Stybarrow Dodd and the ravine of Stanah Gill
|Range:||Lake District Eastern Fells|
|Summit:|| 2,772 feet NY343189 |
Stybarrow Dodd is a 2,772-foot fell found amongst the Eastern Fells of the Lake District. It stands on the main spine of the Helvellyn range which marking the border between the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, the summit of Stybarrow Dodd being a point on the border. These fells are found between Thirlmere and the Ullswater basin.
The Helvellyn range runs broadly north-south for about seven miles, remaining above 2,000 feet throughout its length. Stybarrow Dodd's northerly neighbours are Watson's Dodd and Great Dodd, the three fells having a similar character and being commonly referred to as "The Dodds". To the south is the depression of Sticks Pass, beyond which the ridge continues to Raise, White Side and Helvellyn.
Sticks Pass crosses the range at 2,445 feet, this being the highest pass in the District crossed by a regular bridleway. Now of use purely to hillwalkers, it once provided the only connection between the communities on either side of the Helvellyns. The name is believed to be taken from the guideposts originally used to mark the route. The becks flowing from either side of the pass summit are both officially named Sticks Gill, the '(East)' and '(West)' having been added by Alfred Wainwright in his Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells and utilised by later guidebook writers.
Stybarrow Dodd is characterised by wide grassy slopes with very little outcropping rock. Such rough ground as exists tends to garner considerable attention on Ordnance Survey maps. The western flank above Thirlmere falls in gentle gradients to about half height and then steepens in the final descent to the valley floor at Fisher Place. A low ridge runs parallel to the lakeshore, ending at Great How above the dam, and this once diverted Stybarrow Dodd's drainage north to the Vale of St John. As part of the raising of Thirlmere reservoir in 1884 a water race was constructed which diverted all of these streams into the lake. The captured streams forming the boundaries of the fell are Stanah Gill in the north and Sticks Gill (West) to the south.
The eastern side of Stybarrow Dodd is more complex with a ridge running down four miles to Dockray and the popular Aira Force waterfall. This ridge begins as a broad plateau, variously named Green Side or White Stones (at 2,608 feet), which runs due east before falling precipitously over the screes of Glencoyne Head. The high ground splits here to provide the walls of Glencoyne, with Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd to the south and Hart Side to the north. Stybarrow Dodd's northern boundary on this face is Deepdale, this long and marshy valley separating it from Great Dodd since Watson's Dodd has no footing on the eastern side of the ridge. Sticks Gill (East) provides the southern frontier, running down to Ullswater by way of Glenridding.
The ridge northward from the summit to Watson's Dodd is broad and grassy, carrying a fair path which saves time for the ridgewalker by bypassing both tops. This path also runs southward to Sticks Pass although on this flank the fell throws out more of a shoulder than a ridge.
Geologically, the summit of the fell is formed by the Thirlmere Member of the Lincomb Tarns Formation. This consists of parataxitic lapilli-tuff. Underlying this is the Birker Fell Formation of andesite lavas and sills. These formations form part of the Borrowdale volcanic series.
Summit and view
The fell has two summits, the true top being marked by a very small cairn at the north east end. Alfred Wainwright noted that early additions of the Ordnance Survey maps stated only the height of the south-west top (2,756 feet) and recorded his calculation of the true height of the fell. The southern top provides better views and is blessed with a much larger cairn. All around is grass with the exception of Deepdale Crag, a small area of exposed rock on the eastern side. The view is extensive with all major Lakeland ranges in sight.
From the west much of the lower slopes are privately owned and the best access is by way of Sticks Pass from Legburnthwaite. As alternatives the path can be left for ascents of Stanah Gill or the shoulder dropping from the south summit. For climbs on the eastern flanks the common starting points are Dockray, Glencoyne and Glenridding. The Sheffield Pike and Hart Side ridges can be followed, or an ascent made up Sticks Pass. Deepdale provides a long and rather wet line of approach. Stybarrow Dodd is most commonly climbed as part of a round of Deepdale (The Dodds), or as part of a full transit of the Helvellyn Range.
- Richards, Mark: Near Eastern Fells: Collins (2003): ISBN 0-00-711366-8
- Birkett, Bill: Complete Lakeland Fells: Collins Willow (1994): ISBN 0-00-218406-0
- Alfred Wainwright:A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Book 1: ISBN 0-7112-2454-4
- Woodhall, DG: Geology of the Keswick District- a brief explanation of the geological map. 1:50,000 Sheet 29: British Geological Survey (2000)