The Dodds from Dockray Walking

The Dodds are wide, expansive fells at the northern end of one of the Lake District’s longest ridge. At the southern end, the Helvellyn massif is all crags and steep slopes. The Dodds, in contrast, are broad and rounded, welcoming yet wild. This walk takes advantage of a relatively lofty start west of the village of Dockray, and forms a satisfying horseshoe around the valley of Deepdale. Being situated at the north-eastern extreme of the Lakes, views reach far and wide over the Eden Valley and across to the Pennines. When up on the tops, St John's in the Vale is far below and the majority of the Lake District’s mountains open up before you. Stride out along the rolling ridge and enjoy the views from this wonderfully commanding position.

Heading from Stybarrow Dodd towards Watson's Dodd and Great Dodd, with Skiddaw beyond  © Rosie Robson
Heading from Stybarrow Dodd towards Watson's Dodd and Great Dodd, with Skiddaw beyond
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Detailed description

NY3800221896 There is a gentle start to the walk to ease you in. Head down the little road which takes you to Dowthwaite Head. At the farm follow the footpath through the two gates and then head up the footpath which for the first 50m follows Coegill Beck. The path takes you on a rising traverse up the hillside. At the burn, the footpath takes a steeper trajectory, marked by a post.

NY3715519993 200m after crossing the burn, turn up the hill and follow a vague grassy path heading towards the top of Birkett Fell. The path does fade, but it is easy going over the grass and height is gained quickly. Note that on the 1:50,000 OS map Birkett Fell is marked merely as a group of crags; on the 1:25,000 edition the cairn is marked, deservedly recognising this as a peak in its own right. In fact, Birkett Fell is named after Lord Norman Birkett, who died in 1962 after giving a passionate speech at The House of Lords against the idea of Ullswater being turned into a reservoir to serve the growing population of Manchester. He won convincingly, and Ullswater Yacht Club also has a competition named in his honour.

NY3645419795 From the cairn at Birkett Fell, follow the path up to Hart Side. Continue straight on, taking the middle track when it splits into three. This takes you over White Stones and up to the top of Stybarrrow Dodd. Here, lovely views open up of the Central Fells and beyond.

NY3430518895 Now you can stride out along the broad ridge and the next couple of kilometres are easily gained. Head down to Watson's Dodd, which sits out on a limb and although it lacks prominence, its situation is brilliant. Continue up the gentle southern ridge of Great Dodd, and upon reaching the top you are at the highest point of the walk at a very respectable 856m. There is a wind shelter here, should it be needed.

NY3427620774 About 150m north of the summit cairn, bear right down a grassy path which ultimately eases you all the way back to the car. Pass over Randerside and then down by Groove Beck, where the path can get very boggy after lots of rain. You will then hit the eastern end of the Old Coach Road, and from there it is a simple walk along the track back to the car.

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Further Routes

by Rosie Robson

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