Date: 5 Mar 2020 Weather: 5’C, partly cloudy
Height gain: 1,332 ft Distance: 3.8 miles
Time taken: 2 hours 30 mins Wainwrights: 119 of 214

Route:  From Dodd Wood car park following the logging tracks up through the woods and looping right up the final path to the summit and back the same way.

The seemingly never ending wind and rain has kept us off the hills for nearly a month now since our abandoned mission near the top of Bakestall on 7 February.   Finally sunshine and light winds are forecast so we decide to head towards Bassenthwaite and an ascent of Dodd – a smaller mountain to test out the legs and lungs that have been forced into hibernation for most of the winter.

We last did Dodd nearly 10 years ago in May 2010 on a five peak epic that took in Skiddaw and Skiddaw Little man – I remember barely being able to put one front in front of the other as I made a snails pace up the last of those five peaks but being chuffed with our success at the end of it.  On round two S has a six peak “end to end” walk planned which takes in four of those five peaks but leaves out Dodd so he needs to be tackled on his own this time.

We head into Keswick first to pick up provisions from the bakery – Brysons has been refurbished and looks great – the layout is much better with sandwiches and pasties now on the same side and much more space for the café area.  S goes for his usual pasty and I trust the sales assistant when she says a “tuna savoury” roll doesn’t mean it’s got cheese in it – just tuna, mayo and salad.  A different answer to the Cockermouth store so I hope she’s right.

We set off again and soon find the large national trust care park with its good toilets (clean smelling, soap, hot water and working hand-dryers – full on luxury) and tea room.  The sun shines on us as we put on our boots and pack up the rucksacks and set off across a little bridge to find the wide track uphill.

The first 50 feet are steep as we cross the gill but the track is then a wide road at a reasonable gradient:


We’ve got to a flatter bit by the time I take a picture (honest) – the gradient may not be challenging but our out of condition bodies are huffing and puffing nonetheless.

The striking feature from Wainwright’s chapter on Dodd is all the trees – with Dodd being an innocent party pounced on by the Forestry Commission who have been rampant so that “Dodd would seem more in place in the dense and steaming jungles of the Amazon”.

We know from our previous ascent that Dodd has had some much needed haircuts since AW was last here and the trees are not so dense any more, particularly at the summit.  But just for good measure here’s some trees from the route up:


We huff and puff our way up the road until we reach the col between Dodd and Carl Side (which is towering to our left).  There’s a bench on the edge looking down towards Keswick.  We head to it for a breather and the view that opens out in all directions takes our breath away:


The weather is starting to do strange things with the cloud formations so the views aren’t perfectly clear – in reality it looked more stunning than the photos capture.  We can see Catbells rising to the right of Derwentwater and opening out to the Newlands Horseshoe:


We sit for a while and take it all in – it’s good to know that we can still be taken by surprise after all these years.  We must have passed this point on our walk in 2010 but I don’t remember this stunning viewpoint.

As we sit a couple catches us up – we stop and chat and they tell us they drove up from South Wales yesterday and are spending three days in Keswick before carrying on the Scotland to see family.  We tell them they’ve been exceptionally lucky with the weather given what the last few weeks have been like.  They are following a trail which takes in Dodd which their guide book says will take three hours – they seem to want lots of reassurance about the likely timing as they’re concerned that the tea room closes at 4pm.  We reassure them they’ll be fine.

We set off again and leave them to enjoy the views.  The final summit path takes us to the right and a little more steeply for the last 300 feet but it doesn’t take long to reach the top:


The views are great in all directions.  Happily no “leaping up in the air and miscellaneous gyrations not normally indulged in by people in their right senses” is required to enjoy them now that the trees have gone.

The cloud is closing in a bit more but this just added to the atmosphere on the hillside.  Good views north west over Bassenthwaite Lake:


In the opposite direction more views over Derwentwater with Catbells prominent to the right with the snow-capped Scafell range just visible in the distance:


Carl Side towers to the north east with Skiddaw and Skiddaw Little Man peeking out behind – quite glad we’re not heading up there today:


To the south-west is Causey Pike, Eel Crag, Sail and Grisedale Pike:


And finally to the south east we can see a snowy Helvellyn range:


After making ourselves dizzy taking photos from every degree on the compass we settle ourselves down on the grass for some lunch.  S’s pasty is its usual passable self and happily the tuna savoury has no cheese in it – less happily the only salad seems to be ten tonnes of red onion which no doubt I’ll still be tasting when I go to bed tonight.

Once we’ve finished our leisurely lunch we start to retrace our steps for the easy descent on the firm tracks, varying the route a little by taking the road to the right of Skill Beck this time.  There are plenty of signposts to keep us on track:


There are quite a few people enjoying tea and scones outside the tea room as we pass it on the way to the car but we don’t stop as we’re still full of lunch.

It’s been so good to get up a mountain again, even if a small one and even if we huffed and puffed more than we would have done last Autumn.  The views were wonderful and we were fully able to appreciate them by doing Dodd on his own this time around.

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