BB1609 : Walking On Thin Ice

Thursday 25th February 2016

Today it was sciatica that prevented me from getting out, not grandchild minding or grandmother minding though quite possibly brought on by one or the other.  Or both!

John was very keen to follow a walk entitled The Dodds From Dockray he discovered at Go4awalk. Accordingly, he takes on the role of raconteur.

Stan had returned from his sabbatical in the sun to keep us on the straight and narrow (well, winding and wide to be more accurate).

We set off from Kendal to meet Robin in the car park at the Kirkstone Inn where he had decided to leave his magnificent motor rather than risk the unknown territory around the car park at Dockray.  

Apparently his car is not an off-roader!

Our less than direct route to the Red Moss car park meant that we had to turn round at Matterdale Church.

We decided to delay the start of the walk (it was very cold) by having a look round the pretty but simple church which dates back to Elizabethan times. The stained glass window dates from much later and is the work of Charles Kempe, one of the major figures of Victorian decorative art.

We eventually reached the correct car park and whilst kitting up there was a discussion about the pros and cons of gaiters  (useful accessory or fiddly fashion item?).  Robin decided on the latter and declared he was going gaiterless.

Our first objective was Great Dodd via Matterdale Common.  Don had warned us that the common could be very boggy and he was absolutely right.

Fortunately however we were able to avoid the bog by walking on thin ice which had formed above it.  Stan of course skipped across it in a very lightweight sort of fashion. Robin and myself less so.  But it seemed to hold…..until it didn’t.  

Robin’s gaiterless leg disappeared up to the knee through virgin white snow and ice. Robin was unhurt but his leg was a very different colour when he pulled it free.

These reports often include music references so you may like to be reminded of Walking on Thin Ice by Yoko Ono (Double Fantasy 1980).  

Or perhaps not.  

It was a long cold climb up Great Dodd due to icy winds and snow underfoot but it was well worth it for the superb views of Blencathra in the north and Cross Fell in the east.  


Approaching Great Dodd

Donning microspikes made for much quicker progress and we were soon at the summit where the winds dropped and the sun shone.  We were, however, suffering from technology malfunctions. Robin’s camera had given up the ghost and my phone battery had died due to the strain of GPS tracking and taking photos. Being well prepared I had packed an additional power pack. I had also packed the wrong connecting cable!  From that point on we had no GPS but who needs it when you’ve got Stan!

"That's the way to go!?" said Stan

Robin took over as photographer using his phone and we had a stunning stroll along the tops via Watson’s Dodd to Stybarrow where there was a birds-eye view of The Lake District Ski Club at Raise which was in full swing.

There are several YouTube videos about the club but click on the crossed skiis, left, to see some amazing footage including an attempt at paraskiing.

Ski lift on Raise

Our next objective was to find a sheltered spot for lunch but it was not until we had done both Green Side and Hart Side that we found a suitable rocky outcrop near Birkett Fell at 1:40 p.m. - yes, Tony 1:40 p.m!!

Sharp Edge (Blencathra) from Watson's Dodd

Snowfields up to Stybarrow

Boulder field on Hartside

Ullswater from Hart Side

Aira Beck bridge

Icicles in Aira Beck tributary

From there it was all downhill to Dowthwaitehead and back along the road to the car.  The most notable feature was a house under construction with some odd, unattractive crenellations on its gable ends. We concluded that it was a conversion of a water board building and that the owner had been compelled to keep the design feature.

Soon we were back at the Kirkstone Inn where Robin was reunited with his mean machine and Stan bought us a pint (each).   We also managed a rather strange Comitibus photo.

John, Thursday 25th February 2016




Thursday 25th February 2016

Distance in miles:

8.8 (Go4awalk)

Height climbed in feet:

2,129 (Go4awalk)


Great Dodd, Watson's Dodd
Stybarrow Dodd, Hart Side


John Hn, Robin, Stan

To purchase the "official" routemap and directions c146, visit Go4awalk.

BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1609 .

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing - although it may not be that up to date - or for the totals of the mileages and heights (ditto) see the Excel file: BB Log.

You can navigate to the required report via the Home Page

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boys. Likewise written comment.

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To see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see Which Wainwright When? This may or may not be up to date!

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.
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