Hellvellyn via Striding Edge and Catstye Cam 3rd August 2013

Cath and I met up at Glenridding car park. We set off at about 10.45 after I’d done some pfaffing about. The car park still costs £7 for the day.

We went up to Hole in the Wall which doesn’t dispense anything and has possibly been filled in as can’t say I even noticed it. This is the point for starting Striding Edge. The first part is a inevitably quite gentle and just starts to ease you in to a bit of exposure, we stayed to the right just under the ridge. We saw a young man in jeans who was clinging to the path and obviously very terrified. We gave some words of encouragement but we didn’t see him later on so I reckon he’d backtracked which would probably have been the right thing to do as he wasn’t in a particularly terrifying spot when we saw him.

Mostly we stayed to the right on the path just below the ridge. At one spot you have to make a move down and most people were just doing this in their stride but we stopped to weigh it up and Cath was getting a bit anxious. Instead of following the crowd I moved to the left and got to a steady spot and I think this encouraged Cath to do the same as she soon followed me. We hadn’t liked the look of the drop to the right. Some guys were being helpful and making suggestions but we didn’t really follow them. We reckoned on making our own decisions and doing what was right for us.

The next tricky spot was soon after where we had to get down a narrow gully. I like doing these but Cath felt a bit less sure so she told me and one of our new friends to stay at the bottom to spot her. Just when her foot was at my eye level I started to move away but she told me and the chap that we were to stay in place, so we did! I told Cath that she had girl balls and this seemed to help!

That was the worst of it and we next took a path that went round the side of the big outcrop that most people were going over. This was a good route and we climbed up easily. After that we were practically at the top. Once we got to the shelter, a man came round and sold us cake for the British Horse Society which I didn’t even know existed. The lemon drizzle cake was just the ticket at that point. It was pretty cold and breezy on the top which meant the photos were a bit bonkers, and no-one there at that time to take one for us.

Next we went down Swirral Edge which seemed nothing like as scary going down it as it had going up it last year. There wasn’t anyone on it this time which helped. Then along and up to Catstye Cam where we were the only people. It’s quite a small summit so this was just as well. Then down off the top and back along a good path all the way to Glenridding via the Youth Hostel which looks great and is in a good location. Cath said it was nice as she’d stayed there with Lee earlier on this year.

We got back at about 5.30, went and had some not so nice cake in the wrong cafe. I’d forgotten Fellbites. But the tea was fine and just what was needed.

A Quality Mountain Day with a fab companion!

Start of Striding Edge
Intrepid Cath on the top of Striding Edge
Cath in movement on the Edge
Buttress after the hard bit
Looking back along the Edge from the top
Despite appearances I am not about to punch Cath in the head!
Happy Christmas
Cath all cool and relaxed
On summit of Helvellyn

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Helvellyn via Swirral Edge 8th July 2012

Despite getting up at 6.30, I still didn’t manage to get started walking until 10.45. I really am going to have to NOT stop at Lancaster services for a coffee in future.
I had 2 goals for the day: to do a bit of a scramble and to do a long walk to see if I’d got the stamina.
I parked up at Glenridding car park for a whopping £7 for the day, although as it turned out it was less than a pound per hour. There are clean, free loos in the car park, and a cafe and postcards if you want them.
The route goes past a camp site and then rises up alongside Mires Beck. I soon picked up 3 old men (on large Ramblers’ outing from St. Helens). They were either behind or ahead of me for half the day. I left them to climb to Birkhouse Moor (1st Wainwright of the day). A dog was roaming loose on the hillside and chasing sheep but I couldn’t see an owner, too far away for me to try to catch it too, and then what would I do with it, even if it did stay still long enough?


Back on the path along a big wall for a long flat section. Over on St. Sunday Crag, someone was being rescued from the cliff. When I’d walked St. Sunday Crag I’d watched a rescue of someone on Striding Edge.

