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" Helvellyn via Brown Cove Crags  "

Date & start time:      26th August 2021.   A midday start.

Location of Start :     The roadside layby at Swirls, Thirlmere, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 316 173).

Places visited :          Swirls, Brown Cove, Lower Man, Helvellyn, Whiteside, Thirlspot, King's Head.

Walk details :              7.1 mls, 2900 ft of ascent, 5 hours 10 mins.

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

Walked with :              Peter B, myself and the dogs, Betsy, Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                     Sunshine and blue skies, hardly a breeze.


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


Pete Burgess has just been reunited with a book on Lake District Scrambles from which he had been parted for several years.

Consequently when I said it would be nice to meet up for a walk he dug out the book

to find a far from normal route to reach the summit of one of the three big "Lakeland three thousanders".

- - - o o o - - -


We were meant to meet in the centre of the Lake District

at about eleven o'clock . . . well that was the plan. 


He was travelling from the south east corner of the Lakes

and I was on the move from the opposite side, the far north west.


Holiday traffic had other ideas and we were both running late

as I paused for a photo into the Thirlmere Valley.


Peter had also stopped off to collect an extra walking companion,

a Beddlington terrier called Betsy

that belonged to a neighbour from his village.


After all the terrier hadn't climbed this particular Wainwright summit

and his owner Don, would like him to complete his '214'

if at all possible.


- - - o o o - - -

Heavy traffic makes for busy parking areas, fortunately we found two free spaces !

The "object of desire" today was Helvellyn via Brown Cove Crags.

These were the crags as seen from the layby where we met.

- - - o o o - - -

Our feet naturally drifted up to the National Park amenity block

and we took the path across the front heading for the start of the main climb.

Sadly if you are talking, you are over confident about the route and you haven't been here for a while then you end up on the wrong  path !

Still we followed the stream up behind the centre onto the back slopes of the hill known as The Swirls till we could clearly see we were wrong.

Then we found a crossing point and a route that would take us back in the right direction.

Pete . . . we should be over there !

Back on track and the car park at Swirls is now some distance below.

A discussion about the aqueduct gathering the fell water towards the lake, the route of the new cycle path and the brightly painted bus

was enough to encourage a change of lens and a close up photo.

An old ruin not marked on the map sits next to the path, as we continue on up the zig-zags.

The weather is beautiful and the the noise of the road below has faded away.

All was quiet and everything was well with the world.

Enter stage left at great speed and great volume . . . an American F14 jet fighter

its wing tips creating a double vapour trail as it banks above the lake.

If there's one then there's usually a second.

Good job there's no zip wire here as it would have caused real problems.

The jet banks again under the slopes of Blencathra . . . and goes off to wake up the residents of Keswick.

It's a warm climb so we stop for refreshments.
The main path heads off to the right, avoiding Brown Cove.

- - - o o o - - -

This is probably the second busiest path up Helvellyn,

the first being Striding Edge.

It was difficult to take a picture today

that didn't include crowds of people.


Our route in blue would now deviates from the normal green path

as Peter takes over navigation.

- - - o o o - - -

Gone are the crowds . . . also gone is any semblance of a path.

We follow the grass where possible, looking for a particular route Peter had planned.

It has been many years since he was here and the exact starting point he wanted was proving illusive.

Never mind . . . lets sit down and think about it over a sandwich . . . lunchtime.

Onward  and  upward, we set off up the first buttress of Brown Cove Crags.

The going was rough to say the least.
Sheep tracks through the screes appeared occasionally.

At other times there were grassy rakes to follow.

The central part of the climb demanded full attention . . .
. . . both for men and dogs.
Peter spots "Riley's Window" on the central buttress opposite.
We'll have to make do with the Hiley's window formed by a fallen rock.

Dylan is enjoying the climb and is well ahead.

Here the camera focused on the rock not the dog . . . but time we focused on the next part of the climb.

Dylan was safe in the central gully and soon we were topping out above the Brown Cove Buttress.

From this high vantage point we got our first view of the conical shape of Catstycam emerging above the ridge.

Peter hung back for a quick explore of the top of Central Buttress.

Betsy claims the Birkett summit of Brown Cove Crags . . . even if it is not one of the classic Wainwright 214's.

It is an easy path now towards the summit of Helvellyn.

As we walk along there's great views of the Central and Coniston Fells.

The dogs are enjoying the view down into Kepple Cove, the right hand boundary of which is Swirral Edge.

A small crowd gathers around the trig point as we walk towards the summit.

Looking down Swirral Edge and across to Red Tarn . . . looking very blue today in the sunshine.


Dylan always likes to climb the trig

though nowadays he has to have help to reach the top.


Dougal however can usually scale them himself

especially of encouraged by a run up and treat from the bag !


- - - o o o - - -

Not to be outdone, Betsy has her picture taken on the top . . . summit bagged.

It's a nice day and the visibility is good

so we take the opportunity to walk over to look at Striding Edge.

Strange to see the summit shelter without occupants . . . but it is mid afternoon not lunchtime.

Back to the top and the classic picture across the curve of the summit ridge, looking north.

See what I mean about being busy today.

Our return route will be a less frequented path too, as we set off to bag Betsy another summit.

On our walk towards Helvellyn's Whiteside we can look across at Brown Cove Crags.

Our route up is hidden in the shadows of the first buttress, the third shadow looking from this direction.

Whiteside summit and time to head north west, back towards Thirlmere in the valley below.

Looking across the undulating, folded landscape of the Dodds, with Blencathra and Great Calva in the far distance.

We stick to the high ground, following parallel to Brown Gill, gradually heading down towards the valley.

Our path avoids the rough descent of Brown Crags,

a summit not to be confused with the Brown Cove Crags that we climbed earlier.

The hot weather has allowed the farms to cut grass for hay.

The green field either had stock on it during the summer or has been cut for silage earlier in the summer.

The hot weather has encouraged the bracken too and the path becomes a little indistinct in places.

Still, the final goal of the Kings Head pub at Thirlspot guides our feet in the right direction.

A new-ish sign near the fell wall . . .
. . . and the older version close by.

Nearly down at Thirlspot Farm . . . the bridge takes us over the aqueduct that we spoke of earlier.

Look right . . . look left . . .
. . . no traffic so it is safe to cross.

Surprisingly the path brings us down directly through the farm yard . . . but no great problem.

To the side of the track to the farm is the gate to the pub.

A pause for re-hydration after a warm day . . . check out the quality crisps too . . . Truffle and Rosemary !

Very nice . . . fancy another packet ?

Lost and Found :


I often try and pick up litter from the fell

but today we came across this lost little fellow.

If you lost him or could give him a good home

do let me know.


It just remained to walk the short distance back up the road towards the layby at Swirls

and to say goodbye and thanks for the walk idea to Pete and Betsy.

- - - o o o - - -

Occasionally kind viewers of the web site call by to say hello to me here in Loweswater.

This was the case with Steve and Eileen Mews with whom I enjoyed a chat and a cool drink in the garden next day.

Regards also to the family, Caroline, Arran and Ellie Anna who are holidaying in the Lakes this week.

[ Also in the picture (on the left) is Loes who you might recognise from my recent walks.]

Thanks for calling in to see me . . . or was it just to see the dogs ?

- - - o o o - - -


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

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

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Previous walk - 25th August Borrowdale Mill with Gill

A previous time up here - 23rd March 2012 Helvellyn Fell Top Assessor's climb

Next walk - 2nd September Blencathra - The 51st State -