyn, Bassenthwaite Lake, The Isle of Mann, Solway Firth and the hills of Galloway.
I have climbed Skiddaw at least three times, most recently earlier this year (2009). I like this mountain a lot, it is one that has grown on my over the years. When I first climbed it it one of the Wainwrights to 'bag,' but now I have grown to respect it and the vast area around it. I enjoy the challenge it has to offer, and the wonderful scenery that is in abundance.
Safety on the hills
Before venturing out to climb such a mountain, be aware that the weather can change the further up you go. In a ruck sack, take waterproofs with you, plus plenty of food and liquid. Have a decent map and compass - and know how to use them! Wear good boots. Be sensible!