On Striding Edge - Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge
Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge - A glorious weekend on Helvellyn
This weekend has been all about Helvellyn.
On Saturday we were with Arda who was staying at the well positioned Lodge in the Vale. We were able tailor a walking route to start directly from the door and this included the summits of Raise, White Side, Lower Man, and Helvellyn.
The brief from Arda was to have a long day out on Helvellyn with the option of including Striding Edge. So traversing the numerous neighbouring summits played into that well. The ascent up to Sticks Pass is initially pretty tough, but soon the gradient eases and the path is always pleasant and offers stunning views.
A right turn at Sticks Pass took up easily up to our first summit of the day, Raise at 883m. It is on this mountain that the only ski tows in the Lake District are located.
By now the wind had picked up and it was a chilly one. All our layers were on as where the winter gloves, I’d estimate it being no more than minus 5’C. We journeyed south-west to the second summit of the day, White Side 863m. The tiny stone shelter on the summit looked mildly appealing but just wasn’t enough to keep the wind away, so we didn’t bother to stop.
We continued, this time heading south and with a steeper ascent were soon on the summit of Helvellyn Lower Man 925m. The wind was gusting a little more forcefully now and there was a need to concentrate. Arda suggested he wasn’t keen on traversing Striding Edge given the windy conditions. A sensible choice that made for a more relaxing day all round. We cruised over to the main summit of Helvellyn and found ourselves a spot in the stone shelter. Lunch time with a view followed.
I’ll often say to people that the best days in the mountains are the cloudy days. I firmly believe this. Today was yet another day that proves the point. We had plenty of cloud, sometime low visibility, but when the clouds parted the views were world class. Autumn is in full swing so the mountains and valleys are stunning and showed themselves off so well at every opportunity. Yes we enjoyed some blue sky too, but the coming and going of the cloud makes days like this so much better.
For Arda, who is originally from Istanbul, this was his first trip to the mountains here in the UK. The next trip has a lot to live up to.
For our return walk we traversed the flanks of White Side to reach Fisher Place Ghyll and descended next to its waterfalls. A cracking day out.
And for Sunday I was heading back to Helvellyn. This time with Nikki and Lucinda who had been staying with us at 2 Cambridge Villas. On Saturday they had tackled Scafell Pike and today were keen on Striding Edge for starters.
We started from Patterdale which is only a short drive from Ambleside and makes for a really pleasant and quiet ascent up to Hole in the Wall. The forecast wasn’t as promising for today, but it was wrong, very wrong.
Grisedale had pure blue skies above, with Nethermost and Dollywagon Pike dominating the skyline to Crete a dramatic outline of splendour. I thought, surely this can’t last…..but it did.
Once at Hole in the Wall we were feeling the wind and this had a Baltic flavour to it. All our layers were on again. The terrain becomes mildly rocky for a while as it leads along a broad ridge to the start of Striding Edge. We found a sunny, sheltered spot to enjoy a short break and take a few photos before we set off along Striding. The ridge starts straightforward and wide, but soon narrows to a fine crest and hands are needed for safe passage. For such a glorious day I was amazed we had the place almost to ourselves, indeed we passed nobody on the ridge, pretty cool.
Due to an occasionally gusting crosswind we sometimes needed to divert off the crest, but fun and interest could be maintained throughout. The tricky down climb proving to be as fun as ever. The final ascent up to the summit was in full sun and sheltered from the wind, making us all feel really warm again.
I’d recommended to the girls that if Striding Edge had been enjoyable then the logical return route would include Swirral Edge. They’d clearly loved Striding, so after a break on the summit to admire our surroundings, we aimed for the top of Swirral Edge.
Whilst this is a shorter scramble, it can feel more challenging than Striding Edge, especially so when done in descent as we were doing. The rocks were damp and a little greasy in places, so we cut the pace and picked our route carefully and were all too soon on the broad path leading down to Red Tarn. We exchanged pleasantries with the local farmer who was out with his two gorgeous Border Collies and tending to his sheep.
No swimming in Red Tarn today, would definitely be a bit fresh for that. We headed back to Hole in the Wall to pick up our outbound route and followed it back into Grisedale.
What a fabulous day, what a fabulous weekend.
If you’re planning a visit to the Lake District and would like some help and guidance for mountain days, we can help. We offer walks to all the Lakeland mountains as well as lots of other fun activities.
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Taking in the view at the end of Striding Edge - Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge
Summit plateau - Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge
Swirral Edge - Helvellyn via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge