Helvellyn via Striding Edge

  • THE mountain to climb – deservedly
  • Scramble over two contrasting ridges
  • Beautiful views over Ullswater

Helvellyn ‘by the Edges’ is probably the most recognized high mountain walk  in the Lake District. The approach via Striding Edge is a classic approach to any summit and and for the virgin surely the only one. Whatever the conditions Striding Edge is impressive and similar to most walkers I do like a bit of scrambling to enliven a climb. Even approaching the summit of Helvellyn the plaque with the legend of the dog who stayed with its deceased owner on the mountain for 3 months adds to the pleasure. What always strikes me when I reach the summit is the number of people who just emerge from different directions and routes. The full Helvellyn ridge from Fairfield to Clough Head is a great ridge route but I do sympathise with those who have hacked up the less inspiring western slopes above Thirlmere.

The erosion is however a massive challenge on Helvellyn, the loose rock above Swirral Edge offering a much greater challenge to walkers than the ridges themselves. I have been a strong advocate in recent months (2017) of avoiding Swirral Edge altogether as it is dangerous as a descent and would strongly advise heading along the southern Helvellyn ridgeto Grisedale Tarn as the most enjoyable method of descent (the views are just wonderful). The photos reflect this route, the map does not…yet.

The Fix the Fells project led by the Lake District Park Authority and the National Trust are doing a fine job where they can but they need support in these days of austerity. Find out more

Recommend: Stick to the high crest on the ridge on Striding Edge it is magical but be prepared for the sting in the tail and the steep final descent. The lower paths avoid most of the scrambling but also much of the interest.

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Helvellyn map


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OS Map: O/S 1.25,000. OL5 The English Lakes North East. Buy Map
Start Point: NY 385170. On the west side of the river take the first lane (left) past the shops and on to the broad ridge and lovely grassy path of the lower slopes of Birkhouse Moor. The main path up Mires Beck I find a bit of a slog.
Height to Climb: 810ms (2,657 feet)
Terrain: Helvellyn is badly eroded but on the slopes these can be avoided - see the route. The upper slopes cannot be avoided on and around the 2 ridges
Eating & Drinking: The Travellers Rest at the top end of Glenridding certainly effected my choice of descent, cross the bridge to the east and then sit outside and enjoy the views
Similar Walks Nearby: A Fistful of Dodds
Hayeswater & the Angletarn Crags
Ridges over Dovedale
Places to Stay: Brackenrigg Inn, UllswaterElm How, cottage for 8, Patterdale