Enjoy wilderness country ‘Back o’ Skiddaw’, and bag the remote top of Great Calva, visiting Whitewater Dash waterfall en route.
Distance 10.9 km
Great Calva rises to an impressive 690m/2,265ft. A prominent feature of Lakeland’s Northern Fells, it towers in the wilderness country ‘Back o’ Skiddaw’, taking the distinct pyramidal shape that we love our mountains to be. On the summit you feel as though you are miles from anywhere, and the all-round panoramas are magnificent. This walk has a real remote flavour to it, and takes you into some hidden parts of the Lake District that may surprise you. It also visits the Scottish-looking Whitewater Dash falls and follows a wonderful track that winds its way through some fairly inhospitable terrain. The falls tumble impressively at the head of the Dash Valley, where the only dwelling is the remote Dash Farm; guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright considered these falls to be the nest in Descending Little Calva. Lakeland. You will see far fewer walkers in this area than you are used to, and once you leave the track through the ancient heathland of Skiddaw Forest and head directly for Great Calva, you’re even less likely to see other people. So with a great summit, waterfalls, wilderness terrain and haunting loneliness, you have all the ingredients for a ‘classic’ Lakeland day.
Distance 11km (6¾ miles)
Total ascent 504m
Time 4 hours
Start/Finish small lay-by on minor road at NY249323
Nearest town Keswick
Terrain mostly good paths/tracks; paths on Great Calva less distinct, often absent; many steep ascents/descents. A tough wilderness route involving remote terrain. Some wet, boggy going. Descent from Little Calva to top of Whitewater Dash is very steep, rough and slippery, and requires care; avoid in mist
Accommodation Ravenstone Manor, Bassenthwaite (017687) 76240 www.ravenstonemanor.co.uk; Traffords Caravan Site, Bassenthwaite (01768) 776298
Public transport nothing near the start
Tourist info Keswick (017687) 76234
Best pub The Pheasant Inn near Bassenthwaite Lake ( 017687) 76234
NY249323 Leave the lane to head south-easterly through the kissing gate or gate (signposted ‘Dash Falls’ and ‘Skiddaw House’). Follow the tarmac track beyond (signposted ‘Threlkeld via Dash Falls’), rising through three gates or kissing gates to reach a fork in the track.
NY261319 Leave the tarmac track and fork right (signposted for ‘Dash Falls, Skiddaw House and Threlkeld’ on a stone cairn). Rise on the track, cutting left over a bridge and passing through a gate. Follow the track, rising up the narrowing valley to cut left then right and rise above Dash Falls. As the angle eases pass through a gate by a stile, continuing to cut left over a bridge and beck. Follow the main path, cutting back right. Continue to rise on the track in wild country, after Skiddaw House comes into view (half right ahead), the track descends and eventually crosses Dead Beck via a bridge.
NY283302 Leave the track, going left and taking a path to the right of the beck. Head up towards Great Calva, ascending by the beck at first to climb above it, following the path through heather and marshy ground. Keep on the main path, ignoring any paths off. Higher up, the path zigzags up a steeper section to join a path coming in from the right and below. Continue uphill on this path, heading left of a wire fence above to rise right and join this fence near a cairn. Follow the fence and a path along the ridge to the summit of Great Calva at a bend in the fence.
NY290311 Follow the fence left (north-west), staying on the left side of it. Drop steeply to cross a boggy depression as the angle eases. The path stays well left of the fence to avoid the worst bogs. Continue to reach a path crossroads, and go left here to climb and rejoin the fence higher up, continuing (with the fence right) to the summit cairn on Little Calva. Head half right, picking up the fence again. Continue on the left side of it, cutting right with it after a stile. Keep the fence right to descend more steeply, and as a gully and stream develop left, stay right near the fence, rising above the gully. (You can descend the gully too but it’s rough.) Follow the fence, cutting left at a corner and stile. Descend with the fence right to the end of the gully left earlier and continue roughly down, keeping the fence right. This path requires care – it’s steep, rough and slippery. As the angle eases above the top of Dash Falls cut half left, rejoining your outbound route at a track corner.
NY273312 Go right, dropping over a bridge and beck, and continue on the track (and your outbound route) through a gate by a stile. Follow your outbound route past Dash Falls and descend the track, continuing to pass through a gate, and rejoin the tarmac track at the stone cairn and junction. Follow the tarmac track through four gates to the lane and your car.
Updated: October 10, 2016
NY 24918 32327
30U 489297 6059238
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Highest point m
Lowest point m
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