Caldew.org.uk incorporating Cummersdale, Dalston, Sebergham and Caldbeck
You are logged on as Guest
Not registered yet? Click here

Skiddaw House Bunkhouse

Skiddaw House is one of Cumbria's most remote properties, with its own very special atmosphere and has now re-opened to walkers and cyclists.

The property is 1,550ft above sea level and over three miles from the nearest road. Walkers in the area have known about, and often visited, Skiddaw House for many years. It was built around 1840 and has survived all that the weather has thrown at it and even attempts to have it dismantled. Such was the disrepair, following the January storms of 2003, that plans to re-open the property were eventually abandoned.

A Skiddaw House Foundation has now been formed, comprising a group of mainly local volunteers. The plan was to re-open the house as England's most remote bunkhouse and publicise it through the Youth Hostel Association's "Enterprise" network. It is hoped that the Foundation will be able to achieve charitable status in order to support the wardens in the upkeep of the building.

The bunkhouse stands on the Cumbrian Way long distance footpath. Walkers and mountain bikers who follow the route from Gale Road just outside Keswick, to Dash Falls above Bassenthwaite, will know the route round the side of Lonscale Fell all too well.

Skiddaw House features in numerous guidebooks and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, the Keswick clergyman who was one of the founders of the National Trust, spoke of walking up there in 1899 and being well received by the inhabitants of the shepherd's residence.

Johathan Otley, the legendary Keswick geologist and weather recorder, also wrote about Skiddaw House. Hugh Walpole, the author of the Herries chronicles, even set a murder there.

And more recently, the great Lake District guide book writer, Alfred Wainwright, made several mentions of Skiddaw House in his best selling publications and loved its sense of remotness.

The accommodation at Skiddaw House can be described as 'basic'. In an era when the youth hostels movement is upgrading much of its accommodation to near hotel standards to attract a wider trade, this is definitely a throwback to times ehn those who walked the fells didn't expect or demand much in the way of sophistication. For them, the spartan nature of the walking, heading out into the roughest, wildest and remotest parts of the Lake District was the essence.

The house was originally built as a gamekeepers's residence on Lord Leconfield's shooting estate, later becoming a shepherd's house. From the late 19th century until 1953 there was almost always a resident shepherd and family living at Skiddaw House. Pearson Dalton was the shepherd who walked up there regularly until 1969. The Leconfield Estate was sold in the late 1950s and the land around Skiddaw House was bought by farmer Willie Waugh from Cardewlees near Carlisle. The building was used, until 1986, as two separate houses, one by a couple of local schools to accommodate pupils on field trips, and the other half by the Border Bothies Association.

A businessman from the south of England, John Bothamley, aquired the lease to turn Skiddaw House into a hostel and after a protracted battle with Lake District planners, including two appeals, permission was eventually granted from London. Mr Bothamley also mordernised the Carrock Fell youth hostel which, together with Skiddaw House, became connected with the YHA, an arrangement which survived foot and mouth in 2001.

Eventually the lease was offered to Martin Webster and he, together with his girlfriend, Marie-Pierre Gaudez, will look after the property.

More information can be found about Skiddaw House by clicking here.