Great Calva is a fell in
the Lake District Northern Fells lying roughly at the centre of this
region of high ground. As a result it is distant from roads and quite
remote by Lakeland standards.
Great Calva stands at the head of a
major geological fault running through the centre of the Lake District
and so from the summit it is possible to see all the way south over
Thirlmere. The subsidiary summit of Little Calva lies to the west.
Skiddaw and Blencathra are the best known of the Northern Fells,
fronting the range as they loom above Keswick and the road to Penrith.
Behind this wall is a further group of fells commonly referred to as
Back o' Skiddaw. This group is centred upon Knott and Great Calva is its
To the south of Great Calva at the centre of
the Northern Fells is Skiddaw Forest. Confusingly this Forest contains
no trees other than the windbreak of Skiddaw House but is a marshy
upland area at around 1,300 ft surrounded on all sides by higher fells.
Three streams flow from Skiddaw Forest dividing the Northern Fells
into three sectors. Dash Beck runs north west, the River Caldew north
east and the River Glenderaterra south.
The groups of three fells
can conveniently be thought of as the Skiddaw massif, the Blencathra
group and Back O'Skiddaw.
The single building in Skiddaw Forest
is Skiddaw House which has variously seen service as a shepherds' bothy
and a Youth Hostel.
Great Calva appears from Skiddaw Forest as a
steep sided pyramid clad predominantly in heather. The summit is a
curving ridge half a mile long with Great Calva at the eastern end and
Little Calva to the west. The ridge itself is extremely wet underfoot.
From between the two tops, Dead Beck runs down into Candleseaves Bog
the source of both the Caldew and Dash Beck.
Great Calva has a
prominent southern spur around which the Caldew flows before steering
north east for the Eden Valley. In a strict topographical sense
Candleseaves Bog is the connection between Great Calva and Skiddaw but
it could hardly be described as a ridge
east from Little Calva is a ridge which drops to a col at 1,797 ft
before rising up the flanks of Knott. There are a couple of small tarns
on the Great Calva side of the depression.
From the col, Wiley
Gill runs south east to join the Caldew and Hause Gill flows westward to
Little Calva sends out a further descending ridge to
the north west running alongside Dash Beck. A series of spurs named
Black Nettle Hause, Little Nettle Hause and White Hause drop toward the
Between Black Nettle Hause and Birkett Edge on Bakestall
the beck reaches Whitewater Dash by a series of fine waterfalls.
A cairn stands at the top of the Great Calva south ridge with another a
little to the north at the highest point. The remains of an old fence
runs between the two.
A few yards east of the summit a stone wind
shelter has been constructed. There is some rock in evidence but grass
and heather predominate.
The view southward particularly from the
lower cairn is unexpectedly good. Looking directly down the
Glenderaterra Valley and the Vale of St John, the gap gives an unimpeded
view as far as Loughrigg and Steel Fell.
Additionally above the
flanks of Lonscale Fell Great Gable and the Scafells appear. The nearer
fells by contrast turn their backs upon Great Calva, the northward vista
being less inspiring.
Great Calva is mainly covered in heather
which makes walking relatively difficult. From the north west an
approach can be made from Orthwaite, following a bridleway between Great
Cockup and Little Calva to the col between Knott and the summit.
Alternatively Great Calva can be climbed up the pathless south ridge
from Skiddaw Forest which creates a number of options for starting
The Skiddaw House supply road follows Dash Beck up from
Peter House Farm, or a good track runs alongside the Caldew from the
road at Mosedale.
Access is also possible up the Glenderaterra
valley from the south, starting either from the Gale Road car park or
the vicinity of Threlkeld.
routes near Great Calva