Dodd Wood, a mixture of both conifers and broad-leaved trees, reaches part way up the steep, western slopes of the Skiddaw massif. The woods are criss-crossed by walking trails, several of them waymarked with colour-coded posts. These range from the one-mile Douglas Fir Trail, graded by Forestry England as ‘moderate’, to the much steeper Dodd Summit Trail. Three miles long and graded ‘hard’, the latter climbs above the tree line to the 1647ft/502m summit of Dodd, which enjoys spectacular views over Derwentwater, Bassenthwaite Lake and across the Solway Firth to the Scottish hills.
From April until the end of August, volunteers and staff from the Lake District Osprey Project are on hand to help visitors spot the huge, fish-eating birds of prey that nest nearby. There are two viewing platforms, both equipped with telescopes and signposted from the car park. The walk up to the lower viewpoint takes about 15 minutes, but you’ll need to allow up to 45 minutes to reach the higher viewpoint. There is also sometimes a webcam trained on the nest, with video footage screened in the visitor centre at Whinlatter on the opposite side of the lake.
Ospreys returned to the Lake District in 2001 after having been persecuted to extinction in the UK in the early part of the twentieth century. The Lake District Osprey Project spent years trying to encourage these magnificent birds back to Cumbria, building tree-top platforms for them. Eventually, a passing pair took a fancy to one of these nesting sites beside Bassenthwaite Lake and decided to set up home there.
Dodd Wood is best accessed from the pay-and-display car park off the A591, less than four miles north of Keswick. This can easily be reached by bus from the town centre. The car park, opposite the entrance to Mirehouse, contains public toilets and the Old Sawmill Tearoom.