Skiddaw via Little Man


Skiddaw is the fourth highest mountain in England at nine hundred and thirty one metres above sea level. It is also the oldest in the Lake District with geology dating back over four hundred millions years. Most people fall in love with Skiddaw after admiring its iconic pyramid shaped bulk from the popular town of Keswick, at the foot of the mountain. This route takes advantage of the Lattrig car park, already at three hundred metres above sea level, taking away the need to ascend a third of the mountains height. You can also walk this route from Keswick by ascending the Cumbria Way path from Keswick to the Lattrig car park. This route to the summit of Skiddaw is by far the easiest route to the summit of a three thousand foot mountain in England. The route is mostly along an obvious path then a wide track to the summit, making it only moderately difficult in good weather. Skiddaw's exposed position at the northern end of the Lake District does leave it open to the elements. This is a serious mountain with changeable weather conditions at any time of the year. You should always be carrying the right gear and know how to use it, in particular, your map and compass.  A great walk for anyone wanting that three thousand foot mountain experience without the usual difficult ascent. The views from the summit to the 'Back o' Skiddaw' and those on the descent over Derwentwater to the rest of the Lake District National Park are awesome.

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the Latrigg car park at grid reference NY 280 253. The Latrigg car park is at the end of Gale Road, a steep minor road that ascends from the village of Ormathwaite a mile north of Keswick.
  2. To get to Gale Road head to the Crosthwaite roundabout on the A66 trunk road just north of Keswick. From the roundabout take the A591 north sign posted to Carlisle, but almost immediately turn right on to a minor road sign posted to Ormathwaite and Underscar.
  3. Head up this minor road through Ormathwaite until you reach a junction with Gale Road, which switches back to the right quite sharply. At the right junction there is a helpful white sign post that says Skiddaw via Public Footpath. Follow the very steep Gale Road to its end at the Latrigg car park.
  4. Head through the gate at the far end of the car park. Turn left on the path that is sign posted to Jenkin Hill. This is the Cumbria Way path that has come up from Keswick. As said earlier for anyone wanting to do this walk from Keswick they can simply follow the Cumbria Way from Keswick to this point.
  5. After a few hundred metres the paths splits. The Cumbria Way carries on around the mountain on the same contour. Instead turn left and start the ascent of the Jenkin Hill path towards a small stone cross memorial.
  6. The Howell Memorial was built in recognition of three shepherds of the Howell family who worked on Lonscale Fell. There are a few nice sentences to them on the memorial worth reading.
  7. From the Howell Memorial the path now continues on a steep ascent in an erratic zig zag fashion up Jenkin Hill, following the left side of Whit Beck. In places this path can be loose and slippery in wet conditions.
  8. The path levels out, gets wider and a lot easier as it gains height on Jenkin Hill. Eventually the path will reach a wooden gate and stile over a fence. Here the path splits. The main track sign posted to Skiddaw's summit heads over the stile and skirts the eastern side of Little Man.
  9. If you do not wish to bag Little Man then you can follow that main path through the gate or over the stile and avoid Little Man. The paths meet again before the final ascent to Skiddaw's summit.
  10. To go via Little Man, do not head through the gate or over the stile. Instead continue straight on in a north westerly direction on an obvious ascent path. This path is often for some unknown reason not marked on maps.
  11. The path will ascend to the top of what seems like the summit of Little Man, but is in fact another slightly lower summit known as Lesser Man. The summit of Lesser Man has a stone cairn mixed with old metal fence posts.
  12. To reach the summit of Little Man, continue north along the ridge for another two hundred metres. The summit of Little Man has a small cairn of stones. From the summit of Little Man head north to north west along the ridge to reach the main path to Skiddaw's summit that you left earlier.
  13. When you descend Little Man, if the weather is bad and the way ahead not clear, follow the fence to your right until it comes to a right angle. At the right angle turn right with the fence to reach a gate for the path you left earlier. From the gate head left on the obvious path ascending the ridge to Skiddaw's summit.
  14. The track is very wide and obvious as it heads first northwest then directly north straight to the summit of Skiddaw. There are a few false summits. The summit of Skiddaw is a fairly narrow, exposed and rocky ridge.
  15. There a brilliant stone topography topped cairn detailing all the sights in view, the usual Ordnance Survey trig point pillar and a welcome stone circle shelter for sheltering from the elements.
  16. The views from Skiddaw's lofty summit stretch for miles. To the north over the Solway Firth, the skyline of Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland. To the north, in close proximity, the area known as Back o' Skiddaw with its wild and remote rolling hills. To the east, Skiddaw's wonderful neighbour Blencathra, and beyond the high Northern Pennines. To the south east, the huge bulk of the Helvellyn ridge. To the south the rest of the Lake District National Park over Derwentwater and the Borrowdale Valley. To the west, looking over probably Skiddaw's best ascent route, the Long Side ridge, you will see the Irish Sea and the Isle of Man on a good day.
  17. To descend from the summit of Skiddaw head directly south retracing your footsteps back along the obvious path. You will eventually reach the wooden gate at the fence on the col between Skiddaw and Little Man.
  18. Head through the gate and descend the main path skirting the eastern side of Little Man. After a while you will reach the wooden gate and stile you ignored earlier. Go through the gate or over the stile then turn left and start the descent of Jenkin Hill.
  19. After the easy track on Jenkin Hill the path starts the steep zig zag descent towards the Howell Memorial. After the Howell Memorial the path meets the Cumbria Way again. Here turn right and retrace your footsteps back to the Latrigg car park at the start of the walk.
  20. Latrigg is the small fell to the south of the car park. Despite its small height of only three hundred and sixty eight metres above sea level, it is actually classed as a Wainwright. If you ever go to the top and take a look at the view down Derwentwater into the jaws of Borrowdale you'll soon understand why.
  21. Recently a fantastic project has taken place to develop a wheelchair access path from the car park over to the summit of Latrigg. I think that despite his dislike of the mass tourism of the Lakes, Alfred Wainwright would have loved the idea that so many people who could never have imagined seeing that perfect view could now do so on this smaller hill.
  22. In Alfred Wainwright's own words. 'The top of Latrigg is a grand place, especially for fell walkers on the retired list. Here they can recline for hours, recalling joyful days when they had energy enough to climb to the tops of all the mountains in view." So if you have a spare half hour after the walk why not go watch the sun go down from Latrigg and bag another Wainwright.
  23. For refreshments on your way home, somewhere to stay or to browse gear shops you can't bet Keswick. It is one of my favourite places, especially on Saturdays when the market lines the main street. There are also a few food and drink establishments in the villages of Ormathwaite, Applethwaite and Millbeck at the bottom of the Gale Road.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL4 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 90 Map Click to buy Harvey Super Walker Lakeland North 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.