Ride no. 35 – Steep!! Up Carlside, down Ullock Pike

“Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes! And eyes and ears and mouth and nose!”

I was singing this little diddy while hiking my bike up the steep (STEEP) Carlside fell.

No, I wasn’t losing my mind, I just had this British nursery rhyme stuck in my head as I huffed and puffed and  hiked-a-bike up this steep mountain. I thought it was quite appropriate though, as it described everything on my body that was aching while I was singing it!

I’ve been wanting to get up Ullock this year ever since the weather has turned decent – aka not-raining-all-the-time. And today was the day! It had been a dry spell all week, it was a Monday with no school/bank holiday-makers to contend with, and it was even warm and sunny. Perfect.

Dodd fell back there

The way I like to ascend Ullock is a bit of a slog, but it’s much quieter and lower than the alternative, which is the approach via Skiddaw. I have attempted the Skiddaw approach to riding Ullock once before and was foiled by dodgy brakes. I’ve also descended off Skiddaw, headed past Ullock, and descended via Carlside, which was a nasty surprise! Way above my ability level and a lot of it is much too steep for me to enjoy – I find the Ullock descent much more manageable for myself.

As I mentioned, this approach to Ullock is much quieter, and this trip out was no exception. I saw one couple coming down Carlside, and then a couple lone hikers doing Ullock to Skiddaw. On the summit of Carlside I did see some brightly-coloured characters on bikes zooming down the slate descent from Skiddaw to Ullock – going MUCH faster than I would! They cycled past myself, straight onto Ullock, so I didn’t get a chance to have a chat unfortunately. I always like to talk to other local ‘natural trail’ riders.


After embarassing myself with some geeky bike-over-the-head summit shots on Carlside (it’s become a bit of a habit …), I zoomed to the top of Ullock, took some more snaps, and then prepared for the descent! Due to the high levels of dust pollution in the air, here and all over Britain (Saharan sand storm and pollution apparently?), the view of the North Lakes mountains were veiled in a haze. Still a lovely view to sit and admire over some hummus & carrot sandwiches.

I pointed my beloved Yeti downwards and off I went, negotiating the ribbon singlestrack that snakes down the spine of Ullock Pike. Definitely a techy trail – lots of little sections that can catch you out if you aren’t paying attention. And since quite a few areas have high levels of exposure (aka a big old tumble down a thousand feet if you fall off), focus is key. I am a more into self-preservation though and didn’t take anything too quickly, and walked the big old ‘wall’ of rock that is doable on a bike, but definitely above my comfort level!


Wonderful ride down and into Dodd Wood, then a little road ride back into Keswick. Where I made it my business to drink lots of tea, eat a mountain of good food, and then a bunch of cookies. Top day!


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