Now that school holidays are in full swing our Wainwright bagging expeditions are being planned around walks which start close to a decent sized car park. Lots of the best walks start from a small lay-by tucked away close to the bottom of the fells – ideal for cutting down on long treks to/from the start of a hike, less ideal when competition for car parking spaces is at its peak, and all the spaces are gone by 8.30am. We therefore opted for a walk up Glenridding Dodd and Sheffield Pike, starting from the village of Glenridding, which has a large National Park car park. Perfect for arriving at 9am and still being able to park!
We found the route that we followed on WalkLakes, a roughly 5 mile circular, taking in the two Wainwrights of Glenridding Dodd and Sheffield Pike, as well as Sheffield Pike’s subsidiary peak Heron Pike (not to be confused with the Wainwright of the same name). We started from the large National Park car park in Glenridding and paid £5 to park for 5 hours (card payment accepted for both parking meters and toilets).
We actually followed the route backwards, starting with Sheffield Pike, rather than Glenridding Dodd. We said quite a few times that we were glad we’d done it this way around as it gets all of the ascent out of the way nice and early – if you start with Glenridding Dodd you’ll be going uphill for an awfully long time!
Navigation on this route was tricky at times and we’d definitely have gotten lost if we hadn’t plotted the route on our OS Maps app beforehand. The route did send us down a path which is no longer in use as we were coming down Glenridding Dodd, but there is an alternative path which brings you out in the same place. I’d say you definitely need navigation skills for this route as away from Glenridding Dodd, the paths become pretty much non-existent in places, especially around Heron Pike and on the ascent of Sheffield Pike. Nevertheless it’s definitely a hike not to be missed as the views are spectacular all the way around. We did this walk in mid-August with the heather in full bloom and this made the views even better – my favourite view of the whole walk was the view of Ullswater from the summit of Heron Pike (pictured).
While Glenridding Dodd is one of the smallest Wainwrights, and Sheffield Pike is pretty much bang in the middle of the range, this route is not by any means gentle or easy. There is plenty of up and down. The ascent wasn’t too steep for the most part, but there are a few harder sections where the path was rocky or boggy (mainly the bogs were in the flat section on the way up Sheffield Pike). The downhill was relentless though, and loose underfoot coming off Heron Pike, and I definitely had a case of jelly legs by the end! We certainly saw plenty of red in the face hikers making their way up Glenridding Dodd as we were coming down.
The descent of Glenridding Pike was a fair bit busier than the rest of the walk – in fact, we saw a grand total of two people once we left the main path from YHA Helvellyn and started the climb up Sheffield Pike, until we came out of the col to start the ascent of Glenridding Dodd.
Dog friendly rating – 3.5/5. Like most of the walks on the Lakeland fells, you could come across sheep at any point in this walk, so it’s best to keep dogs on leads. That being said there is a long stretch along a quiet road where you could possibly let off well behaved dogs with good recall – the road is for residents/hostel visitors only so there wasn’t much traffic at all.
For dogs who love to swim there is a river crossing a short stretch after leaving the main path up to Helvellyn – Coal had the time of his life splashing around and actually got deep enough to swim! Aside from this there isn’t much water so take some extra for your dog. There are no stiles, but as we took a closed path off Glenridding Dodd we ended up having to clamber over a gate. I’d recommend using the alternative path which is better maintained!
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