A sunny Sunday stroll over Striding Edge

Posted by Sam Harrison on January 13, 2011 at 17:23.

 Hill walking

helvellyn lake district patterdale striding edge

This was a walk I did with the Hiking Club at uni on 12 December 2010, but I enjoyed it so much (and got quite a few half-decent photos) that I thought I'd post a bit about it here. Helvellyn is famed as the second highest mountain in England, and that fame certainly makes it a popular choice. I've been warned that during summer Striding Edge becomes the Lake District's equivalent to the hiker's motorway that is Snowdonia's Crib Goch. Understandably so though, as it is a beautiful and rewarding ridge with an equally rewarding summit at the end.

Start point: Glenridding, NY 385 169
Summits: Birkhouse Moor, Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Raise
Distance: 8.9 miles / 14.3 kilometres
Ascent: 3300 feet

Believe it or not, this was my first ever time along Striding Edge and on top of Helvellyn. It's one of those hills that I've had in my sights for years but have never got around to. As such I was very-much looking forward to this walk and I'm glad to say it didn't disappoint. The area had been in full winter conditions the week before and I was initially annoyed that the majority of the snow had thawed when we got there, but in hindsight it was probably for the best that my first time over Striding Edge wasn't laden with ice axe and crampons.

Although there were clouds in the sky, the sun still shone through and we got a fantastic view out over Ullswater whilst making the ascent to Birkhouse Moor. Unfortunately this was marred somewhat by a dirt-biker that was up there churning up the countryside.

Ullswater
 


Striding Edge looked absolutely stunning bathed in the sunshine, a sight that no photograph can do justice to. It was a real pleasure and I felt almost a privilege that my first time across the ridge was in such glorious weather. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, despite patches of verglass making it a little tricky. We thought that crampons might be needed for the final slog up to the summit but as it turned out convenient steps had been cut in the snowy areas.

 


A few of our group headed off up one of the gullies on the face of Helvellyn - not for the faint hearted!

Striding Edge
 


Striding Edge
 


Helvellyn
 


The summit of Helvellyn offered some lovely views back over Striding Edge and Red Tarn. It was, as predicted, rather busy up there.

Striding Edge and Red Tarn
 


Summit of Helvellyn
 


Summit of Helvellyn
 


Apparently a girl from the University of London fell through a cornice on the summit of Helvellyn a few weeks before we were there. She was okay, but unfortunately in subsequent weeks two men fell to their deaths on Swirral Edge, unrelated incidents whilst the ridge was in full winter conditions. These tragedies highlight the danger mountains can present, as well as the care that needs to be taken.

Shelter on the summit of Helvellyn
 


It wasn't long before the clouds came in however, and by the time we'd finished our lunch we were completely immersed. From Helvellyn we went on to Raise. The clouds did clear but it was dark by the time they did, so no opportunities for photographs. It was a rather bright night and despite the darkness we managed to finish the walk without needing to reach for the head torches!

We finished in the Traveller's Rest pub, which - to my dismay - boasted beers from one of my favourite breweries, Hesket Newmarket. The dismay was due to the fact that I was driving the minibus back and couldn't drink, hence ending up with a cup of instant coffee, which along with the log fire, was still very welcome after a long cold day in the hills.
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