Away from the wall to head across to Red Tarn, still flat so made up some time.
Red Tarn is at the base of the climb to Swirral Edge and a Mountain Leader was about to take a group of children up there too. I knew he was an ML the minute I overheard him point out Geographicum lichen! Plus he got them all to check their bootlaces and talked about foot placement and 3 points of contact.
The group commenced the climb and I stopped for my first lunch of pitta filled with hummous, tomato and basil so as to give them a good head start.
However, when I got to the hard part of the climb up the edge, there they all were again so he let me go past. It’s a short section of scrambling and does require concentration and thought as to where to put your hands and feet but there is enough room to take the numbers of people. It was more busy with people coming down but waiting for them is a chance for a breather. What it does do is get you to the top very quickly. A father coming down with his son was berating him for going down on his bum and bullying him in a very unpleasant way, such a contrast with the group coming up and I so wanted to intervene and kick dad off the mountain but anyway I kept quiet.
Helvellyn (2nd Wainwright) is a big plateau at 950m and I stopped at the first cairn and chatted to a couple of men about whisky. Then I moved on to the trig point and chatted to a couple of Indian men who had come up the easy way from Thirlmere with no gear, no map, no compass. They took my photo and I took theirs. My first trio had turned up by then and we all advised them how to get down and back to their car but I didn’t see them after that so they must have gone a different way, which would mean a long walk along the road.

Someone biked up Helvellyn
Me on the top, doing the bent knee pose!

I treated myself to an energy bar in the shelter and then set off for Nethermost Pike (3rd Wainwright) and then Dollywagon Pike (4th).

Old gatepost at foot of Dollywagon Pike

After Dollywagon it was 3/4 of an hour to get down to Grisedale Tarn, although the path is good. Here I had my second lunch, identical to the first and it rained for about 10 minutes.
I was feeling quite tired and still had a long stretch to get back to Glenridding. I only managed to do this by setting myself intermediate goals of places to look for and aim for.

Ruthwaite Lodge climbing hut

It was a lovely walk and although I’d seen a few people I hadn’t actually passed anyone since Helvellyn. It took 2 and 1/4 hours to get back, the last section was a bit tricky. I had an option to go up in order to get back down, staying on Access Land and on Rights of Way, or to go off the Access Land and along marked paths on the contour. I chose the latter as I just couldn’t face any further up by then and was cursing every little rise. This took me across a fence with barbed wire into a mucky old wood with lots of bog and rotting trees. I slid my way out of that to go through over head high bracken which wet me through and then down onto a real track leading to a house and then onto the main road which frankly I was quite glad to see.
I left Glenridding at 6.30 and was back home at 8.30, not bad!
I did 17 km which is 10.5 miles – mountain miles! so the stamina is ok as although I felt tired and had a few leg and foot aches and pains, nothing was unbearable. And I did the lesser of the 2 Edges leading to Helvellyn, so all I need now is my pal Cath to do the other Edge!

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Helvellyn&aq=0&oq=helvellyn&sll=53.115788,-4.025861&sspn=0.018443,0.060339&t=p&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Helvellyn&ll=54.527059,-3.017635&spn=0.029885,0.051498&z=13&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

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Helvellyn 060909

Wythburn church

Left nice and early so managed to get to Wythburn car park at 10.00. The car park would have cost me £5 but the ticket machine was “Not in use”. Great.

A group of Polish (I think) people were smoking in the car park and set off before me. A short time later I overtook them, to say they were inappropriately dressed just doesn’t cover it, ready to go clubbing more like it!
Lovely walk through pine woods, rising steeply onto the fell with a few craggy bits and water chasing down. I’m starting to see what Wainwright means, it’s more interesting in terms of variety of landscape.
Fairly got up quickly. Had a chat with a bloke on the way and even patted his dog. Turned right at the junction and whizzed up to Nethermost Pike. Windy and some hard drizzle on the tops. Short whizz up to Helvellyn having looked across at large quantities of mad people doing Striding Edge despite the great wind and cold. I was told it was only 5 degrees on the top, but in my new Paramo I didn’t feel cold at all.
There was a tent on the summit which may have been connected with a triathlon (swim, “run” [not when I saw them!], bike). Also saw another tent down by the tarn and another one on my way down.N
Quick look round the top, had my sandwich in the rather grim shelter, sharing it with a couple and 2 small dogs with coats on. Wretched dogs far too close to my sandwich for comfort so had to eat it fast. I did feel cold in the windiest section of the shelter so didn’t hang about. Then more whizzing back down. A little rain on the way down but got down very quickly.
I never saw the Poles again so think they must have given up quite early on.
Great to have a walk with actual views for a change and not loads of rain.

[googlemaps https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=helvellyn&aq=&sll=54.541601,-2.988281&sspn=0.125474,0.41851&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Helvellyn&t=m&ll=54.527059,-3.017635&spn=0.029885,0.051498&z=13&iwloc=A&output=embed&w=300&h=300]

Please visit Map and Compass and learn how to interpret a map with me and my navigation partner, Cath.