Starling Dodd

Published 16 February 2020

Approaching Starling Dodd

If you’re in Buttermere, you can’t escape a group of fells looking down on the village and the lake. Fells that stand there, calling for you. And I was in Buttermere. And they did call me. So I went to visit five of them, starting with Great Borne before carrying on to Starling Dodd.

I’d felt a little annoyed walking up to Great Bourne. And not just because of the boggy sections. No, it was because when I reached the fence that I needed to follow to get to Great Bourne’s summit, I could see the top of Starling Dodd. I was no more than half a kilometre away. It would have been a doddle to get there.

But instead I had to leave it, and walk for one and a half kilometres in the opposite direction to get to Great Bourne first. And then when I had done that, I had to walk all the way back again to do Starling Dodd.

It was inefficient.

Crummoch Water and Grasmoor seen from Starling Dodd
Crummock Water and Grasmoor, seen from Starling Dodd

So inefficient that I considered skipping Great Bourne, and doing it another day.

Of course I didn’t. You will have noticed that. But it was touch and go for a short time.

At least all I had to do to get to Starling Dodd from Great Bourne, was to follow a path. To turn offs. No diversions. Nothing complex. Simply follow the path. A rather dull path, but a path all the same. One that would take me pretty much all the way to the top of Starling Dodd.

I rather switched off. After all, I’d seen most of it whilst walking to Great Bourne. The tufts of heather. The patches of bog. Although it is possible I hadn’t been paying quite enough attention earlier. For when I came to a dip in the ground, I had no recollection at all of walking through it. Yet, this wasn’t a small dip. It was massive. You’d have to be walking with your eyes closed to come close to missing it. And I was pretty confident I’d been walking with mine very much open.

No further unexpected landscape changes followed. After a good stretch of the old legs, I arrived at Startling Dodd’s rather indistinct summit. A plain, medium sized dome of land greeted me. It proffered only a large stone cairn and – curiously – a pile of twisted iron. It looked like it consisted of several old metal fence posts. Was this some kind of weird modern art? Or something else? And if it was something else, why? I had no idea at all, but it was something to look at.

Cairn and a twisted pile of metal at the summit of Starling Dodd
Cairn? Check. Twisted pile of metal? Check. Strong wind preventing you from standing up? Check.

If you could stand up to look at it. I’d first encountered “the wind” whilst at the top of Great Bourne where it had been rather gusty. At Starling Dodd, it was only a tad stronger. So strong that it was difficult to stand upright. Even harder was walking into the wind, something I needed to do to see Starling Dodd’s best feature. The top of the fell offers an almost complete view of Ennerdale Water. All the fells on my walk sat between the Ennerdale and Buttermere valleys. I’d see a lot of Ennerdale that day. But without doubt it was Starling Dodd that offered the best place from which to admire the former.

But all I got was a fleeting glance. The wind was too strong. I struggled to take a quick photograph, before it drove me back to the cairn. Ideal world I would have sat near the edge for a while and enjoyed it all. But there was no chance of that happening.

Ennerdale Water and Ennerdale seen from Starling Dodd.
The mighty Ennerdale

I retreated to Starling Dodd’s more sheltered northern flanks, sat down and assessed my options.

That wind had been unnervingly forceful. My planned walk would next take me to three more fells that were even higher in altitude than Starling Dodd. Red Pike, High Stile and High Crag. And High Stile was almost another 200m higher above sea level than where I was now. The strength of that wind even at the 633m highpoint of Starling Dodd made me wonder whether any of this would happen. Would I just get blown over?

But maybe the wind would calm down. To give up without trying would be defeatist. After munching an apple, I heaved myself up and prepared to carry on.

The wind had been unnervingly forceful. My plans involved three more fells, each of which were higher in altitude than Starling Dodd. The second, High Stile, was almost another 200m higher above sea level than where I was now. But would it be achievable? If the wind was this bad at 633m above sea level, what would be happening at over 800?

But maybe the wind would calm down. To give up without trying would be defeatist. After munching an apple, I heaved myself up and prepared to carry on.

Next time: Red Pike

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