Dunnerdale Fells from Ulpha Bridge

Stickle Pike

This is a fairly easy walk in one of the quietest of the Lake District's hidden gems, the Duddon Valley. The Duddon Valley doesn't boast huge mountains and hoards of people. Instead the Duddon Valley is beautiful, peaceful and has lots of good hill walking routes that will find you far away from the usual hustle and bustle of the popular parts of the Lake District. The walk starts from Ulpha Bridge over the River Duddon at Ulpha village. This route takes you to the summit of Stickle Pike, a pointy little hill with the most amazing panoramic views of the Duddon Valley, the central and southern fells and south to the Duddon Estuary. The route passes Stickle Tarn where you can spend hours in the most incredibly idyllic surroundings without hearing or seeing another person for hours. After Stickle Pike a walk across the wild fell to Great Stickle and its summit trig point before descending through thick bracken paths back to the River Duddon and Ulpha Bridge.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from Ulpha Bridge at grid reference SD 196 930. Ulpha Bridge is a lovely stone arch crossing the River Duddon at the quaint village of Ulpha. To reach Ulpha Village you must either approach from the north where Ulpha is a few miles south of the village of Seathwaite or come from the south after turning right off the A595 trunk road at Duddon Bridge and reaching Ulpha after a several miles. There is plenty of off road parking around the bridge and a few places in the village.
  2. From Ulpha Bridge head south up the road ignoring the road leading to the school on the left. Instead take a rougher track to the left a hundred metres up the road. Ascend this track towards Birks House.
  3. When you reach the back of the Birks House follow the footpath that ascends to the right round the top edge of Birks Wood, now on the left. After a steep and rough start the path eventually flattens out and takes a much steadier route with fantastic views now opening up to the left over the Duddon Valley.
  4. After an easy ascent you should reach the point where the path crosses Hollow Moss Beck. Cross the beck and then head left back down to the stone wall that skirts the top of the farming fields below.
  5. The path will now edge the stone wall and follow it until it reaches the steep tarmac road at Kiln Bank Cross. When you reach the road turn right and ascend the steep tarmac road for three hundred metres. Here you will see a path go off to the left towards the taller mountain of Caw, instead turn right off the road following the footpath signs to Stickle Pike & Stickle Tarn.
  6. Once on the path off the road, instead of heading across towards the obvious ascent of Stickle Pike, head slightly off to the left and you will eventually reach the pretty shore of Stickle Tarn.
  7. This is one of the most idyllic tarns in the Lake District. It is rarely frequented by tourists and a favourite of locals. The tarn is often teeming with wildlife such as frogs, newts and thousands of dragonflies and damselflies. The tarn is often covered in tall pond grasses and beautiful White Lillie's contrasted in the summer months by the yellow flowers of the Bog Asphodel.
  8. Once you have taken in the tarn head back on yourself slightly then left and you will be able to take on the very steep and short scramble to the summit of Stickle Pike.
  9. The summit of Stickle Pike has a stone cairn. The views from the summit are fantastic on a good day, the Duddon Valley being by far the most captivating with views along it south towards the sea at the Duddon Estuary and north up the valley getting higher all the time and ascending to the dizzy heights of the Scafell range, the highest mountains in England.
  10. Also visible closer by is the bizarre micro landscape of the Dunnerdale Fells with Great Stickle directly to the south and the aptly named Tarn Hill just to its right with its many small tarns. They are small yet very wild hills the Dunnerdale Fells and once you are in them they seem a lot more vast than they seem on the map.
  11. Great Stickle is the next target and below from Stickle Pike you should see the obvious path that crosses the fell towards its general direction. To descend from Stickle Pike you can take the path back down towards Stickle Tarn then meet the path to Great Stickle at the bottom of the steep initial descent then head right round Stickle Pike. Or if you are feeling slightly more adventurous there is a quick scramble down its steep south eastern edge straight to the path.
  12. Follow the path across open fell and keep an eye out for the local birds of prey. When I did this walk we watched in awe at a Peregrine Falcon diving in the skies above the cliffs to the right at the far north end of Tarn Hill. The path will head south first crossing Hare Hell Beck and then turning left then right beside the marshy area at the head of Red Moss Beck.
  13. Now ascend straight up to the obvious high point above you eventually reaching it at the trig point pillar on Great Stickle. Again this summit also gives great views, in particular those south to the Duddon Estuary.
  14. To descend from Great Stickle head south west then south heading downhill on a fairly obvious path until you get to a flat area with a strange little rocky knoll sticking out in front. At this point turn right now heading in a westerly direction and picking up the bridleway.
  15. After about half a kilometre you should reach a point where a path goes left and another heads right through some rocks. Turn right and descend on the bridleway in to Black Stones. The bridleway passes through some thick bracken and crosses a few streams on it descent on its way to the tarmac road below by the River Duddon.
  16. When you finally reach the tarmac road turn right and follow the road all the way back to Ulpha Bridge where you left it earlier. In the quieter seasons the River Duddon here is absolutely a must see as it has a few interesting spots near the road and by the bridge.
  17. There is no better way to end this walk than a visit to the Newfield Inn in Seathwaite, just a few miles north from Ulpha. It is a very friendly and cosy pub with excellent food and drink and a place to stay if you don't feel like rushing home from this stunning and peaceful part of the world.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL6 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 96 Map Click to buy Harvey Super Walker Lakeland South West Map Click to buy Harvey Lake District Mountain Map

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.