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Dowthwaitehead, Birkett Fell, Hart Side, Sybarrow Dodd, Watson's Dodd, Great Dodd,
Randerside, Old Coach Road, Cumbria.

[14.6 km]  Wed 23 May 2018

Lat/Long: 54.588497, -02.960867
OS Grid ref:
NY 38004 21903
The weather forecast was for a sunny day and the morning sunshine continued to north of Lancaster where I drove in to overcast cloud on the M6 going over Shap. I left at Penrith and headed west along the A66 and the sky began to clear a bit. I didn't take the Ullswater Road but continued west on the A66 to take the minor road to Dockray and then up to the small car park at the end of the Old Coach Road. By now it was clear sunshine with lovely views of the hills.

The old Penrith Strainer House
Just before I set off walking a builder’s van arrived and parked in a smaller parking area adjacent. Two men got out and walked up the road. I followed and it turned out they’d gone into the old Penrith Waterworks building which has a date stone of 1932 above the front door.
Penrith R.D.C. Waterworks 1932
I went inside to see that they were converting it to a private dwelling. All the inside had been cleared and they were tidying up the walls and roof. I returned to the road and continued towards Dowthwaitehead Farm. On the way I saw the Farmer approaching on his quad bike with two dogs and we exchange greetings and continued.
Strainer House
 At the farm I heard the Farmer returning and stopped to have a quick chat about the water works. He said it was probably over 20 years since they ceased using it and the intake up Groove Beck Valley was still there but partially filled in. I continued through the farm and it was nice to see a line of washing pegged out and drying in the morning sunshine. I followed the track down to the river and over the footbridge to head up towards the fells on a wet path.
Washing pegged out in the sunshine

Hazy view of Ullswater from my lunch stop on Birkett Fell
I headed up towards the pass near Brownhills but before reaching it I turned right to follow a route I used a couple of years ago that took me up to the wall that reached Birkett Fell summit. Near the top were some nice rocky outcrops and as the weather was warm & sunny I stopped for an early lunch to eat my sandwiches and take in the views down Aira Beck. I could see across to Sheffield Pike which was clear but rather hazy. I continued to the summit of Birkett Fell and reached the cairn which has a stone name plate set into it saying nothing more than ‘Birkett Fell’.
Birkett Fell summit cairn
I headed south across rough terrain to reach the minor summit and found that I had clouds of flies for company. I turned west and followed the main path to Hart Crag and another summit cairn. I'd had a slight tailwind meaning that the flies were with me most of the way. I turned south west towards heart Craig and just before leaving the summit stopped to have a look at the trenches that have been dug across. These are in rock with piles of rubble on the sides and look as though they could have been for mining investigations many years ago.
Hart Crag groove excavation
I continued over Hart Craig and then up to White Stones. After leaving the summit cairn I was now heading west towards Stybarrow Dodd and even though the weather continues excellent I still hadn't seen anyone all morning. As I left the summit to descend to a saddle before Watson's Dodd. I thought I saw the wife of a friend of mine walking up the hill. As I descended she headed off another way so I don't know if I’d identified her correctly.
Looking towards Helvellyn

Sorting the sheep

Notice on the Old Coach Road
I checked via Facebook later in the day and found I was correct and I’d seen Natalie. Watson’s Dodd had a few people around. There are great views from here looking out over Keswick. I turned sharp right and then across easy ground to the final rocky path up Great Dodd. The descent north is not obvious and as I walked across the summit I noticed a cairn which marked the pass. There had been a few more of the flies around but as I descended to Randerside rock outcrops I thankfully left them behind. I left the path for a short way to inspect the cairn which I’d first visited in 2004. The path continued across moorland sweeping round general it to the east and above Groove Beck. Eventually I reached the Old Coach road at the site of the ford where there is also a foot bridge for walkers. The water was so low I could easily walk across and follow the track back to my car park. At the last gate there are several sheep pen fences and the Farmer and some assistance were moving sheep around inside so they could sort them for identification and tagging.