Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.
The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region. Walking is a big attraction in the Lake District whether strolling around the low lying lakes or climbing up into the mountainous fells whichever is undertaken the scenery is magnificent. Alfred Wainwright’s famous hand written book, The Pictorial Guide to the Lake District, published in 1955 is a collection of seven books each illustrated with his unique style and charm of the 214 fells inspiring many visitors and tourists from all over the world.
Dodd at 502m (1,647ft) is a small fell in comparison to the rest of the fells in the Lake District. It lies on Forestry Commission Land known as Dodd Wood about 2½ miles north-west of Keswick. Before 2001 Dodd was extensively planted with conifers right up to its summit which obstructed the wonderful views over Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite Lake so the Forestry Commission began a programme of tree clearance from the top of the fell. They then hoped the clear summit would revert to heather moorland. The summit is marked by a stone memorial pillar and from here the whole of Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwent Water and the fells beyond can be admired. Dodd which forms part of the Skiddaw range is usually climbed from Dodd Wood car park by following the waymarked route to its summit and the walk may be continued to Carl Side and onto Skiddaw. In the 1860’s Dodd was home to a Scottish hermit called George Smith who became known as the Skiddaw Hermit. He lived on a ledge in a wigwam type tent, in all weathers, because of his love for the outdoors.
Dodd Wood has become very popular with visitors and birdwatchers due to the only pair of nesting Ospreys in northern England. The wood offers some wonderful waymarked trails and is home to the Red Squirrel. There is also the Old Sawmill tea room which was originally a working sawmill until 1970 and was converted to a tea room in 1981. There are two Osprey viewpoints, the Lower and the Upper and they both provide high powered telescopes and binoculars. The lower one is open from April to September between 10am and 5pm daily and the upper one is open from 10.30am until 4.30. The Ospreys can be seen fishing, sitting, feeding, washing and flying over Bassenthwaite Lake. There are staff and volunteers at the viewpoints to answer any questions you may have and there is a tablet showing live footage of the Ospreys and their chicks. The Ospreys returned to the Lake District in 2001 after more than a hundred years and have nested here since.
Bassenthwaite Lake about 4 miles long and three quarters of a mile wide is one of the largest but very shallow water bodies in the Lake District and is the only body of water in the Lake District to be defined as a lake and named as a lake all the others being waters, mere’s or tarns. The lake lies in a glacial valley and is fed by and drains into the River Derwent. The lake contains salmon, trout, pike, minnow, perch, dace, ruffe, and eel but mainly roach.
Keswick is a market town now mainly tourist orientated due to the many thousands of tourists visiting every year and the majority of side streets are abundant with B&B’s. Derwent Water is about 3 miles long by 1 mile wide and sits on the south edge of Keswick town and is fed and drained by the River Derwent. The river also connects Derwent Water to Bassenthwaite Lake.
From the car park we turn right between the public toilets and the Old Sawmill tea room. We then cross over the bridge and turn left following the green arrows of the Dodd Summit Trail. After reaching the summit of Dodd we continue to follow the green arrows only turning off left at the Osprey Viewpoint sign to visit the view point. We then about turn and make our way back to the car park. The map below is an approximate route and guide. There is a free leaflet about the walks in the wood displayed outside the public toilets.
This is a moderate to hard walk on good paths and tracks through woodland with some steep inclines and declines.
Elevation: approx lowest point 123.4m (405ft) approx highest point 490.60m (1,609.6ft) total ascent 446.50m (1,465ft).
Distance and Start Point
Approx 4 miles allow 3 hours using OS Explorer Map OL4, the English Lakes North-western area.
Start point: Dodd car park at the side of Bassenthwaite Lake on the A591.
Dodd Wood is north-west of Keswick in the north-western fells of the Lake District, Cumbria.
Directions and Parking
Travelling from the east on the A66 after passing the A591 Keswick turn off on the left continue along the dual carriage way then at the next roundabout turn right onto the A591 again towards Bassenthwaite. Continue for approx 3.5 miles and Dodd Wood car park is on the right.
Parking: Dodd pay and display car park. Fees are depending on length of stay.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are public toilets and the Old Sawmill tea room at Dodd Wood car park. The next nearest facilities are at Keswick.