Helvellyn is the third highest Peak in the Lake District and has one of the most famous ridges on its East side. Striding Edge is a magnificent edge of rock leading to the Summit .
Care must be taken when attempting all of the fells in the Lake District but none more so than Helvellyn. Striding Edge is a joy to cross in good weather; in bad weather it could and does pose a real challenge to walkers of all abilities. Once on the edge there’s only two ways you can go, forward and back, if ascending from Ullswater the climb up via Patterdale Common towards the Hole-in-the-wall is fairly straightforward.
Here you get your first glimpse of Striding Edge. Before you know it you are ascending the edge and things are fairly easy going to start with, crossing Bleaberry Crag and Low Spying How then onto High Spying How.
As you pass along Striding Edge with Red Tarn to your right you get an appreciation of how high you’ve ascended so far. The drop either side of the edge is immense. Nethermost Cove to the South and Red Tarn to the North. As this 360 Panorama shows, the Insights section of my website will show an interactive version of this image, don’t look down.
With Plenty of Snow this place would be a treat for Skiers and Snowboarders.
There are several monuments on Helvellyn, the first you might meet is the Dickson Memorial from 1858, situated on a platform of rock on Striding Edge overlooking Nethermost Cove. I read somewhere that this is the point Wordsworth last met his brother, I can’t recall where I read this though.
Close to the end of Striding edge you are faced with what’s definitely the most challenging part of the walk, The Chimney is a large slab or towering rock you must first descend before you can climb the last steep section up onto Helvellyn’s summit.
Passing this section in bad weather such as snow and ice would be impossible without specialist equipment.
On reaching the summit ridge of Helvellyn you are faced with the Gough memorial erected in 1890. Further towards the summit there’s another small stone tablet commemorating the landing of an aeroplane on the summit in 1926.
Given the tricky nature of the ascent the summit itself is relatively tame with a gentle slope from the Gough memorial to the summit trig point and shelter.
There are some fines views from the summit over Catstye Cam and Red Tarn and Swirral Edge the line of descent for me this time.
The first time I climbed Helvellyn I ascended from the opposite side from Thirlmere reservoir. Personally I wouldn’t recommend this route unless you enjoy what seems to be endless steps. Wainwright himself said the east side of Helvellyn is unattractive and lacking in interest. Mind you some people pay a monthly fee to use machines of the same but without the view.
On descending via Swirral Edge you get a great view back over Red Tarn and you can really take in the scale and magnificent Striding Edge. A line of walkers passing over is testament to the grandeur and popularity of this route.
From Red Tarn the path eases you back down along Red Tarn Beck to Glenridding passing disused mine working and eventually back to civilisation. An English lakes Ice cream is a worthy reward in Glenridding.
Here is a link to more of my Helvellyn Prints.