Great Calva and Knott from Mosedale

The Back O' Skiddaw is an area of high moorland which feels quite remote and relatively quiet. Comprising mainly of grass and mosses it holds onto the rainfall well in its peaty uplands. A dry summer is helpful to the walker who ventures here: to have a spring in his or her step rather than a squelch with each footfall. Heather inhabits the mid-slopes, with summer bracken often choking the lower. Great Calva and Knott are typical of this scene as you will find on this circular walk.

The valley of Mosedale, not to be confused with the one behind the Wasdale Head Inn, cuts deeply into the eastern edge of the Northern Fells with the River Caldew meandering across its floor. The Caldew's source high on Skiddaw flows north east around the southern shoulder of Great Calva and is joined by many gills and becks before it even reaches our valley. Much of that journey is accompanied by the Cumbria Way, which rejoins the Caldew later to head north to Carlisle. Near the head of Mosedale is the Carrock Wolfram Mine. Originally opened in the pursuit for Galena it was found some white quartz veins held tiny quantities of Wolfram otherwise known as Tungsten ore. During two World Wars the mine produced this highly valuable mineral, and intermittently right through until 1981. Only in 1988 were the last buildings destroyed and some landscaping carried out although many traces of this industrial past still remain. Today the valley resounds to the low of cattle in the fields, sheep on the fells, and cascades on the Caldew. An occasional car breaks the pastoral serenity carrying walkers perhaps heading for one of the few spaces in which to park and leave the vehicle.

Look out for juniper, darker and more ordered, in amongst the gorse close to the road.

Unless you have a Land Rover or similar high ground clearance vehicle it is probably better not to attempt to park on the far side of the bridge over Grainsgill Beck. Park on the verge, just before the road climbs there is a patch of grass for maybe 4 cars.