Hills: Great Dodd, Clough Head
Classification: Wainwrights (112 and 113)
When: Saturday 23 March
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion, Hils and Carol
Distance: About 8 miles
Time: About 4 ½ hours
Weather: Quite windy and cold on the tops – fine lower down
Post walk drink: Cabernet Sauvignon
Post walk watering hole: The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas i.e. the Wetherspoons in Keswick
Uses of the arse crampon: None as such
Mishaps: Mobile phone issues
After getting blown about on Knott Rigg and Ard Crags the previous day, a good blether/ conflab was had in the pub afterwards with much discussion about what we would do. There were 6 of us on the walking meet and a lot of plans being kicked around with Kets in particular being keen to go and have a bit of an epic on the Helvellyn range. 3 of us however had all been thinking about the same set of hills – at the Northern end of the Helvellyn range but with convenient access from a car park near Dockray at a height of around 300m. As I didn’t have a car with me I had initially dismissed it as a possibility but since the others did it seemed like a good plan. We would start by going up Great Dodd and then take a call as to whether to continue to Clough Head or not. I arranged to meet Hilary in Keswick and we would get Carol at the car park at 10.45.
This wasn’t exactly an early start but I woke up way too early and ended up at Hils’ B&B a bit earlier than I had said I would, despite a bit of faffing which involved me returning to my accommodation to change into the winter lined trousers (as it was colder than I thought it would be) and ditch the ice axe and crampons as there didn’t seem to be much in the way of snow. We got to the car park much quicker than we thought we would and after gearing up we decided to try and contact Carol. This turned into a comedy of errors with the signal dropping in and out all over the place and we weren’t really sure if we had managed to get a message through or not. As it was bloody cold Hils and I decided to set off and she scratched a message in the car park ‘catch us up’ which of course an incoming car promptly drove over. Carol walks faster than we do anyway so we were confident she would catch us up eventually.
The initial bit of the walk follows a track before cutting off towards Great Dodd just after a rather slippy stream crossing. The path is one of those that climbs at a steady gradient which is always a good thing and particularly if one is feeling a bit unfit! Carol caught us up about 25 minutes into the walk so then we were three (well four if you count the mountaineering minion). It was then a case of blethering away to the top! For the most part the path was okay, there was a majorly boggy bit at one point but it was soon over and the final haul to the summit saw us on top of a freezing Great Dodd at around 12.30. We had a break in the shelter just off the summit to take on some food and fluids and decide what to do next: Hils decided to go back the same way but with Carol and I both keen to go on to Clough Head we decided we would go our separate ways and Carol offered me a lift back to Keswick. Fortunately I hadn’t left my keys or wallet in Hils’ car!
The walk to Clough Head involves quite a bit of drop and re-ascent but the angle is pretty gentle and the views were pretty good all round, though when directly in the wind it was still pretty cold. It was much warmer when out of it though so there was a fair bit of faffing with layers on and off before we hit the top of Clough Head at about 1. The views were great particularly over to Blencathra and the Skiddaw range and we took a bit of a break, although again it was too cold to hang about (and was obviously going to be one of those walks where the lunch ends up getting eaten after the actual walk took place).
The descent off Clough Head was surprisingly steep for a while and levels off only to deposit you into a large area of bog and tussocks. We cut across in the direction of the obvious track which would take us back to the car park only to come across a barbed wire fence. As there was a gate about 5 minutes walk away I decided to head for that (not least given my habit of ripping the bum out of trousers without even needing a barbed wire fence to achieve it). Carol elected to clamber over and waited for me to get over the gate, which irritatingly was locked but had a low fence next to it which was easy to climb over. Once on the track it was simply a case of head down and follow it back to the car, although it did seem to go on forever (probably a factor of me being tired rather than anything else). We were back at the car at around 3 and then it was a case of head back to Keswick, meeting the others in the Wetherspoons later on for the inevitable post walk drinks (which extended to the Dog and Gun for a nightcap later).
All in all a good walk for the day and some good views as well as a good blether. And no need for crampons – of the arse variety or otherwise!