Drawing 112: A forest road on Dodd

Direction of view: NNW

Notes: This scene doesn’t appear in any of Wainwright’s other works.  It is no doubt what he saw, but it is now no longer visible, and one can only guess at where he took the picture from.

Comments: I searched at length for this view on 2nd April 2017, without success; but I did at least satisfy myself that the view as seen and drawn by AW no longer exists.  My pictures show a section of forest road similar to that which he drew, and just about the only glimpse of the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake which is currently visible from the approximate area where he must have stood.

Dodd Wood tends to be thought of as a modern, Forestry Commission created feature, but actually the forest was created by Thomas Storey of Mirehouse in 1790.  I certainly remember it as a rather grim place, with any views from the summit obscured by trees, as Wainwright predicted in The Northern Fells. The Forestry Commission started a programme of tree clearance from the top of the fell in 2001 and the summit of the fell is now clear.  The views are now available, and they are glorious.  Also at Dodd Wood there is a café, marked trails to follow, and an osprey viewing point.

In the 1860s, Dodd was home to a Scottish man called George Smith, who became known as the Skiddaw Hermit. He lived on a ledge on the fell in a wigwam type tent made from a framework of branches and built against a low stone wall, and survived there all year round.  He made a little money by painting portraits of local people, but he was a troubled character, and an alcoholic.