The Dodds are three fells just to the north of Helvellyn and Sticks Pass: Stybarrow Dodd, Watson's Dodd and Great Dodd, coupled with Clough Head, and if you are still very energetic a wander over High Rigg, they make for a good day out. Whilst the round has paths throughout you will not find any maintained stone pitching. A real bit of mountain walking in this relatively quiet patch.
Sticks Pass, which you climb up to at the start of this walk, is so named as once upon a long time ago a wooden fence ran along some of the route, the posts of which remained for long enough for the name to stick(!). Apparently it is one of the busiest named passes, popular with both walkers and mountain bikers. It is an ancient packhorse route crossing the Helvellyn range between Legburthwaite at the southern tip of St John's in the Vale near Thirlmere, and Glenridding on the shores of Ullswater to the east.
This is a long walk with a significant amount of ascent. Once committed it's not an easy one to cut short. Even though it never strays far from the B5322 you would not want to try descending to the road directly: the way is perilous pretty much all the way between our chosen ascent and descent points.
On the day we walked this the weather forecast was for a pleasant day after early morning mist burnt off. It didn't clear at all. Unsurprisingly, we only met a few guys training for the Bob Graham Round.
The starting point for this walk is the hamlet of Stanah where the B5322 St John's road joins the A591. There is parking available here in the form of the Thirlmere Recreation Hall car park where there is an honesty box. There is also a small bit of old road on the corner which is used for parking and the Lake District National Park Authority car park at Legburthwaite just up the St John's road.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Watson's Dodd, Stybarrow Dodd, Little Dodd (St John's Common), Great Dodd, Clough Head, and Calfhow Pike; and includes 4 Wainwrights, 6 Birketts, 3 Hewitts, 3 Nuttalls, and 2 HuMPs.
If you need accommodation we have details of 12 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the Thirlmere Recreation Hall car park entrance turn right into Stanah Lane. Follow the lane for 150m (165 yards) to just before Stanah farm, climb the tall ladder stile over the wall ahead of you. Climb through the field following the path to the gate in the top right hand corner.
Go through the gate and turn left, and again bear right to the top of the field. Turn right over the bridge, go through the gate, and bear left onto the path climbing steeply up the fell side in a series of zigzags. Stanah Gill is now on your left.
At the top of the zigzags bear right into a shallow gully. At the top climb through the rough patch of ground and rocky steps, bear left alongside the fence. When the fence turns left into the gill bear right and climb the shoulder to a large sheepfold.
Continue past the sheepfold, the path now becomes softer with occasional small boggy patches. Cross the rounded ridge - the westerly continuation of Stybarrow Dodd's south western ridge, to continue the ascent alongside Sticks Gill on your right. Cross the infant Sticks Gill and as the gradient eases considerably keep left round the boggy areas.
Eventually you arrive at the crossroads at the top of Sticks Pass.
At the crossroads turn left. The path is well drained and neatly graded gravel until it starts to climb again.
Reaching the cairn on Stybarrow Dodd's south western ridge bear right. In 200m (220 yards) as the path bears left missing the top, bear right to the summit cairn of Stybarrow Dodd.
From the summit cairn of Stybarrow Dodd bear left, north westerly, for 200m (220 yards) to regain the path. The path meanders down to a wide depression.
Keep left on the main wide and boggy path, ignore any bearing right around the head of Browndale Beck.
The summit cairn of Watson's Dodd is quite wide and squat.
From the summit cairn of Watson's Dodd turn right to continue on the path which drops only gently to join with a path from the right.
Cross the slight depression and follow the path up the long NNE ridge of Great Dodd. Keep ahead and only slightly left to climb to the shelter and cairn. Turn left to the summit cairn only 100m (110 yards) or so further on.
From the summit cairn of Great Dodd, turn left to initially head south west.
In 200m (220 yards) join the end of a clear but narrow and quite rough path which bears slightly right below Little Dodd, and then begins a long sweep right to head north west along the ridge down to Calfhow Pike.
Here the summit cairn is perched upon a rocky knoll worthy of being called a Pike.
Drop down from the Pike, by retracing your steps a little skirting round to the left. Cross through the line of old fence posts and regain the path bearing right, now heading slightly east of north. Initially this drops gently to a boggy depression before climbing again, and eventually reaching the prominent trig point and shelter at the summit of Clough Head.
From the summit of Clough Head bear right, NNE, on a narrow and sometimes indistinct path. Surprisingly there's a little bump on the ridge before it drops steeply down bearing slightly right to the little rocky knoll of White Pike with its multiple cairns.
Drop back off White Pike retracing your steps a few metres to find the path off right which skirts the steeper ground and regains the north east ridge from Clough Head.
Follow the path down to the old coach road. The fence before the track is being replaced and whilst there was a broken stile and a dog could get across the fence easily, it may not be quite so simple in the future.
Reaching the old coach road, turn left. Follow the track down to the the old quarries. Go straight over at the crossroads, and then beside the fence bear left to a gate. Go through and continue down towards the farm.
Nearing the farm bear right and then left to drop down to the B5322 St John's road.
Turn right and then first left signed to St John's in the Vale church. Go over Wanthwaite Bridge, and continue on the road.
Turn left signed again to the church. Go through the gate and continue on the road. As the road sweeps right just before reaching the church and other buildings turn sharp left through the gate signposted "Public Bridleway" and "Sosgill Bridge". This now drops down alongside the wall above the sheep pastures and St John's Beck.
Continue along the path above the enclosure wall.
Sosgill bridge is the shallow arched stone bridge seemingly in the middle of the fields to the left. Approaching it the path splits, the bridleway going through a gate then to the bridge. However, don't go thought the gate here, but bear right to stay above the wall to another gate a little further on. Climb up to the gate and go through. Continue on the path. Follow the sign boards to "Tearoom" rather than take the nature trail. Keep alongside the wall above Low Bridge End Farm.
Just past the tearoom bear left to go through a gate into the field. Cross the field to the far left corner and go through the gate. Continue on the path. As St John's Beck gets closer, climb up on to a path which becomes terraced high above the beck - care required here. Bear right to eventually reach the A591 main road. Turn left and left again into the lane. Go through the car park and out the other side. Continue along the road back to Stanah.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Great How||0.6km (0.4 miles) away|
|High Rigg, Naddle Fell, and Wren Crag||0.6km (0.4 miles) away|
|Raven Crag, Castle Crag and The Benn||1.1km (0.7 miles) away|
|Helvellyn round from Thirlmere||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|High Tove and Armboth Fell from Thirlmere||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|Launchy Gill||3.2km (2.0 miles) away|
|A Short Walk From Ashness Bridge to High Seat||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Harrop Forest Circular||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
|Harrop Tarn above Thirlmere||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
|Birk Crag, Harrop Tarn and Blea Tarn||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011