Great Dodd is a fell in the English Lake District and
stands on the main spine of the Helvellyn range in the Eastern Fells,
between the Vale of St John and Dockray.
The Helvellyn range runs broadly north-south for about
7 miles, remaining above 2,000 ft (600 m) throughout its length.
Great Dodd is near to the northern end of this ridge,
with Clough Head to the north and Watson's Dodd to the south. The fell
is a typical "Dodd" with a smoothly rounded profile, clad primarily in
grass and bracken.
Great Dodd lays claim to a wide
tract of land to the north east, descending gradually over five miles to
the vicinity of Troutbeck.
Great Dodd stands at an acute angle in the Helvellyn
range, with the "northward" continuation to Clough Head actually
starting off westerly, before swinging around the head of Mosedale.
Before the unnamed col is reached, the ridge throws up
the small rock tor of Calfhow Pike (2,165 ft). In more rugged areas of
the District this would have little significance, but here amid the wide
vista of smooth green slopes, Calfhow Pike is a landmark visible for
miles around. It has little prominence although some guidebooks list it
as a top.The connection to Watson's Dodd is a short grassy promenade
running south westerly with little reascent at the far end. The ridge
path in either direction is broad and clear, with a shortcut contouring
to the west of Great Dodd's summit for those in a hurry.
The long north eastern ridge drops first to Randerside
(2,375 ft), a subsidiary top bearing a rash of stones. From here it
broadens into Matterdale Common, becoming steadily wetter underfoot,
before splitting into two on either side of Groove Beck. The more
southerly ridge heads over High Brow (1,885 ft), fringed by Dowthwaite
Crag which broods over the road-end settlement of Dowthwaitehead. The
further tops of Low How (1,630 ft) and Cockley Moor (1,492 ft) are
passed before this branch of the ridge peters out in extensive conifer
plantations, and then the ground climbs again to Great Mell Fell. The
northern branch of the ridge is edged by Wolf Crags above the Old Coach
Road, beyond which a wide prairie sweeps north across Sandbeds Moss and
Flaska to the A66 and the dismantled Penrith to Keswick railway.
Between the north east ridge and Clough Head is the
head of Mosedale, one of many valleys in the district bearing that name.
Groove Beck, which divides the north east ridge into two, becomes
Thornsgill Beck and then Trout Beck, before finally uniting with the
waters of Mosedale to head west for Keswick as the River Glenderamackin.
The dale separating Randerside from Stybarrow Dood and Hart Side also
undergoes a bewildering sequence of name changes as it flows to
Ullswater. Beginning as Browndale Beck it flows through the hanging
valley of Deepdale, becomes Rush Gill and finally at Dowthwaitehead is
renamed Aira Beck. This is the head stream for the famous waterfall of
Aira Force, a popular destination for visitors.
The western flanks of Great Dodd are drained by the
short streams of Beckthorns, Ladknott and Mill Gills, all of which once
fed St John's Beck. As part of the Thirlmere reservoir scheme, completed
in 1894, a water race was constructed to divert the latter two becks
southward to the lake. There is some outcropping rock here at the bottom
of the slope, Lad Knott being the principal feature.
The Old Coach Road was the main through route from
east to west before the coming of the railways. It still provides a fine
walking route from Dockray around the northern end of the Helvellyn
range to the Vale of St John. The close up view of Wolf Crags is
particularly good. Recent damaging overuse by off-road vehicles should
now cease following changes in legislation.
The summit area of Great Dodd is
a short ridge with the highest point at the north west end, marked by a
small cairn. A larger wind shelter lies to the south east. Another cairn
lies part way down the western slope on the path to Clough Head, marking
the minor top of Little Dodd. The view is good, with much of the Lake
District and a portion of the northern Pennines in sight.
Great Dodd can be climbed from Dockray, or from
further up Aira Beck at High Row or Dowthwaitehead, although parking
here is limited. Either branch of the north east ridge can be ascended
directly, or Mosedale can be followed up to Calfhow Pike at its head.
All of these routes are abominably wet underfoot until Randerside or
Calfhow Pike is reached. The car park at Legburthwaite provides the best
access to the west, and from here any preferred route can be followed up
the pathless grassy slopes.