From Kirkstone Pass to Threlkeld

  • Full Helvellyn Range
  • 18 miles of high ridges
  • 14 Wainwrights

The Helvellyn ridge strikes like an arrow through the heart of the Lake District. Adding on the hills around Fairfield and a start at the Kirkstone Inn and this crossing had always attracted my attention. Myself and JP failed miserably 15 years back when the poor weather and the temptations (liquid) of the valley below distracted us sufficiently to dip out at Grisedale Tarn. Pretty feeble in retrospect but the failure drove me on and having been dropped off at Kirkstone Pass Inn by Helen I crawled in to the Horse & Farrier at Threlkeld roughly 6 1/2 hours later.

One of the joys of the walk is that the hard work is early, the pull to Red Screes and from Grisedale Tarn on the zig zags to Dollywagon leaves the 2nd half of the walk free to enjoy the magnificent views on a high relatively level ridge. The path beyond Helvellyn is grassy and pleasant and the summits come thick and fast before crashing off the end of Clough Head into the village of Threlkeld. There are very few none circular walks that are really worth the effort of bribing a driver but this is certainly one of them.

A word of credit to Sadie and Michelle who completed this challenge in stifling summer conditions in 2017. The photos reflect their pleasure and some pain.

Recommend: Time of the year is unimportant here but cloud off the summits is. More than any other walk the joy is the swiftly changing light and scenery of the landscape.

Download GPX file

Kirkstone to Threlkeld map

All maps are copyright of Where2Walk ©2018

OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL5 The English Lakes North East.Buy Map
Start Point: NY 401080. Kirkstone Pass Inn. For many reasons this walk should be done south to north
Height to Climb: 1,800 m (5,600 feet). Includes all summits
Terrain: After the initial steep climb to Red Screes there is a good but not overly eroded path all the way
Eating & Drinking: Starting at the Kirkstone Pass Inn and finishing at the Horse & Farrier in Threlkeld is fine by me
Similar Walks Nearby: Hayeswater & Angle Tarn
Ridges over Dovedale
Stony Cove Pike from Kirkstone Pass
Places to Stay:


  1. Jonathan Hacker says:

    A while ago your linear route from Kirkstone Pass to Thelkeld caught my eye.
    I was looking for a challenging route to tackle with my son. The Kirkstone – Thelkeld route seemed to fit the bill.
    We did the walk on Tuesday this week (10th July) in near perfect conditions. Thanks so much for suggesting this route – it really is a first class walk.
    Just one slight quibble. In the article you say you did the route in ‘roughly 6 1/2 hours’. Surely you can’t be serious. Walking at Naismith’s level path pace would have made this possible, but when you include the stiff climbs up onto Red Screes & Dollywaggon Pike, to say nothing of the steep descents off Fairfield and Clough Head, only a fell runner could complete the route in 6.5 hours. My son and I are pretty fit. We did stop for regular breaks for food and drink, but our time was about 12 1/2 hours to complete the 28.7km.
    It was a truly memorable day, but I’m not sure our wives would have been happy to let us go if they had known they wouldn’t see us from morning til night!
    Keep up the good work.

  2. Michele and Sadie says:

    We were very fortunate that the weather was amazing when we did this walk with Jonathan. It was hard work but a great sense of achievement when we eventually reached the end. A pint of cider has never tasted so good!

    The initial climb was quite hard work but we were rewarded with stunning views as we were throughout the whole walk.

    Towards the end we needed encouragement and I’m sure that much patience was required to get us to get us there, but this was managed in a subtle way.

    Anyone looking for a challenge would certainly find it in this walk.

  3. Martin Ansell says:

    After a bus ride from Ambleside I ascended directly (grassy slog) from Legburthwaite, just north of the top end of Thirlmere, to Great Dodd and walked the ridge to Watson Dodd, Raise, Helvellyn (snow on top), Dollywaggon Pike, Grisedale tarn and descended to Grasmere village and Tweedie’s bar. I’ve done the extra bit to Fairfield, Red Screes and the Kirkstone Inn before and will combine the two routes in the future. The Helvellyn ridge is often overlooked and offers great value for not too much effort. North to South seems fine to me. Grisedale tarn is great for a swim in hot weather.

  4. Andrew Plasom-Scott says:

    My daughter and I did (almost) this walk the other way around and it was also very rewarding. We started at Matterdale Common, just above Dockray, and dropped off from Dove Crag to be picked up at the pub in Patterdale. A wonderful day out, though the pull up from Grisedale Tarn is a big one whichever direction you are going!

Leave a Reply