Wainwright Bagging at the Back o' Skiddaw Walking

The hills north of Skiddaw, known throughout the hillwalking world as 'Back o' Skiddaw', have long been regarded as the best place to go in the Lake District to go if you want to get away from the crowds. There are loads of possible routes here, and countless ways to link up Wainwrights, but the route described here is a classic, and if you get it in good winter conditions it will stay in your memory bank for years to come. It's a good short-ish round for Wainwright-baggers, with five ticks in just 11.5km.

A fine winter day at the Back o' Skiddaw, as we approach Great Cockup summit.  © GrahamUney
A fine winter day at the Back o' Skiddaw, as we approach Great Cockup summit.
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Detailed description

NY2860537081 From the road junction at Green Head follow the lane SW until it becomes a track beyond the turn-off to the farm at Holborn. Keep going in the same direction along the track to the ford known as Charleton Wath, over Charleton Gill. Ford the stream and follow the track for about 100m around a bend. Now leave the track and head up the pathless grassy ridge to the SW. You'll soon reach a path that takes you to the summit of your first Wainwright of the day, Longlands Fell at 483m.

NY2760935368 From the summit head down into the col SSE, then up via the path to the summit of Lowthwaite Fell at 509m. Lowthwaite Fell is one of the tops that didn't quite make it into Wainwright's guidebooks, and many feel that it is a sad omission. Continue along the path going SE to Broad Moss. Where it begins to climb out of the col on the other side, leave the path and contour around the western slopes of Little Sca Fell, crossing two streams. At the second stream crossing climb up to the col to the SW, below the east face of Meal Fell. You'll pick up a path again here. Turn to the west and climb to the top of Meal Fell, Wainwright number two.
On the summit of Meal Fell in winter  © GrahamUney
On the summit of Meal Fell in winter
© GrahamUney, Jan 2023

NY2829033721 From the summit of Meal Fell a path takes you SW down into the deep gash of Trusmadoor, a great little pass through the hills. Cross this col and climb, steeply at first, up westwards to the summit of the brilliantly-named Great Cockup (Wainwright three). In case you're wondering, there is a Little Cockup too, but our route doesn't head down that way.

NY2732933278 From Great Cockup retrace your steps back to Trusmadoor, but instead of climbing back over Meal Fell you can pick up a traverse path around its southern flank. Climb up a short way from Trusmadoor, but look for a path going off to the right, above Frozenfell Gill, and follow this. It leads easily to the col east of Meal Fell. From the col turn E and climb directly via the path up to the summit of Great Sca Fell, at 651m your fourth Wainwright.

NY2912433866 Just to the north of Great Sca Fell there is a little dip and a short climb to the cairn on Little Sca Fell. A path leads the way, and you can stay on the path going northwards down the broad slopes then climbing easily to the large cairn on the summit of Brae Fell at 586m - only a slight rise but qualifying as the fifth Wainwright of the day.
Approaching the summit cairn on Brae Fell  © GrahamUney
Approaching the summit cairn on Brae Fell
© GrahamUney, Jan 2023

NY2887335122 The way off Brae Fell is mainly pathless, if you want to take an easy way back to your car. Go just west of north down grassy slopes and you'll hit the road near the farm at Holborn. Turn right along this lane and you'll soon be back at Green Head.

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