Helvellyn and Thirlmere

Helvellyn and Thirlmere, 2.30pm 2nd March 2010.

Height: 3118 feet above sea level. The third-highest mountain in the Lake District – and in England.

Volume: Book 1 (The Eastern Fells)

Date climbed: 2nd December 2011 (walk 47)

Helvellyn, seen from Raise.

Looking back along the ridge to Helvellyn, from Raise (White Side is the intervening slope).

Bagged as number: 143 of 214. [ << Grasmoor (142)  (144) White Side >> ]

Route of ascent and descent:  Ascended from Wythburn church. Left along the ridge to White Side (via Helvellyn Lower Man).

What Mr Wainwright says(from page 2 of his chapter): “Legend and poetry, a lovely name and a lofty altitude combine to encompass Helvellyn in an aura of romance; and thousands of pilgrims, aided by its easy accessibility, are attracted to its summit every year. There is no doubt that Helvellyn is climbed more often than any other mountain in Lakeland, and, more than any other, it is the objective and ambition of the tourist who does not normally climb…. There is some quality about Helvellyn which endears it in the memory of most people who have stood on its breezy top; although it can be a grim place indeed on a wild night it is, as a rule, a very friendly giant.”

Helvellyn summit.

The summit of Helvellyn, with Catstycam behind.

What I say: Helvellyn is the first proper mountain I ever climbed, whether in the Lakes or elsewhere, aged around 9 years old. I remember that we ascended from Thirlspot, and somewhere along the way picked up a stout branch which I used as a climbers’ stick and which made it home with us where it remained, becoming stone-like with age, for many years after. 33 years later on and things won’t have changed much about the fell, but it can still prove a memorable experience, as the walk commentary and photos will make clear.

View towards Helvellyn from Arthur's Pike

View towards Helvellyn, across Ullswater, from Arthur’s Pike. Picture taken on walk 42.

I think the good thing about Helvellyn is that it can clearly be made into an expedition that is easy or difficult according to choice. If you want it easy, come up from Thirlspot or Wythburn, or all the way round via Grisedale Tarn (a longer option). For those with more of an adrenaline addiction, there is Striding Edge (which, I’m sorry, but you’re never getting me on), or one could come up Catstycam first and then cross to the summit via Swirral Edge.

Those with plenty of stamina can cover the whole range, all 9 fells from Dollywaggon Pike to Clough Head, in a single walk – but Helvellyn is also made very accessible as a single fell by proximity to the main Keswick – Grasmere road and its frequent bus service and many car parks. This accessibility stands it in notable contrast to the Scafells, for example.

Yes, everyone who wants to experience the Lakes in full needs to climb Helvellyn at least once.

Helvellyn from High Seat

Helvellyn, seen from High Seat – picture taken on walk 69

[ << Helm Crag      Hen Comb >> ]

One Response to “Helvellyn”

  1. […] more of the remaining Wainwrights in dramatic conditions. These included the third-highest of all, Helvellyn, at 3,118 feet. As you can see from the pictures, the tops were dusted in snow, which led to some […]

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