Outline of Route
Car park near Dockray - Hart Side - Stybarrow Dodd - Watson's Dodd - Great Dodd - Aira Force - Car park (Grid ref. NY 398205)
Total Distance 10.2 miles, Total Ascent 2400 feet, Equivalent Distance 15.0 miles
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Details of Route
On the right hand side of the A5091, travelling towards Dockray, about half a mile from the A592 Ullswater lakeside road, there is a car park; marked as such on maps but not at the location. It is free. From here cross the road and, where a signpost indicates a footpath, cross the stile. This footpath, through Glencoyne Park, provides some of the most beautiful views - of the head of Ullswater - in Lakeland (photo). At two points it divides: in both cases take the upper track. Cross another stile, over a "gate" fence in a gap in a wall across the path, and climb, through a wooded area, to a gate in the wall running across the fellside. Once through the gate turn left and follow the path alongside the wall. After almost half a mile a track comes in at an acute angle from the right. Backtrack along this path until the crest of the ridge, Brownhills, is reached, then head westwards again along that crest. Clamber over, or through, the broken-down wall found running down the fellside and head uphill - no path here - towards what appears to be the summit of Hart Side ahead of you. After reaching this subsidiary summit climb to the main one; where a peculiar man-made ditch, of no obvious use, is the main, and perhaps only, item of interest.
Head southwest from here towards the summit of Green Side, unnamed on some maps, and either bypass it to the right where the path is very clear or head for the summit. Continue towards the summit of Stybarrow Dodd and bear to the left of it, along the indistinct path, to the subsidiary summit on the west side of the Helvellyn - Great Dodd ridge. The western Lakeland panorama is revealed during this ascent, to magnificent effect. Join the worn path returning to the summit of Stybarrow where you can look down on Thirlmere - not visible from the summit itself - then continue along the path (80° panorama) towards Watson's Dodd, where there's another fine view of Thirlmere (photo) and northwest towards Keswick (photo), and subsequently Great Dodd. On a windy day you will have your first opportunity of relief from the blast in the shelter near the summit of Great Dodd. Walk up to the true summit from here for the marvellous all-round panorama, to the north (photo) and particularly Blencathra (photo), the Helvellyn range to the south (photo), and Grasmoor etc. to the west (photo).
There is a cairned path running roughly northeast from the summit; which soon becomes an easy-to-follow, worn path down towards Randerside and across Matterdale Common (photo) to Groove Beck. A ford or footbridge, take your pick, leads across this beck to a road alongside Cockley Moor plantation. I've found the fly agaric fungus here (photo). Go straight ahead when you come to the crossroads, and continue to Dockray.
Cross over the main road in Dockray, towards a postbox, where a small signpost indicates the start of a footpath to the right. Follow this track through a gate, over Riddings Beck footbridge and down by Aira Beck to the Force. From the footbridge near the bottom of the main falls (photo) climb up the stone staircase on the downstream, western side of the beck then follow the path downhill to an exit gate by a fenced enclosure. Go through this gate and follow the sandy-coloured path uphill for about fifty yards where another (black) path, on the left, leads through the trees to the car park.
Rev. 17 July 2012