Stybarrow Dodd

Published 20 May 2014

Stybarrow Dodd, seen from Raise

The plan was to go to Helvellyn. The plan didn’t happen. Instead I went up White Side, then to Raise and did three Dodds… Stybarrow was the first of the three.

Fell names. Where do they come from? I’ve probably mentioned my confusion on name source before. Several times. But there’s frequently no rhyme nor reason to them. In a way you’d expect there to be some sort of theme between several of them. But often there isn’t. Look at Bow Fell. On one side is Crinkle Crags. On the other is Esk Pike. No link at all. Helvellyn? Dollywagon Pike? Err? No idea.

There was, however, some connection about my final three fells of the day. They all ended with the word “Dodd”.

But what does Dodd mean? Well there’s a clothing brand with that name, and in London is produced Dodd’s Gin. But that doesn’t really answer our question. Of course, further north in Lakeland is the fell simply named “Dodd” but it doesn’t help us get any nearer.

It’s even worse when you try to put a meaning on the Stybarrow part. Some sort of wheeled pig house perhaps?

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that Stybarrow was my next fell stop over a route that what Wainwright described as “easy.” A mere mile of walking was all that would be needed to take me there. All I had to do was get down from Raise, cross the Sticks Pass and then do another climb up. No trouble there.
Well none until I found a large patch of snow on the northern side of Raise, which completely covered the path.

It wasn’t particularly deep or long, but wide enough to require a substantial detour. Tentatively I edged my way forward onto it, only to confirm that going down through the snow would indeed be a slow and slippery process. Casting my eyes to the left though, have another idea. To go down on my bottom instead.

Judging by the trails in the snow, several people had already gone down that way, and I decided there was nothing for it but to join them.

More! More! I wanted to cry as I reached the end of the snow several seconds later. But there was no more snow, and besides, my bottom was now rather cold from its proximity to the damp snow.

The actual ascent of Stybrarrow Dodd was never going to get close in terms of excitement. Sorry, but it’s true. And Stybarrow’s flat top was clearly not in the minds of many walkers, judging by the fact that a well worn path allowed peiople to bypass it completely.

Summit of Stybarrow Dodd

And mostly they were. There were a fair few people out there, and only myself and one other man bothered to make the detour to the summit cairn. Even Wainwright seemed to struggle with Stybarrow’s summit, describing it as “quite devoid of interest.”

As if to rub the salt into the wound of Stybarrow Dodd, most people don’t even visit the highest part of the summit. There’s a cairn at an end of a wall, but the true high point is a few metres away and completely devoid of any marker. Indeed I ended up wandering around for several minutes in the (probably vain) hope of walking onto it.

Indeed, I began to doubt that the high point was even where Wainwright said it was. Over in the distance stood a cairn that seemed higher; conveniently on that well worn path that everyone was using. I double backed to check it out, only to find it was all an optical illusion. That Wainwright was correct all along.

Unless, of course, the other summit was the optical illusion, and this was the real one…

I wandered aimlessly around both, just to make sure.

Next time: Watson’s Dodd.

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