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" Helvellyn via the Edges"

Date & start time:      8th June 2021.  12 noon start.

Location of start:       Glenridding Nat Park car park, Glenridding, Cumbria, ( NY 385 169 ).

Places visited :          Little Cove, Birkhouse Moor, Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Catstycam.

Walk details :              8.5 mls, 3150 ft of ascent, 5 hours 45 mins.

Highest point :           Helvellyn, 3,118ft - 950m.

Walked with :              Matt, Martin and the dogs, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                    Dull to start, brilliant to finish.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


My grandson is up for the week and he wanted to climb Helvellyn. 

He's done it before from the Thirlmere side but really fancied the classic ascent via Striding Edge. 

Poor weather in the morning delayed the start but it cleared to give us a perfect mountain day.

Matt and I were due to meet up with Martin at 10-ish but the clouds were down and the prospect for a day on the fells felt very poor.

However, a check of the forecast suggested that things would improve, so we crossed our fingers and delayed our departure an hour.

After passing Keswick and turning at Troutbeck, this was the view as we first saw Ullswater, on the way to our start point  at Glenridding.

To make things easier today we paid our (£8) dues at the main car park giving us sufficient time for a day on the fells.

The back alley from the car park brought us out into the road that we needed and we headed out full of hope for a clear day on the fells.

By the time we reached the Traveller's Rest pub the sun was shining and there were 'real' shadows on the road under our feet.

It was midday as we passed and hopefully our walk would find us back here later in the day.

- - - o o o - - -


Our planned route was to climb via Hole in the Wall,

conquer Striding Edge and return by Swirls and Catstycam.


The old slate signs advertise our route as "via Mires Beck"

but we know it as the Little Cove ascent.


- - - o o o - - -

Climbing out of the village, looking back at Glenridding Dodd, Ullswater and Place Fell.

A good pitched path meant our ascent was easier and erosion alongside the path was minimum. 

Plenty of folk about today, walkers, runners, some who had camped out and others intending to do so.

- - - o o o - - -


Looking back to 2006 in the archive

I found the pictures of our climb to Catstycam

which included this photo of these guys

building this path.


Fifteen years on it has blended in  beautifully

and by defining the route with stones

the path is narrower and the erosion less.

Well done to the "path fairies".



- - - o o o - - -

Further up again the path turns as it meets the wall

and looking back we now have a view of Arnison Crag, across the Patterdale Valley to Angle Tarn Pikes and distant High Street.

A fifty yard diversion from the main path finds us on the summit of Birkhouse Moor.

When the sun went in and with a slight breeze on the exposed summit there was a slight chill about the place.

Ahead was Helvellyn and Catstycam, both of which still had their summits in cloud.

Still, the view looking the other way was more cheery,

with the sunshine illuminating Sheffield Pike and the lake all the way to Pooley Bridge.

As a bonus, Birkhouse Moor is also a Wainwright summit so it's extra points all round today for us.

Ahead is the Helvellyn horseshoe with Striding Edge to the left, Swirral Edge to the right and Red Tarn still hidden in the centre.

The group is some two and a half miles away from Glenridding and the climb just to get to "Hole in the Wall" will have taken and hour and a half

even before we take to the trickier bits ahead.   We must remember too that the walk back will be the same extra length !

Though we are in sunshine the summits are still in clouds. . . after our walk in, would we we still didn't know if we would get a view from the top ?

The path from Patterdale climbs up from our left, on the other side of the tall stone wall.

Patterdale folk heading for the top have to access the fell either by a ladder stile

or via the conventional stile that fills that "hole in the wall" at the highest point ahead.

Our arrival at the path junctions coincides nicely with lunchtime.

We select a sheltered spot below the "hole" having first used the tall ladder stile to get out of the breeze on the other side of the wall.

While we relaxed, so did the weather,

and gradually the sunshine spread across more and more of the fells.

Martin contemplates the climb as we restart our walk after lunch.

Ahead is Low Spying How and then High Spying How.  The part of the fell also goes under the name of Bleaberry Crags on the map.

We aim to 'skyline' the route, sticking to the highest point of the ridge as far as possible.

From our elevated location we can look ahead to Nethermost Pike and Dollywaggon Pike, southerly continuations of the Helvellyn ridge.

Behind us the wall from Birkhouse Moor gradually recedes into the distance.

"Look . . . the tops are clear of cloud ! "

As the day progressed, the fine weather was arriving on cue.

The route starts as gentle moorland . . .
. . . but High Spying How sees the start of the rocky section.

Striding Edge starts here . . .

Don't panic, you can chose the elevated, exposed route or that lower path that shadows the edge but in a less exposed way.

Matt catches a memory before heading further along the ridge.

The Dixon Memorial lays testament to the gentleman who  fell to his death here whilst following the Patterdale Fox Hounds.

It doesn't look like it, but the exposure on the opposite side has become quite significant.

The ridge is not all rock and Martin picks the high road . . .
. . . as we approach the next craggy pinnacle of the Edge.

Like the guy on the skyline, Martin and ourselves took the high route.

On the path below, the walkers are using an easier route along the Edge.

