Glencoyne Head Loop Hike / Trail Run • Summit and Beyond
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Glencoyne Head Loop Hike / Trail Run

Glencoyne Head Loop Hike / Trail Run


Distance – 16km / 10 miles

Ascent – 778m / 2552ft 

Difficulty – Difficult 


The routes I am documenting here will all include 6 figure grid references and a GPX file. If you are going to use the GPX on an app or alternative GPS device, please ensure you also have basic map and compass skills so that you can continue following the correct route in your GPS device fails or you need to divert the route for safety reasons.

Route Categories

The routes are categorised into Easy, Difficult, Extreme. Easy routes have minimal ascent and remain on easy to follow established trails.

Difficult routes require basic map and compassions skills because the trail will not be obvious in places and the ascent may be more intense than Easy routes.

Extreme routes include very steep terrain that should only be negotiated if you are confident and have the relevant experience to tackle that terrain. A map and compassions will be necessary and ascent will be substantial. 

The Route Description

The Glencoyne Head loop starts at High Row car park Grid NY 380 219. To get to the car park at High Row I took the A66 to the A5091 Troutbeck turn off. Drive past the Troutbeck Inn for 2 miles and then turn right at Binks Moss. Follow the single track road until you reach the carpark at High Row. 

The car park is situated on the edge of Cockley Moor Plantation. Head North West through the gate and follow the track along the edge of the plantation for 750meters to grid ref NY 374 221.

At this point you will see a foot bridge off to the right and a sign post pointing out towards the south and the saddle between High Brow and Low How.  There is a trail but it is not well trodden, and very boggy, therefore it is a good idea to be on point with navigation at this stage. Eventually, you will pick up a wall to your right and Dowthwaite Crag will come into view off to the right too. 

Summit and Beyond

The trail passes through a gate at grid ref NY 373 214 and then descends South West to Dowthwaitehead. The trail is marked well at this stage but you will be walking through the farm, therefore move with respect and keep dogs on the lead. After passing through 3 or 4 farm gates you will find yourself back on a good trail heading south up and out onto Brown Hills.

Head for the stile at grid ref NY 369 193. Once over the stile you will find yourself looking down into the Glencoyne valley. Continue south, very carefully until you see the trail heading off to the west and into Glencoyne Head. 

Glencoyne Head Trail

The Glencoyne Head trail runs all the way round the head of the valley in the middle of the steep crags. At this point the trail feels exposed but it is a well defined trail with awe inspiring views as Ullswater is gradually revealed. You will pass under Scot Crag and then scoop round the head of the valley to begin ascending south up to grid ref NY 361184. 

Lake District

Sticks Pass Section

The trail swings back to head east again. There is not a clear defined trail as you descend to to the Sticks Pass trail. Go carefully here because the ground is loose and steep. Once you reach the Sticks pass trail continue east and enjoy the magic of sticks pass until eventually you will reach the trail junction in the saddle between Raise and Stybarrow Dodd grid ref NY 342 182. 

Head north and ascend up to the summit of Stybarrow Dodd. Enjoy the views over to Keswick and the northern fells, also don’t forget to walk slightly off the summit the to the west and check out the views down to Thirlmere, then go back to th summit of Stboarrow Dodd and continue north along the well defined trail past Wastson’s Dodd and then slightly north east onto the summit of Great Dodd. 

Lake District

The route back down begins at the summit of Great Dodd but the path is not obvious. You want to head north east over to Matterdale Common for 3.9km / 2.5 Miles. The trail remains vague but eventually pick up and follows Groove beck.

The views out to the north are spectacular and you will gain a fantastic view of Blencathra’s south face with its impressive ridge lines. Eventually you will arrive at Groove beck fold and the foot bridge. Cross the river and then you will find yourself back on the track you started on which follows the boundary of the Cockly Moor plantation to the west and back to the car park. 

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