The Dodds

Length 12 Kilometres | Highest point 857 metres

Stybarrow Dodd 843m, 2765ft, GR 343189
Watson’s Dodd 789m, 2588ft, GR 336196
Great Dodd 857m, 2811ft, GR 342206


Dodd is the old name for a rounded grassy hill, of which these three are the highest of all fifteen or so in the Lake District. The walk along the high-level ridges connecting them is easy and particularly rewarding, both on account of the extensive views and because they are unfrequented. In springtime they are the haunts of dotterel and golden plovers. These tops are more usually reached from the east where the approaches are more gradual, but the route from the west gives glimpses of rocky ravines as well as close-up views of the splendid and impressive Castle Rock of Triermain.

The Dodds from the east
The Dodds from the east

Park in the United Utilities car park at Legburthwaite on the west side of the St John’s in the Vale road. Walk south along the road to the telephone box at Stanah and turn left, crossing a high wall by a wooden stile. Cross the leat (capturing water for Thirlmere from Ladknott and Mill Gills) and a footbridge. A path rises steeply by the side of Stanah Gill, with views of its tumbling waterfalls. On reaching a sheepfold, the steep part is over and the path continues easily to Sticks Pass. Turn left, almost due north, to reach a minor top and then head NE to reach the upright blue slate slab marking the highest point of Stybarrow Dodd (5km, 676m, 2hr 25min).

After appreciating the extensive views, join the path which lead NW to Watson’s Dodd, slightly offset from the line of the ridge. To reach Great Dodd, the line is now NE, rising about 54m after an almost imperceptible descent. In mist, take care to avoid the path which forks left here to contour round Millgill Head. The large shelter cairn on top is 100 metres further south than the highest point but it is a better spot for views (8.5km, 772m, 3hr 25min).

Great Dodd from Stybarrow Dodd
Great Dodd from Stybarrow Dodd

To descend, head SW then west to Little Dodd, avoiding the main path which curves around to Calfhow Pike and Clough Head. Little Dodd is no more than a rounded protuberance, but from it you should be able to spot a cairn, ESE, which is the next point to aim for. There is no descent path but the ground is mainly short grass and easy underfoot. As the distant hills disappear from view, Castle Rock looms larger, with the overhanging north face on the right. When the ground steepens, a path develops and leads to the only possible crossing place of Mill Gill, between the upper and lower ravines. Go left over the neck of ground connecting Castle Rock with the fell, through a narrow open gateway and down to reach the leat at a point where it emerges from a tunnel. Turn right and follow the path along the upper edge of a small copse of larches. After crossing a slate stile, go down at the side of the wall to reach the road exactly opposite a path into the car park (12.5km, 4hr 25min).