Analysing terrain data
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The exposure grade describes the potential consequences of falling or slipping off the path.
Low Exposure: The path is on completely flat land and potential injury is limited to falling over.
Medium Exposure: The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.
High Exposure: Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.
Extreme Exposure: Some trail sections are extremely exposed where falling will almost certainly result in serious injury or death.
Skiddaw looks its most monumental from the Keswick side, but this aspect is much nicer viewed from a distance than actually walked up.
In the flesh it's a dull and seemingly endless grind.
Well, someone had to say it.
Easy access makes this flank of the hill the most popular by far too, and crowds don't really add much to the experience.
But enough of the negativity.
For a completely different day out head round to the hill's wilder northeastern side, where the wide open spaces of the Skiddaw Forest have plenty to offer lovers of remote country.
OK, the hill itself is a shapeless lump from this angle, but it's blissfully uncrowded too.
You can even make a weekend of it with a night in the rustic Skiddaw House YHA.
One of the few hostels anywhere in the UK with no road access, it's well worth the trip in its own right. The Latrigg car park is the start point for a very popular route up Skiddaw; follow this briefly, then turn off right onto the rather less crowded Cumbria Way.
This crosses Whit Beck and heads east to a shoulder overlooking the deep valley of the Glenderaterra Beck.
The trail now traverses the steep craggy east flank of Lonscale Fell - it's quite spectacular in places (but not at all hard or scary).
Beyond this the path leads gradually uphill into the wilds of the Skiddaw Forest to reach the isolated hostel at Skiddaw House.
Walk around the hostel grounds, and from a gate on the far side pick up a grassy path running steadily uphill onto the minor top of Sale How.
Continue up the vague eastern spur of Skiddaw to join the Latrigg path, a broad and badly eroded gravel motorway.
Follow the crowds northwest up onto Skiddaw's summit ridge; the high point is a short stroll north along the ridge.
Continue north, descending the ridge above the dramatic deep scoop of Barkbethdale to reach a wide, level shoulder.
Cut right here to descend the broad grassy spur of Blake Hill - there's a path of sorts, but even if you don't find it the going is easy.
Pass over the slight rise of Hare Crag, then bear northeast to avoid the worst of the bogs on the lower slopes.
Meet the Cumbria Way near Dead Beck.
Follow the track south(ish) to Skiddaw House, then retrace your steps on the Glenderaterra path back to the Latrigg car park. © Dan Bailey - UKHIllwalking.com, Aug 2012