Despite encouragement to stay low, the dogs seem to enjoy the exposure of the rocky tops.

Not recommended on a windy day !
Dylan and Dougal wait before the next section.

- - - o o o - - -


I know from being here before

that to continue on the high route involves

a twenty foot chimney scramble down at this point.


I have with help, brought our previous retrievers down this way

but today I made every effort to show Dylan and Dougal the low path

so as to avoid the vertical descent.


They were having nothing of it and kept climbing back to the ridge,

so we compromised and they found their own way down,

not on the scramble itself but through the crags to the right.


- - - o o o - - -

They were patiently waiting for us as we reached to next level.

Martin, again leaving the normal path to scramble up the climb.
We had gained a lot of height in a short space of time.

Time to sit on the path at the top and appreciate a successful climb of Striding Edge.

The Gough Memorial remembers the loss of a life and the love of the man's dog to stick by the body of his master.

[ The event is also immortalised in a poem by Sir Walter Scott - see the Blogspot link above -]

Click here or on the photo above for a larger, more readable version of this picture.

Today . . . myself at the summit shelter . . . no cakes today.
Christmas 2006 and a birthday celebration at the same place.

The weather has cleared so well today that we've got wide, extensive views on all sides.           

The summit is somewhat crowded . . . it would have been a good picture had the guy not turned around.

Matt on the flat summit of Helvellyn,

with the shelter and cairn at this end, the trig point on the flat top towards the northern end.

Click here or on the photo above for a wider, annotated panorama.

A group summit photo courtesy of a kind fellow-walker.

The view west over the Thirlmere Valley, looking across to the central and southern fells.

The northern end of the summit with Bassenthwaite and Skiddaw fells in the distance.

Zooming in on our next summit, Catstycam.

The only problem is that it is further away viewed through the normal lens

To get there we have to descend the 'scramble' of Swirral Edge.
Not as rocky and sharp as Striding, but still a challenge.

Martin putting on the act . . .

but the scramble does need care when descending as it was quite lose in places and rocky in others.

- - - o o o - - -



As with Striding Edge there are alternative paths

but at the start of the descent

the options are limited and the surface lose.



Down here it's Dougal taking the high road

and Dylan taking the low road

but who will be first down I hear you ask !



- - - o o o - - -

Down level with Striding Edge

and the lake is looking particularly blue now, as it reflects the improved weather.

Some folk made the tarn their objective rather than the summit .
Even from this distance we can hear the shouts of delight ... or is it cold !

Matt sky-lining once again  . . . nearly down to the hause.

Chance to look around as we walk the level ground.

On t he opposite side to Red Tarn is Keppel Cove.

A surprisingly steep final ascent to Catstycam . . . or am I just getting a wee bit tired ?

Matt claims the top.

From up here the views are lovely,

not surprising as we can see the triangular top of Catstycam from so many other places in the Lakes.

Click here or on the photo above for a 360 degree annotated panorama.

A quick break to finish off a last sandwich or chocolate biscuit that we didn't eat earlier.

Looking down into Keppel Cove and the old reservoir wall casting a dark shadow in the afternoon light.

Martin starts his way down, heading for the minor summit of Catstycam that everyone forgets.

We're aiming to join the Greenside path but we don't rush straight across

as the soft grass is rather nice on the feet and knees . . . that path will no doubt be rather hard underfoot.

However we do join the path as it is heading in our preferred direction.

Behind us is the non-triangular Catstycam.

A weir on the river collects water for a pipeline, presumably there's a hydro plant somewhere.

Floods in recent years, especially Storm Desmond in 2015 seems to have filled the pond behind with gravel

but that doesn't hinder collection of the water using the filtering mesh on the lip of the weir.

Back to civilisation (of sorts) as we enter the grounds of the old Greenside Lead Mine

The mine closed in 1961 after a long and distinguished history of lead and silver production.

Check out more of the history on the Wiki page

These old mine buildings have been re-purposed into the Greenside Youth Hostel,

offering accommodation to walkers young and old alike.

It also appears to offer accommodation to several peacocks . . . can you see one in the picture above ?

It was sunning itself up on the roof.
The female was standing on top of the aviary next door.

We join the mine road, heading back to the village.

The road passes the picturesque Rake Cottages.

These would have been workers cottages when the mines were open.

Looking across the valley at Little Cove and our ascent route earlier in the day.

Rounding the circle, returning to our outward route at the junction.

The bollards are to discourage parking,

but a single 'no parking beyond this point' notice lower down would be a more environmentally pleasing option.

A welcome sight at the end of the walk . . . a classic re-hydration station.

One of the attributes of a good pub like this is that it should suddenly appear just as you near the end of your walk.

A new looking beer garden and a simple queuing system at the bar

meant that we could enjoy the late afternoon sunshine to the full.

Here's to a classic walk completed on a classic day.

Everyone's happy . . . what more could we want ?

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a reliable weather forecast that follows up on its word.

Go to Home Page . . . © RmH . . . Email me here

Previous walk - 4th June 2021 The Whinlatter Fells

A previous time up here - 25th December 2006 Candles, Tinsel, Inversions and Altitude

Next walk - 26th June Back Lanes and Mills, Cockermouth