27th September 2014

High Row, Deepdale and the Dodds to Clough Head


Walk Overview
Time 8am to 2pm
Duration 6 hr
Distance 11.1 mile
Ascent 2500 ft
Walking with Paul Sharkey
High Row - Dowthwaitehead - Deepdale - Middle Tongue - Stybarrow Dodd - Watsons Dodd - Great Dodd - Calfhow Pike - Clough Head - White Pike - Old Coach Road - High Row
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, High Row

Wanthwaite is found on the western end of the Old Coach Road and this car park at High Row is found at its eastern end. It may not be the biggest car park, but more often than not you should find a space. If it's simply a walk along the Old Coach Road of an excursion onto the Great Dodd / Clough Head fells you're after, I'm sure you will not be disappointed.

Parking is free.


Route Map


Almost 12 months ago Paul and myself walked across the Dodds and talked about how secluded Deepdale looked from up there. I told the tale of how on my last visit I was dive bombed by some sort of bird of pray and what a fantastic place it was to walk through. We decided at the time that we should plan a walk that included the valley, and then the idea seemed to fade, , , , not forgotten, just temporarily in the background. Not too long ago the idea was resurrected and pencilled in for today. Weather wise it turned out to be a day of two very different halves; as you'll see. For myself, this was one of the most enjoyable walks so far this year.

The main aim of todays outing was to walk through the superb valley of Deepdale. On a couple of occasions I've walked through Deepdale from Stybarrow Dodd but this was the first time I'd walked through the valley in this direction. As an added bonus, along this section of the walk the conditions were simply perfect and it felt like a privilege to have this wonderful area to ourselves.

Chatter, Chatter, Chatter and before we know it we'd walked right past the path we should have taken and into the farmyard at Dowthwaite Head. "Never mind, we should be able to get right through" So we gave it a go. Once we'd been scratched by thistles, nettled by nettles and came face to face with a fence, walking back to the proper path seemed the sensible thing to do.

Back we go to pick up the path on the left; just past the house. As we approached the building I said something along the lines of "I feel like I've just stepped back in time by 30 or 40 years".

Once we'd passed through Dowthwaitehead we made our way out onto the open fellside. From up here it really brings home just how secluded this place feels. In reality it's only a short drive from a main road but it certainly doesn't feel like that.

That's the two of us standing above Rush Gill.
The picture makes it look like I'm about to shoot Paul in the back with a machine gun. Perhaps I was, perhaps I was upset because the sun was shining and he hadn't talked me out of carrying waterproofs. Okay, okay, after thinking about it that seemed like a poor reason to 'do him in' so I put the gun away.


Looking ahead to Stybarrow Dodd from the flat ground in the middle of Deepdale. What a fantastic place.

Well, this was more or less as far as we got before we decided the ground was getting a bit too soggy underfoot. The only thing for it was to head across to the slightly higher ground near Randerside Fold (on the right hand side).

Ahead of us is Middle Tongue. It's certainly not the longest, steepest or the most adventurous ridge you're likely to walk on, but today, it was pure enjoyment all the way from bottom to top. Difficult to describe unless you were actually here! Had we headed straight up onto the fells we'd have missed all this and that would have been a real shame.

The view back through Deepdale.

That's Middle Tongue ahead of us; complete with its false summit. First we had to cross Browndale Beck.

What a difference in the day. By the time we were nearing the top of Middle Tongue the blue sky had all but vanished and we were left feeling like we were walking on a different day to the one we'd actually set out on. I should add the it didn't spoil the walk by any means; quite the contrary in fact. Now, we were able to enjoy the amazing cloud formations that were all around us. We were in the cloud for a little while, out of the cloud for a long time and along the way we experienced some of those magical fell walking moments you don't forget in a hurry.

A close up of Great Mell Fell.

Extended views had been somewhat restricted as we walked through Deepdale and up Middle Tongue. The cloud drama we were now seeing came as a total shock; albeit a very nice shock. "where on earth has this lot came from"

Top of Stybarrow Dodd.

Once you're actually up here it's an easy walk across the Dodds. Distance is covered fairly quickly and before you know it you're at Clough Head wishing the ridge was more than double the length it actually is. We're just leaving Stybarrow Dodd here, over there on the left is Watson's Dodd and the higher ground on the right is Great Dodd; the highest one along the ridge.

Looking down to Thirlmere. Despite some of the higher tops being in view, just notice how low the cloud is on the left hand side of the lake.

Watson's Dodd summit in front of Great Dodd.


Looking back to Watson's Dodd and Stybarrow Dodd.


Great Dodd summit cairn, found a short distance from the summit shelter. Not quite the clearest view I've ever had from here.
I had to admit defeat here and put on a jacket. I wasn't really feeling any cold and I was quite happy in short sleeves. However, the advancing cloud was making it a bit damp and my finger ends were feeling it. I must be getting old, , , or soft, , , or both !!

Right, now we're on the move again and next we're heading for Calfhow Pike (the little pointed bit) and Clough Head (the bit not so pointed bit).

I zoom in on Calfhow Pike to catch the cloud rising out of St John's in the Vale.

Calfhow Pike and Clough Head are ahead of us but did we reach Clough Head before the cloud??? No!

The drama just gets better and better.

Behind us Great Dodd appears and disappears almost by the minute.




We walk up towards and eventually into the cloud on Clough Head.

Clough Head summit is reached with no views at all other than the summit trig point and shelter. Within a few minutes the cloud had parted and we were treated to views across to, , , ,

, , , , , Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite Lake, the north western fells and also the northern fells.

Threlkeld is seen over on the lower slopes of Blencathra.

White Pike and Great Dodd. We were going to have a bite to eat up here but the wind was picking up and the air definitely had a few drops of rain in it. "Naa, we'll wait till we get down to the Old Coach Road"

Fluffy cotton wool clouds stick to the ridges on Blencathra giving us on this side of the valley a fantastic view. However, and as Paul said "I bet there's a lot of disappointed people on there today".

Right, my stomach is insisting we stop for something to eat.
So, to recap on todays highlights, blue sky & sunshine at the start / walking through Deepdale / cloud drama on the Dodds and now, as if my magic, , , , Paul passes me a bag of Maltesers. I'm not normally bothered about chocolate but these went down a real treat.

There isn't much shelter on offer here.

We're off the fell but by no means at the end of the walk. We still have a three mile walk to get back to the car park at High Row. Surprisingly, much of the route back is done at an altitude of over 1,300 / 1,400 ft ASL.

The Old Coach Road with a very dark looking Great Mell Fell in the distance.

We reach Mariel Bridge in warm sunshine. Here I look back towards White Pike and Clough Head.

Great Mell Fell catches the sunshine but those dark clouds look a bit threatening.

Now it's the turn of Little Mell Fell.

One final look back along the Old Coach Road to Clough Head.

Well I have to say that was a fantastic day in the Lake District. As I said earlier, the main aim had been to walk through Deepdale and this was suggested by both of us as the highlight of the walk; especially in those conditions. Because the whole route was devised around that part of the day something was always going to be left out but as I've always maintained, if people make walking in the Lake District about nothing more than getting up onto the fells themselves then they're missing out on so much that the place has to offer. I think this walk proves the point.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks