Last weekend we spent two nights in the Lake District, as Sam was running the Cumbria Way Ultra Marathon, starting from Ulverston and finishing in Carlisle. We went over the day before so that we wouldn’t have to leave home at 3.30am and arrive for the race start totally exhausted! Therefore, we decided to take the opportunity to tick off another Wainwright the day before, something small-ish and not too taxing the day before the race. We settled on Dodd, a heavily wooded Wainwright which is largely covered by a Forestry Commission plantation.
We followed one of the four Forestry Commission walking trails which start from their Dodd Wood car park: the Dodd Summit trail is the most strenuous of these and is around three and a half miles. It took us just over two hours with lots of stopping for photos! The car park is fairly large but was nearly full when we arrived at lunchtime on Friday. Despite this, the trail was extremely quiet, so everyone else must have been on the flatter trails! The car park is a number plate recognition pay when you leave, and you can pay by cash or card. There are toilets in the car park and a tea room where you can get something to eat at the end of your walk. Dodd is also one of the places in the Lake District where you can spot red squirrels – head to one of their feeding stations to increase your chances of spotting one!
Despite only being around three and a half miles, we were surprised by how tough this walk was. While not on the same difficulty scale as huge fells like Skiddaw and Great Gable, the hike up Dodd is a relentless uphill slog which, while not steep, is hard work by the ceaseless nature of the incline. This is made somewhat easier by the fact that the path is broad, level and well surfaced nearly all the way to the top – it only becomes narrower and more uneven once you start to pass out of the trees as you near the summit. On the descent it’s a while before the path becomes broader again, but in next to no time you’re back at the car park and ready to sit down with a cup of tea or an ice cream, depending on the weather!
For such a moderately sized fell, the views are nothing short of spectacular. While for a long time at the start you are walking through trees, there is a point where you turn a corner and a magnificent view across Derwentwater opens up in front of you. There’s a bench here so it’s great place to stop for a snack! The views from here and the summit are the reason that Dodd is my favourite Wainwright so far – although it’s only number 29 so there’s time for that to change! In terms of view vs effort though surely this has to be one of the highest ranking walks in the Wainwrights. The clear paths and green arrows also make this an easy walk to navigate around – it’s always nice to not have to squint at a map to try and work out the next path!
Dog friendly rating – 5/5. Our dogs really enjoyed this walk. The large sections of the walk in the trees are perfect for giving your dog a chance to enjoy some time off the lead – a rarity in the Lake District where there tends to be livestock waiting around every corner. We did pop ours back on their leads after we got onto the open fell side just in case there were sheep around even though we didn’t see any – it’s always better to be safe than sorry, and this was a very short section of the walk overall. The shelter from the trees makes this a great walk whatever the weather: plenty of shade in the sunshine and protection from the elements in winter. There are no stiles on the walk and there is a stream at the start and end where your dog can have a drink – we actually joined ours at the end and had a splash to cool off as we were fairly warm after our climb up the hill!
Where we stayed
We spent a night at the absolutely wonderful Fiddleback Farm near Wigton. I always try and book a large room so there’s enough space for both of us and the dogs and the Family Room I’d booked was huge, with plenty of floor space not taken up by furniture – exactly what we need with a labrador who wags his tails constantly! The entire B&B is beautifully decorated, clean and super comfortable. There’s a hearty cooked breakfast too and the owner was so welcoming and accommodating to our request to be able to come in and out in the small hours! The B&B is in a great location for getting out to tick off the northern Wainwrights too if you’re working through these.
Dog friendly rating – 5/5. There were absolutely no issues bringing the dogs with us, with no dog fee which made a lovely change! There was a dog bed, food and water bowl and spare treats and poo bags waiting for us in the room too. The B&B has an enormous lawn where we were welcome to let the dogs have a run around off lead too!
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