Lake District Walks
Helvellyn & Striding Edge
Date: 17th June 2006
Distance: 10.6 miles
Ascent: 3758 feet
Time: 6 hours 50 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY395159
A tough climb up Dollywaggon Pike preceded an easy ridge walk on to Helvellyn before an exciting descent over Striding Edge.
Route Summary: Patterdale - Grisedale - Ruthwaite Lodge - The Tongue - Dollywaggon Pike - Nethermost Pike - Helvellyn - Striding Edge - Birkhouse Moor - Grisedale - Patterdale.
1. The flanks of Birkhouse Moor above Grisedale
2. Dollywaggon Pike
4. David climbing The Tongue
5. High Crag and Nethermost Pike
6. On the summit of Dollywaggon Pike
7. St Sunday Crag
8. David on High Crag
9. Striding Edge
10. The Plane Memorial on Helvellyn
11. Looking down to Red Tarn
12. Catstye Cam from the top of Swirral Edge
13. Striding Edge
14. On the highest point of Striding Edge
15. Red Tarn and Helvellyn
16. Ullswater from Birkhouse Moor
Walk Detail: We set off from home at about 6.30am and were a little bit concerned by some low cloud on the western side of the Pennines. However we were barely into Glenmara Park at the beginning of the walk when the lower cloud blew over to be replaced for a while at least by bright blue sky.
The walk up Grisedale was very pleasant with exciting views down the valley towards Dollywagon Pike and Nethermost Pike with St Sunday Crag also hovering impressively above us. We stopped at Ruthwaite Lodge for a bite to eat before tackling the steep route up to the Tongue that I had chosen in favour of the more popular Grisedale Tarn route.
We were grateful that by this time we had a bit of cloud cover and we needed it because the route via the supposedly grassy rake was both rockier and steeper than expected. In fact this 'shortcut' has become something of an in-joke between us in the subsequent years. It was by far the toughest section of the walk but once upon the ridge proper it became surprisingly easy and we were able to enjoy the views into Ruthwaite and Cock Cove. We also saw the somewhat surprising sight of a couple of people bathing in tiny Hard Tarn below Nethermost Pike.
Dollywagon Pike was a fine little summit, possibly the best of all those visited that day and had a fine view to the west and east. After crossing the minor top of High Crag with its large cairn we traversed the flat top of Nethermost Pike, the eastern edge of which gave us our first really good views of Striding Edge. From Nethermost Pike it was an easy climb on to Helvellyn and from barely seeing anyone we were suddenly surrounded by people coming in from all directions.
The descent to the col with Striding Edge was a bit tricky in places thanks to some loose stones a couple of which I was horrified to send tumbling below me. The scramble up on to Striding Edge was fairly easy, probably more so than Gordale Scar, and once away from this bottleneck we enjoyed our traverse of Striding Edge. To be honest I thought I would feel more exposed especially since I stuck to the ridge rather than the path. Considering the number of people on Striding Edge it was something of a surprise to have the summit to ourselves for a few minutes at the least.
Quite soon after the highest point the ridge begins to broaden out and at this point we struck out for a thin path that took us down to Red Tarn. Here we had the good idea of going for a paddle, and while the stones underfoot were a bit uncomfortable it was still a real blessing to be able to cool our feet after a hot day’s walking.
After tarrying for a while by the tarn we made our second detour of the day to visit the two tops of Birkhouse Moor. While the main top is undeniably underwhelming the eastern top does have a lovely view of Ullswater. The descent was quite pleasant and we were able to enjoy further views of our early route up Grisedale as well as down to Glenridding. We celebrated our walk with a drink in the Patterdale Hotel before heading home well pleased.